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7 - Body Horror

from Part II - Genres

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 July 2022

Stephen Shapiro
University of Warwick
Mark Storey
University of Warwick
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Is all horror “body horror”? Can we think of the horror genre without thinking about the body’s messy and intimate materiality? This chapter looks at some of the queasier manifestations of horror culture, a mode that foregrounds questions of the body’s (and the reader’s or viewer’s) limits. Despite body horror’s association with recent cinema, this chapter argues for a longer and more diverse lineage for the term, an attention to embodied experience and its grotesque transformations that can be found in US fiction from Charles Brockden Brown’s spontaneous combustions in Wieland (1798) through to the zombie apocalypse novels of the twenty-first century. The emphasis is placed on five main types of body horror and their differences: hybrid corporeality, parasitism, abjection and disgust, the grotesque, and, finally, body horror built around gore and the explicit rendering of violence.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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