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Title: Unhuman borderlands : madness, metamorphic monsters and landscape in contemporary horror cinema
Author: Pugh, Catherine
ISNI:       0000 0004 5358 8282
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2014
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In this thesis, I examine metamorphic monsters and their landscapes as representatives of madness, offering a new framework for understanding the horror genre. I argue that parallels between these entities in twenty-first century American and British horror cinema evoke madness (the dramatic counterpart of mental illness), which can transform everything it touches, including identity, body and landscape. This thesis builds on work by, among others, Bellin, Tudor, Frayling and Clover, developing their theories to propose a new analysis of the metamorphic monster as a figure of madness. I apply Freud himself and writers using Freudian psychoanalytic frameworks, including Caruth's work on trauma and Wood's reading of the return of the repressed. I also use personal observations of mental illness and the testimonies of others, noting similarities between monsters and dissociative disorders. In Chapter One, I develop a taxonomy of madness in horror, proposing three categories of insanity corresponding to metamorphic monsters: 1) Feral State (wildness) and werewolves; 2) Tabula Rasa State ("blankness") and zombies; and 3) Fractured State (aloofness) and vampires. This thesis argues that madness reverses classic psychoanalytic traditions of examining trauma from the outside-in, as the excess of madness forces trauma onto the surface. Therefore, Chapter Two studies the body as a reflection of madness, utilising the work of critics such as Garland-Thomson and Sontag. In Chapter Three I propose that madness can create a delusional landscape: a deceitful world that sutures the spectator into insanity. I develop a model mapping madness onto landscapes based on shared characteristics between them: Feral/wild spaces; Tabula Rasa/dead spaces; Fractured/fragmented spaces. Chapters Four and Five utilise this model to explain relationships between monster and landscapes. Chapter Five applies the work of Lowenstein and explores the link between historical trauma and madness to argue that post-traumatic syndromes of conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq manifest in desert landscapes populated by zombies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available