Dangerous bodies

Historicising the gothic corporeal

By Marie Mulvey-Roberts

Dangerous bodies


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  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8541-3
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £75.00
  • Published Date: January 2016
  • BIC Category: Literature, Romanticism, Literary studies: general, Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers, Gothic, LITERARY CRITICISM / Gothic & Romance, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: general


Through an investigation of the body and its oppression by the church, the medical profession and the state, this book reveals the actual horrors lying beneath fictional horror in settings as diverse as the monastic community, slave plantation, operating theatre, Jewish ghetto and battlefield trench. The book provides original readings of canonical Gothic literary and film texts including The Castle of Otranto, The Monk, Frankenstein, Dracula and Nosferatu. This collection of fictionalised dangerous bodies is traced back to the effects of the English Reformation, Spanish Inquisition, French Revolution, Caribbean slavery, Victorian medical malpractice, European anti-Semitism and finally warfare, ranging from the Crimean up to the Vietnam War. The endangered or dangerous body lies at the centre of the clash between victim and persecutor and has generated tales of terror and narratives of horror, which function to either salve, purge or dangerously perpetuate such oppositions. This ground-breaking book will be of interest to academics and students of Gothic studies, gender and film studies and especially to readers interested in the relationship between history and literature.


'Admirable! Now at last I know what "Gothic" means.'
Fay Weldon

'This book breaks new ground in Gothic studies by relating a series of enduring images of the body in torment to actual historical events and trends[...] A significant addition to the body of writing on the Gothic, the study of Gothic as writing on the body.'
David Punter, Professor of English, University of Bristol

'Mulvey-Roberts has put together an excellent text that is soundly designed and structured, rigorously documented and supported through compact and learned endnotes, and includes cogently argued concepts, analyses, and interpretations. Dangerous Bodies: Historicising the Gothic Corporeal will, I hope, become a standard text for the field.'
Edmund Cueva, The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies 16 (Autumn 2017)

'. this study is a deeply historicized and thoroughly researched reading of several canonical Gothic texts and one film, spanning the period from the eighteenth to the twentieth century . The array of topics brought together here is dizzying . the past scholarship and new insights are brought together to create a seamless account of how the Gothic recounts, parallels, anticipates, and unfortunately sometimes encourages historical atrocity . Dangerous Bodies [is] a valuable and unflinching analysis that reaches beyond our current critical limits.'
Kasee Laster, University of North Georgia, Science Fiction Studies


Marie Mulvey-Roberts is Associate Professor in English Literature at the University of the West of England, Bristol


1. Catholicism, the Gothic and the bleeding body
2. Mary Shelley, Frankenstein and slavery
3. Death by orgasm: sexual surgery and Dracula
4. Nazis, Jews and Nosferatu
5. The vampire of war
6. Conclusion: conflict Gothic

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