Necessary Evils: the Role of Horror in Modern and Contemporary Literature




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In my extensive studies of horror, I have found that the genre of horror has typically not been taken seriously in its own right. This can be extended to the occurrence of horror in other types of literature. Horror, if recognized at all, is viewed as a component of the story, and not necessarily as significant or as relevant as other aspects of the book. This dissertation approaches the problem of how literary horror can, genre or otherwise, be recognized as a part of legitimate and influential academic study and why such study is important. To do so, I examine multiple works of both genre horror and literary horror, using established literary theories to analyze and understand these written works. I also examine multiple works not classified as horror yet contain instances of significant horror to show that horror exists past the genre. I utilize literary theories such as the uncanny, the monstrous, Kristeva’s theory of abjection and the Jungian shadow to show the literary merits of these works. To not read horror is to ignore aspects of life that act as a mirror reflecting society and individual fears at any point in time. Such willful evasion can be detrimental. Dismissing horror as merely entertainment avoids the social and cultural deceits it can expose. Horror is an interpretation of what is both desired and feared in our lives. Its omnipresence makes it critical to be understood as a vehicle used to acknowledge and understand our fears, and ultimately determine the best way to handle them.



Literature, Modern