Gothic contextualization
in Gothic Forms of Feminine Fictions
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Contextualising, the process of culturally situating a text, has been essential to culture critics in general and to feminist critics in particular. The gothic's traditionally anti-realist mode of representation and contextualisation has come to be seen in new ways after the 'death of the novel' crisis, which left the ideal of realism behind. This chapter explores gothic's specific anti-realism relationship to experience with regard to its thematic, formal and more theoretical dimensions in gothic form. It also explores the background to neo-gothic excess by working out its traditional contextualising strategies in thematic, formal and cultural dimensions: in recent gothic criticism and in two early classics, Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho and Mary Wollstonecraft's The Wrongs of Woman: or, Maria. The chapter shows how gothic escape is concerned with dungeons, prison, and houses, and also with the idea of 'Woman' and its cultural containment.


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