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All that Gothic


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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Body out of (Human) Bounds: Lesbian Transformations in Contemporary Horror Fiction


Agnieszka Kotwasińska

Introduction: Gothic Transformations

Drastic bodily transformations have yielded some of the most memorable images in horror fiction: the hideous patchwork body of Frankenstein’s monster, a promising scientist transforming into his vicious double in the streets of London, shapeshifting vampires travelling across Europe, and men compelled to change into wolves under the bloody moon. Most of these recurring images can be seen as representing a duel between man and nature – nature understood as man’s primal self, hidden in the deep recesses of his mind, or nature seen as an uncontrollable force which must be subdued and conquered for mankind to move forward. The on-going struggle between humanness and beastliness, as well as between a civilized (and in some texts also feminized) cityscape and a dark but alluring wilderness, is literalized in uncanny transformations that defy boundaries between life and death, between human and animal. In fact, this particular narrative arch which supports bodily transformations is still vastly popular, and decades after the original images were first disseminated, contemporary horror writers can be seen rehashing these formulas and constructing wave after wave of tragic heroes torn between the world of humans and that of the Others, simultaneously loathing these liminal conversions and yearning for them.

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