Gothic Forms of Feminine Fictions

The gothic has, for two hundred years, played an important role in female culture; and worked early on to feminise established literary forms and has, throughout its history, strongly challenged established notions of femininity. Neo-gothicism reflects the feminine dimensions of the ongoing cultural and literary change: gothic horror addresses 'gendered' problems of everyday life. This book focuses on the narrative and ideological components that shape gothic fictions as feminine forms. It explores the classic texts of two hundred years of gothicism on three levels. The first is their contextualising of the specific cultural-historical situation that they both come from and address. The second is their narrative texture, marked by a complex subjectivity; and third, the inter-textualisation of feminine gothic writing. Alice Munro's Lives of Girls and Women uses gothic contextualising to tell a gothic story of growing up, and Margaret Atwood's Lady Oracle parodically incorporates gothic texture. The gothicism of Aritha van Herk's No Fixed Address relies very much on the Canadian landscape, and points to the intersection of neo-gothicism and Canadian culture. Lynne Tillman's Haunted Houses is a fictional braid of three gothic life stories of girls growing up in contemporary Brooklyn; the 'haunted houses' of the title are their bodies that are not born but becoming women. Dress, a classic feminine gothic sign for both propriety and property, is shown in the postmodern context as thematic enclosure of the body as well as formal enclosure of the story.


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