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June 06 , 2008

The Gothic Body

Sexuality, Materialism, and Degeneration at the Fin de Siècle


Readers familiar with Dracula and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde may not know that dozens of equally remarkable Gothic texts were written in Great Britain at the end of the nineteenth-century. This book accounts for the resurgence of Gothic, and its immense popularity, during the British fin de siècle. Kelly Hurley explores a key scenario that haunts the genre: the loss of a unified and stable human identity, and the emergence of a chaotic and transformative 'abhuman' identity in its place. She shows that such representations of Gothic bodies are strongly indebted to those found in nineteenth-century biology and social medicine, evolutionism, criminal anthropology, and degeneration theory. Gothic is revealed as a highly productive and speculative genre, standing in opportunistic relation to nineteenth-century scientific and social theories.

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