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James McCrea

James McCrea
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 examines 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.


Research Degree: PhD, Full-time
Department: Gothic Studies
Research Centre: Centre for Creative Writing, English Literature and Linguistics

1808. Imagine Horatios surprise when the beautiful female ghost lifted her veil to reveal her skeletal form underneath. Illustration from The Midnight Groan, Wendy Fall