Gothic Realities: The Impact of Horror Fiction on Modern Culture

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Eighteenth-century critics believed Gothic fiction would inspire deviant sexuality, instill heretical beliefs, and encourage antisocial violence—this book puts these beliefs to the test. After examining the assumptions behind critics' fears, it considers nineteenth-century concerns about sexual deviance, showing how Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dorian Gray, and other works helped construct homosexuality as a pathological, dangerous phenomenon. It then turns to television and film, particularly Buffy the Vampire Slayer and David DeCoteau's direct-to-video movies, to trace Gothicized sexuality's lasting impact. Moving to heretical beliefs, Gothic Realities surveys ghost stories from Dickens's A Christmas Carol to Poltergeist, articulating the relationships between fiction and the "real" supernatural. Finally, it considers connections between Gothic horror and real-world violence, especially the tragedies at Columbine and Virginia Tech.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts
this book is both useful and provocative
professor/associate chair Georgia Tech's School of Literature, Communication, and Culture. Author of The Vampire in Nine - Carol Senf
"Gracefully written...worth reading...valuable...a book that belongs on the shelves of anyone who is interested in the Gothic, in film studies, and in cultural studies as well as on the shelves of people who enjoy a well crafted argument."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786448357
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/23/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

L. Andrew Cooper is assistant professor of Film and Digital Media at the University of Louisville, Kentucky. His work has appeared in The Quarterly Review of Film and Video and Gothic Studies. His co-edited anthology targeted for composition classes, Monsters, appeared in summer 2012, and his next book, Dario Argento, is scheduled to appear in November 2012. Visit his website at

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix


Bad Influences and Gothic Realities 1

Part 1 Gothic Threats 23

1 The Threat in the Gothic's Foundation: From John Locke to Horace Walpole 25

2 Gothic Threats and Cultural Hierarchy: The Critical Evaluation of The Monk and The Mysteries of Udolpho 39

Part 2 Gothic Sexualities 57

3 Pathological Reproduction: The Emergence of Homosexuality through Nineteenth Century Gothic Fiction 59

4 Romps in the Closet: The Persistence of Nineteenth Century Notions in Contemporary Pop Culture 81

Part 3 Gothic Ghosts 115

5 Ghost Stories and Ghostly Belief: Conventional Horrors That Make Good Truths 117

6 Ghost Epistemology: Five or Six Ways to Haunt the Senses 144

Part 4 Gothic Violence 159

7 Fictions That Kill: Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Stephen King's Only Out-of-Print Novel 161

8 Violent Self-Reflection: Natural Born Killers, Wes Craven's Nightmares, and Torture Porn 184

Chapter Notes 209

Selected Bibliography 223

Index 233

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