The Biology of Horror: Gothic Literature and Film

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In this study of fearful fictions and films, Jack Morgan rends the gothic's biological core from its oft-discussed psychological elements and argues for a more trans-historical conception of the gothic, one negatively related to comedy. This work dissects popular examples from the gothic literary and cinematic canon, exposing the inverted comic paradigm within each text. Rooting his study in comedy as theoretically conceived by Suzanne Langer, C.L. Barber and Mikhail Bakhtin, Morgan analyses the physical and mythological nature of horror in inverted comic terms, identifying a biologically grounded mythos of horror. Motifs such as sinister loci, languishment, masquerade, and subversion of sensual perception are contextualized here as embedded in an organic reality, resonating with biological motives and consequences. Morgan also devotes a chapter to the migration of the gothic tradition into American horror. Morgan's subjects range from high gothic classics like Matthew Lewis's The Monk , Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein , to later literary works such as Poe's macabre tales, Melville's Benito Cereno , H.P. Lovecraft's The Shadow Over Innsmouth , Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hillhouse , Stephen King's Salem's Lot and Clive Barker's The Damnation Game . Films featured include Nosferatu , Invasion of the Body Snatchers , Friday the 13th , Night of the Living Dead , Angel Heart , The Stand and The Shining .