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All that Gothic

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Edited By Agnieszka Lowczanin and Dorota Wisniewska

This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the history, aesthetics and key themes of Gothic, the main issues and debates surrounding the genre along with the approaches and theories that have been applied to Gothic texts and films. The volume discusses a wide range of 18 th and 19 th century texts and moves into 20 th century literature and film. It explores the cultural resonances created by the genre and raises a variety of issues, including the ways in which Gothic monstrosity mimics same-sex desire and social transgression. The texts included in the volume argue that Gothic film and fiction animated the darker shadows of the dominant culture.
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From Scratch Once More or, Sam Lawson Restarts the American Gothic

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Marek Wilczyński

The name of Sam Lawson, a character from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s New England novel Oldtown Folks (1869), is probably unknown to most scholars working in the vast field of American gothic fiction. Indeed, Oldtown Folks, the last in the series of Stowe’s novels focusing on the history of her native region of the United States, is not a narrative of horror but first of all an exercise in cultural nostalgia. “By popular reputation,” writes Charles H. Foster, “less a novel than a book of sketches of New England life” (Foster 173), it presents an ideal picture of Natick, Massachusetts, the hometown of the writer’s husband. In 1872, Stowe published a sequel to Oldtown Folks, a short story cycle entitled Sam Lawson Oldtown Fireside Stories, some of which are evidently gothic in character, though their gothicism is perhaps rather mild, more of the “sportive” than of the “horror” variety, to recall the once fashionable, late-eighteenth-century typology of the genre proposed by Nathan Drake (155-160).

The connecting “human factor” in Sam Lawson Stories is the title character, a happy-go-lucky village jack of all trades, somewhat similar to Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle in his neglect of the family and household duties, but universally liked for his gift of the gab and cheerful spirits. In particular, Sam is a favorite authority figure for the local boys whom he teaches various necessary skills, as well as tells them stories of mystery and significance. The idiom...

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