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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The child and the gothic body : a study of abjection and nineteenth century influences in selected works of contemporary gothic children's literature Dunford, Laura


This study explores the development of child-monster figures in a selection of contemporary Gothic children’s novels: Surrender by Sonya Hartnett, The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs by Jack Gantos, and The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer. Using a combined psychoanalytic and historicist approach, drawing on the works of Julia Kristeva and numerous nineteenth-century European theorists, including Cesare Lombroso and Max Nordau, this thesis explores how the experience of abjection has continued to be expressed and understood in contemporary texts through nineteenth-century European pseudo-science. The analysis reveals a connection between current cultural anxieties and nineteenth-century anxieties in Britain in regard to rising technology, specifically technology threatening to affect the human body/species. The three primary texts examined in the thesis use the child-monster’s connection with the maternal body to express anxieties about the future of human reproduction.

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