Monsters, Madness, and the Demonic in Horror from Nineteenth-Century Fiction to Contemporary Film

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Authors
Soulodre, Alyce
Keyword
Monsters , Horror , Mystery , Insects , Entomology , Demons , Ghosts , Masculinity , Film , Literature , Victorian , B-Movies
Abstract
This portfolio explores monstrous figures in horror and mystery texts spanning from the 1790s to 1980s, including literature and film, analyzing the ways that they depict monstrosity and anxieties around the Other to promote terror. I argue that this spectre of the Other demonstrates the ways that these ideas are artificially constructed and therefore unstable and open to disruption, as well as how they require careful and consistent maintenance. The texts range from short stories, novels, and feature films, and depict various monsters, demons, creatures, and ghosts, to name a few. I draw attention to many otherwise neglected texts to assert their value and importance to the cultural lexicon, analyzing them in the context of their given historical moment. I trace monstrous figures from Victorian literature to contemporary film through monstrous creatures and landscape; madness and psychological instability in relation to masculinity in late-Victorian horror and mystery fiction; and demonic or haunting figures from 1790s fiction to 1907s-80s film. I analyze dynamics such as relationships to nature, homosocial bonds, curses and cult activity, community narratives, creepy crawlies, and haunting. I explore these figures largely through cultural anxieties about the Other, and what those fears reflect about dominant ideals. By focusing on this Othering and the anxieties it invokes and perpetuates, I examine the ways that these texts depict cultural fears. Through various genres, forms, and time periods throughout these pieces, I analyze the ways that horror articulates cultural fears and anxieties. Ultimately, I argue that these monstrous figures and the anxieties they invoke reveal the actual monstrosity of dominant discourses that must allegedly be maintained at any cost.
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