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Expanding the Gothic Canon

Studies in Literature, Film and New Media


Edited By Anna Kędra-Kardela and Andrzej Sławomir Kowalczyk

This volume offers a survey of analyses of Gothic texts, including literary works, feature films, a TV serial, and video games, with a view to showing the evolution and expansion of the Gothic convention across the ages and the media. The temporal scope of the book is broad: the chapters cover narratives from the early and mid-eighteenth century, predating the birth of the convention in 1764, through Romantic and Victorian novels, to the contemporary manifestations of the Gothic. Primarily designed for graduate and postgraduate students, the book sets out to acquaint them with both the convention and different theoretical approaches. The studies presented here could also prove inspirational for fellow scholars and helpful for university teachers, the book becoming an item on the reading lists in Gothic literature, film and media courses.
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CHAPTER NINE: Ghosts and Their Stories in Children’s Fiction


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Ghosts and Their Stories in Children’s Fiction


The Gothic mode informs many phenomena in children’s literature and culture—which is amply testified by the popularity of wizards, vampires and monsters among young people today. The claim that “in children’s literature today, the Gothic is mainstream” seems entirely justified (Jackson et al. 2009: 1). In its long history the Gothic has developed such a variety of conventions that it does not appear feasible to consider it as a unified genre but seems much more practicable to treat it as a rather heterogeneous suprageneological category or mode which, owing to its popularity, spreads its features throughout many literary texts and other cultural phenomena, such as films, games, music, or fashions.1

The current popularity of the Gothic mode in fiction for the young readers—though not unanimously commended—is viewed as related to the anxieties of growing up and to coping with the uncertainties of contemporary life with its fast changes, multiple dangers and concomitant disorientation (McGillis 2009: 228-231). Gothic elements may be seen as performing the double role of expressing certain individual and cultural traumas on the one hand and of helping to deal with them on the other (Coats 2009: 75-80).

Out of the vast array of Gothic patterns abundantly present in contemporary texts for children, I intend to focus on the character of a ghost, one of the genre markers of the...

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