Establishing the new queer gothic: reading queer girls and women in contemporary gothic fiction and film

  • Robyn Ollett

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis examines the relationship between Queer narratives, issues and subjectivities and their context within contemporary film and fiction of the Gothic mode. The project proposes the category of the ‘New Queer Gothic’, a term coined with a certain taxonomy of film and fiction in mind. The texts in this taxonomy are new because they have been released or published within the past fifteen years; they are queer in the ways in which they represent queer subjectivity, queer issues and queer narratives; and they are Gothic because they present themes, aesthetic stylings or narrative motifs common to the Gothic mode. Recognising that existing scholarship in the field of the Queer Gothic privileges subjectivities and issues important to the homosexual male subject, this thesis will take as its focus female queerness, looking specifically at fiction and films which feature queer girlhood and young womanhood. This thesis first will outline the specific literary and academic milestones which facilitated the arrival of New Queer Gothic literature and films into Western culture, looking specifically at the works and legacies of Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice, Angela Carter and Sarah Waters. My second chapter will analyse the figure of the Queer Gothic child in the contemporary reimagining of Henry James’s classic Gothic novella, The Turn of the Screw, John Harding’s 2010 novel Florence and Giles using the queer feminist ethics of Lynne Huffer. Debating modes of reading, and utilising Eve Sedgwick’s invaluable theories on queerness, chapters three and four of my thesis offer close readings of Black Swan (2010), Jack and Diane (2010), and The Handmaiden (2017), three New Queer Gothic films which present the queer subjectivity of young women, asking whether there is ambivalence in these representations, whether female queerness continues to be fetishized and analysing instances in which such a tradition is challenged or queered. The final chapters of my thesis focus on queer female adolescence and girlhood. A close reading of Julia Ducournau’s Raw (2016) debates the relationships between genre, form and value, as well as the intersections of cannibal fiction and queerness. Synthesising gothic studies, feminist theory, postcolonial theory and biopolitics, my final chapter analyses Queer Gothic girlhood as represented in Helen Oyeyemi’s novel, The Icarus Girl (2005) and M.R. Carey’s The Girl with all the Gifts (2014).
Date of Award2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
SupervisorRachel Carroll (Supervisor), Ruth Robbins (Supervisor) & Sarah Illot (Supervisor)

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