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Haunting Corporeality: A Cultural History of the Animated Skeleton

The visage of an animated skeleton is an omnipresent theme in the cultural sphere of horror and the Gothic, but scant little attention has been given to this powerful symbol. My research blends literary studies, art history, archaeology, and thanatology to examine how the skeleton operates as a signifier throughout Western literary, visual, and material culture, originating during Medieval Christendom as a moralistic reminder of the afterlife and subsequently becoming a multi-faceted symbol for memorializing grief, disease and community health, class struggles, and ultimately humanity's own relationship with the vastness of time.

Killer Plants & Gothic Gardeners: Gendered EcoGothic Monsters

From tentacled blood-suckers, to carnivorous exotics with a desire for human flesh to human-plant hybrids, plant monster fiction has received little attention within a Gothic context or from an ecofeminist perspective. My research aims to establish plant monsters as ecoGothic tropes by exploring how the gendered attributes of plant and gardener reflect cultural anxieties of their time and asserting their ecoGothic monstrosity through their consumption of humans. Emerging ecoGothic criticism has largely focused on bleak landscapes, dark forests and spectral settings, exploring nature in the Gothic genre with an ecocritical eye. Analysing plant monsters as distinctive tropes, I would argue, provides a concrete hybridisation of ecocriticism and gothic theories as ecoGothic. Drawing on ecofeminist concepts of interconnectedness, such as Stacy Alaimo’s material trans-corporeality and Nancy Tuana’s viscous porosity alongside Female Gothic theories of monstrosity and the grotesque, my research aims to demonstrate how the plant monster not only challenges androcentric socio-cultural interpretations (particularly the gender associations) but also presents a case for the (hu)man-eating plant as an ecoGothic monster.

This study will examine the emergence of a fragile, schizoid male subjectivity in American Gothic literature whose presence in domestic, or quasi-domestic, settings results in that setting becoming sentient, mutating, moving, expanding and contracting to torment the character until death or expulsion is forced upon him. At the core of my research will be Stephen King's The Shining, Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves and Steve Rasnic Tem's Deadfall Hotel. I will be referencing the works of Derrida, R.D. Laing, Foucault, Badiou and Bachelard to identify the reasons for the development of this narrative trope from the 1970s and its proliferation post-2000 and explore the contemporary anxieties of the American male it represents.

Gothic Contagion: A Trans-Disciplinary Exploration of the Gothic Mode's Representations of Infectious Disease and its Implications for Public Health

This thesis sets out to investigate the ways in which Gothic depictions of contagion mediate public perceptions about health, wellbeing and community at key moments of crisis in the evolution of capitalism.

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