Gothic heroines and cultural trauma in 20th Century literature and film

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Gothic heroines and cultural trauma in 20th Century literature and film

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Analyzes how 20th Century British writers and Hollywood filmmakers have adapted common features of the Gothic literary tradition - the imperiled but investigative heroine, the attractive but coercive villain, and the portrait of a female predecessor - to address massive traumas that have been repressed by, but which continue to affect, modern cultures. Argues that, in each case, the text "acts out" the repressed cultural trauma underlying its narrative through the heroine's narcissistic over-identification with a portrait of a female predecessor. However, through scenes that disturbingly mirror the heroine and the villain, each work portrays the consequence of that repression: an irruption of traumatic past violence in the present. While the works I consider thereby address the shortcomings of public narratives that strive to evade or redeem collective trauma, they also foreground Gothic ambiguity and excess to acknowledge the limits of their own representational responses.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. January 2015. Major: English. Advisor: Dr. Lois Cucullu. 1 computer filoe (PDF); iii, 169 pages.

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Brownell, Eric. (2015). Gothic heroines and cultural trauma in 20th Century literature and film. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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