Death, Decay and Domesticity: The Corpse as Pivotal Stage Presence in Howard Barker’s Dead Hands

  • Lara Maleen Kipp
Part of the Palgrave Gothic book series (PAGO)


The chapter examines the contemporary Gothic aesthetic of British playwright Howard Barker by way of an example, the 2004 play Dead Hands. In particular, it analyses the three themes of paternity, sexuality and taboo in relation to the corpse as central stage object in the play text and in production by The Wrestling School company. The chapter places Barker’s work in relation to a long tradition of these, and other prominent Gothic themes and related imagery, and details his specific, subversive engagement with them. It contextualises the analysis by drawing on Kristeva’s writing on the abject (1987), Botting’s writing on the Gothic (1996) and Lingis’ writing on eroticism, and the impact of sex and death on the perception of time (2000).


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lara Maleen Kipp
    • 1
  1. 1.Independent ResearcherAberystwythUK

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