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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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Light into Darkness: the Gothic Roots of Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945)


Abstract: This essay stems from the hypothesis that contact zones between genres or modes and media enable us to analyse those exchanges that revitalise established forms and conventions. Coherently with this remit, it will explore the Gothic dimension of Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological thrillers, with a focus on Spellbound (1945). The film will be discussed in relation both to the rather obscure novel in which it is rooted and to the wide range of ‘psychological melodramas’ that Hollywood produced in the 1940s. While the metamorphosis of the Gothic into the psychological thriller partly resulted in a ‘sanitation’ of Gothic transgressiveness, it also concurred to its refunctionalisation within the conceptual framework of psychoanalysis, ultimately proving its resilience.

Keywords: Gothic; Psychological Thriller; Adaptation; Melodrama; Psychoanalysis

Fictional contact zones between genres or modes and media enable us to analyse those exchanges that revitalise established forms and conventions. The Gothic dimension of Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological thrillers has probably not received enough critical attention in the field of Gothic Studies. Hitchcock is not even mentioned in David Punter’s A New Companion to the Gothic (2012) despite the presence of a chapter on Gothic Film, while the relevance of Robert Bloch’s Psycho (1959) as a “key work” in the Gothic tradition is duly acknowledged in David Punter and Glennis Byron’s The Gothic (2004) (240–43).

My critical interest in Hitchcock rests on the conviction that as a filmmaker he played a major role in shaping the mid-20th century transmedia...

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