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Image credit: Victor GAD. Marija Dalbello Horror . Rutgers School of Communication, Information, and Library Studies Horror _______________________________________ paradoxes of the heart

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Image credit: Victor GAD

Marija Dalbello



School of Communication, Information, and Library Studies

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paradoxes of the heart

1) How can anyone be frightened by what they know does not exist?

2) Why would anyone ever be interested in horror, since being horrified is so unpleasant?

art horror vs. natural horror

emotion caused by the characteristic structures, imagery, and figures in the genre vs. reality

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pre-theoretical history of the horror genre:

English gothic novel (Schauer-Roman, roman noir)

historical gothic (imagined past without supernatural events)

natural or explained gothic (introduces supernatural and explains it away)

Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)

supernatural gothic (supernatural events)

equivocal gothic (supernatural origin of events in the text rendered ambiguous by means of psychologically disturbed characters)

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818)

John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819)

Charles Robert Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)

Edgar Allan Poe

popularity of gothic: 1820-1870

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Monsters (extraordinary characters in an ordinary world )

incomplete representatives of their class; abominations; monsters’ categorical incompleteness: disintegrating things, formless, rotting

interstitial, indescribable, inconceivable, It / Them

Revulsion (violation of schemes of cultural categorization; category mistakes are impure)

What are monsters made of?



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Plot structure

1. Complex discovery plot

onset discovery confirmation confrontation

2. Discovery plot

onset discovery confirmation

3. Over-reacher plot (forbidden knowledge)

preparation experiment boomerang confrontation

Suspense (relative probabilities at the heart of horror appeal)

Fantastic hesitation (fantastic uncanny vs. fantastic marvelous)

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What is horror about?

Concerned with knowledge as theme: rendering the unknown known

Cognitive threat as a major factor in the generation of art-horror

Reaction to the culture of materialistic sophistication (post-Enlightenment) (Carroll, p. 162)

instinctual attraction & capacity for awe

religious feeling in our culture was demeaned by ‘materialistic sophistication’

intuition is denied by the culture of materialistic sophistication

horror evokes cosmic fear

coeval with religious feeling

gratifications of being in an emotional state

Numinous experience (mysterium tremendum fascinans et augustum)

nonrational element as object of religious experience = numen

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The politics of horror

Is art-horror ideological?

(xenophobic, progressive, misogynist, politically repressive)

Horror as carnival (rituals of inversion)