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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.

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