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Gothic Metamorphoses across the Centuries

Contexts, Legacies, Media


Edited By Maurizio Ascari, Serena Baiesi and David Levente Palatinus

This collection of essays brings together an international team of scholars with the aim to shed new light on various interconnected aspects of the Gothic through the lens of converging critical and methodological approaches. With its wide-ranging interdisciplinary perspective, the book explores the domains of literary, pictorial, filmic, televisual and popular cultural texts in English from the eighteenth century to the present day. Within these pages, the Gothic is discussed as a dynamic form that exceeds the concept of literary genre, proving able to renovate and adapt through constant processes of hybridisation. Investigating the hypothesis that the Gothic returns in times of cultural crisis, this study maps out transgressive and experimental modes conducive to alternative experiences of the intricacies of the human (and post-human) condition.

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Alien Gothic and Gothic Aliens: Leigh Brackett’s “Respectful Distance”


Abstract: Leigh Brackett (1915–1978) is an icon for pop fiction fandom, though an almost perfect stranger for great part of the academia. Better known as the undisputed queen of the space opera and as a stylist of the pop sublime, she is, as a matter of fact, the perfect example of American Alien gothic. In a time when SF was considered by most an escapist or an apolitical genre and women writing risked being labelled as feminist fabulation, Brackett chose to keep a distance from “dreary realities” and to legitimize “legends” as true because she considered Gothic excess, transgression, gloom, horror, and terror as instrumental in speaking of gender, race, and the effects of colonization and environmental exploitation, thus creating a bridge that connected the past to present times, making diversity merge within the Gothic register of monstrosity and disease. Brackett wrote many novels set on planets other than Earth, and her representation of alien worlds and interstellar travels has assured her a durable place in the Gothic Galaxy. My aim is to show how she reinterpreted the Gothic making it revive in the outer space and interface with extraterrestrial alienness.

Keywords: space opera, alien Gothic, pop sublime, gender, race

I offer you these legends of Old Mars as true tales,

inviting all dreary realities to keep a respectful distance.

(Leigh Brackett)

True lies

Leigh Brackett (1915–1978) is an icon for pop fiction fandom,...

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