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					                                  Image credit: Victor GAD




                                                  Marija Dalbello

                                                  Horror
                                                  “concerned with knowledge as theme”




Rutgers
School of Communication, Information,
and Library Studies
dalbello@scils.rutgers.edu
http://www.scils.rutgers.edu/~dalbello
Horror
_______________________________________
Paradoxes of the heart

1) How can anyone be frightened by what they know does not exist?
2) Why would anyone ever be interested in horror, since being horrified is so unpleasant?




Art horror vs. Natural horror
emotion caused by the characteristic structures, imagery, and figures in the genre vs.
reality
Horror
_______________________________________
Pre-theoretical history of the horror genre:

Precursors: English gothic novel, Schauer-Roman, roman noir
Historical types:
   Historical gothic (imagined past without supernatural events)
   Natural or explained gothic (introduces supernatural and explains it away)
        Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)
   Supernatural gothic (supernatural events)
   Equivocal gothic (supernatural origin of events in the text rendered ambiguous by
   means of psychologically disturbed characters)
Examples:
   Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818)
   John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819)
   Charles Robert Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)
   Edgar Allan Poe
   popularity of gothic: 1820-1870
   Subgenres (ghost lit, alien invasion, tales of vampires, werewolves, zombies,
Horror
_______________________________________

Monsters (extraordinary characters in an ordinary world )
  • Incomplete representatives of their class; abominations;
  monsters’ categorical incompleteness: disintegrating things,
  formless, rotting
  • Interstitial, indescribable, inconceivable, It / Them

Revulsion (violation of schemes of cultural categorization;
category mistakes are impure)

What are monsters made of?
      fission (spatial or temporal)
      fusion
Horror
_______________________________________
Plot structure
1. Complex discovery plot
         onset                    discovery              confirmation          confrontation

2. Discovery plot
         onset                    discovery              confirmation

3. Over-reacher plot (forbidden knowledge)
          preparation         experiment                 boomerang             confrontation

14 possible horror formulas (Carroll, p. 116)
Modification of the order of expositon by flashbacks, flashforwards, iteratives, nestings


Suspense (relative probabilities at the heart of horror appeal)
Fantastic hesitation (fantastic uncanny vs. fantastic marvelous; creating fantastic:
use of weak models and keep the evidence as indecisive as possible)
Horror
_______________________________________
What is horror about?
Concerned with knowledge as theme: rendering the unknown known
Cognitive threat as a major factor in the generation of art-horror: how can you resolve
contradictions (rationality)


Reaction to the culture of materialistic sophistication (post-Enlightenment) (Carroll, p.
162)
          Instinctual attraction & capacity for awe
          Religious feeling in our culture was demeaned by ‘materialistic sophistication’
          Intuition is denied by the culture of materialistic sophistication
          Horror evokes cosmic fear
          Coeval with religious feeling
          Gratifications of being in an emotional state
          Experiencing the numinous

Numinous experience (mysterium tremendum fascinans et augustum)
Horror
_______________________________________

The politics of horror


Is art-horror ideological?
       (xenophobic, progressive, misogynist, politically repressive)



Horror as carnival
       (rituals of inversion for mass society: normal/abnormal/normal as allegory of
       reinstatement but it doesn’t work all the time - abnormal is not always
       expelled)



Horror as transmedia phenomenon (Carroll, p. 108)

				
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posted:5/9/2013
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