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Book Chapter

Contemporary American Gothic

Edwards JD (2017) Contemporary American Gothic. In: Weinstock J (ed.) Cambridge Companion to the American Gothic. Cambridge Companions to Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 71-82.;

First paragraph: In the United States, the words ‘contemporary’ and ‘gothic’ go together like zombies and brains. Like a swarming hoard, Gothic is ubiquitous: it is in our novels, our TV programs, on our computer screens and in our movie theatres. It has spread throughout literary and popular culture like a virus, infecting us with a contagion of tropes, figures and images. Gothic consumes and it is consumed by the feeding frenzy of audiences with insatiable appetites. This is seen in the best-selling novels of Stephen King, Anne Rice, Stephenie Meyer, L. J. Smith, Charlaine Harris, as well as in their mutated progeny: films such as The Shining (1980), Interview with a Vampire (1994), Twilight (2008) or TV series such as True Blood (2008-2014) and The Vampire Diaries (2009–). Yet there is also a significant continuity in the aesthetics of the American Gothic from the late 18th century to the present. For instance, there is a continuum between the psychological breakdowns of characters in Edgar Allan Poe’s Gothic stories and those found in Stephen King’s novels. The vampires in works by Rice and Harris are the heirs of the pseudo-vampiric creatures found in H. P. Lovecraft’s ‘The Hound’ (1924) and ‘The Outsider’ (1926). And the generic hybridization of Gothic and Romance in the sagas by Meyer and Smith mirror the blending of Gothic with Romance in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter (1850) and House of the Seven Gables (1851). Gothic never dies: it just morphs into different forms at different historical moments.

Author(s)Edwards, Justin D.
Title of seriesCambridge Companions to Literature
Publication date30/11/2017
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publisher URL…THOAMvxQ8RWLv.97
Place of publicationCambridge
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