• Avril Horner
  • Sue Zlosnik


In the midst of a welter of ‘spoofs’ and ‘ironic slasher movies’, ‘comic Gothic’ has perhaps been easily dismissed as parody in its lower sense. Preoccupied with the anxieties of modernity, deadly serious scholarly criticism of texts that disturb and shock has dominated the rise of Gothic studies. Thus, we have argued, the value of the comic turn in Gothic texts has been largely overlooked. What we have tried to do in Gothic and the Comic Turn is to open up a new approach to reading Gothic texts, one that recognizes the play of surface effects as they locate themselves on the unstable boundary between humour and horror and transgress it in both directions. We have avoided becoming mired in the attempt to set up a taxonomy of humour or of comic effects, just as we have resisted the depth model of reading offered by psychoanalysis. Rather than attempt a comprehensive survey of texts that might be deemed ‘comic Gothic’, we have offered the selective study appropriate to a book of this length. By focusing on exemplar texts, we have tried to sketch out a rough trajectory of the comic turn in Gothic from The Castle of Otranto to the 1980s. In so doing, we have concentrated mainly on British writing but have also considered the work of two North American writers where thematic links are strong.


Selective Study Lower Sense Comic Effect Depth Model Master Narrative 
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© Avril M. Horner and Susan H. Zlosnik 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Avril Horner
  • Sue Zlosnik

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