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Title: Womb phantasies in international horror and extreme cinema
Author: Haylett Bryan, Alice Rachel
ISNI:       0000 0004 6421 4948
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis explores the relationship between womb phantasies and the proliferation of womb and birth symbolism in international horror and extreme cinema from the mid-twentieth to early twenty-first century. It presents a new cross-national reading of this symbolism as revealing the oppressed and repressed desire to return to the early mother-child dyad, through the use of culturally specific psychoanalytic theory. Chapter 1 outlines the position of the womb phantasy in Freud’s work, providing the critical engagement with this founding theory necessary for the ensuing cross-cultural readings of film and psychoanalytic theory. Subsequent chapters then trace the presence of the womb phantasy in key films from France, America, South Korea and Japan. Chapter 2 establishes the background for the womb phantasy by exploring the representation of the primal phantasies in French cinema, providing a critique of the patriarchal construction of femininity and motherhood using the work of Irigaray, Kristeva and Anzieu. Chapter 3 evaluates the representation of symbiotic motherchild relationships in American horror as symbolic of the womb phantasy, using the work of Mahler, Chodorow and Horney. Chapter 4 questions what happens when this symbiosis is interrupted, with the research of Min, Chung and Cho enabling an analysis of the motifs of abortion, infanticide and death in key films from South Korea. Chapter 5 then shows how the womb is presented as a liminal space between life and death in Japanese cinema with reference to the work of Kitayama, before exploring the correlation between Doi’s theory of amae and the womb phantasy. This thesis thus combines close filmic analysis with psychoanalytic theory to pinpoint the consistencies and variations in the international obsession with the womb in horror and extreme cinema, whilst simultaneously providing the first detailed study of how womb phantasies have become ingrained in psychoanalytic theory across the world.
Supervisor: Choi, Jinhee ; Cooper, Sarah Jane Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available