This critical approach examines the trajectory that Gothic fiction has taken since its beginning in the 18th century.
Contemporary examples of the Gothic, Ridley Scott's "Alien", Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" and Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend", show that the representations of monstrosity and the horror connected to them to a large extent rely on psychological phenomena outlined by Julia Kristeva in her work "Powers of Horror": Although different in their utilization of fear, the three works examined in this study can be regarded as developmental stages from abjection to madness and xenophobia.
The theories of Julia Kristeva serve as a feasible framework to analyze the capability of the Gothic to produce monsters that are most adaptive to historically and culturally conditioned fears generated by an increasing sense of Otherness in contemporary society. In this respect it seems that horror and its powers - of repulsion as well as of attraction - always is a discourse about Otherness. Regardless of the representation of monstrosity, it always serves to negotiate distinctions and differences - and thus makes the Gothic a genre whose meanings by far exceed the sum of its repetitive parts.

Christian Wenk
Abjection, Madness and Xenophobia in Gothic Fiction
ISBN 978-3-86573-378-8
300 S. 39,00 EUR. 2008 (Diss.)

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