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The Cambridge History of the Gothic The Cambridge History of the Gothic
Volume 3: Gothic in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
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3.5 - Gothic and War, 1930‒1991

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 July 2021

Catherine Spooner
Affiliation:
Lancaster University
Dale Townshend
Affiliation:
Manchester Metropolitan University
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Summary

The period from 1930 to 1990 saw an extraordinary development in the use of Gothic and horror to tell narratives about war and combat, mainly for two main purposes: first, to reveal and accentuate the horrific damage caused to bodies by combat, usually in order to denounce and demystify war; and second, figuratively to depict the less visible ways in which combat and war violence affect soldiers and civilians on a psychological level, especially through fear and trauma. A third form of War Gothic involves the dehumanisation of enemies by portraying them as monsters. All three forms are concerned with the ways in which war robs humans of their humanity, though the first two are largely critical of war while the third is basically a form of militaristic jingoism. This chapter focuses on a selection of texts from the first Hollywood zombie film, White Zombie (1932), to Jacob’s Ladder (1990), focusing especially on the Second World War and its veterans, and the literature and cinema of the Vietnam War. It ends with a brief discussion of War Gothic in the film and video game representations of the First Gulf War.

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The Cambridge History of the Gothic
Volume 3: Gothic in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
, pp. 99 - 117
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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