Literature as Cultural Ecology: New Perspectives on the Gothic Syndrome


Lap Lambert Academic Publishing, Saarbrücken, 2011

  • Publication Type: Book / Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Publisher: Lap Lambert Academic Publishing
  • City: Saarbrücken


This book is an attempt to apply Hubert Zapf’s theory, “literature as cultural ecology” to gothic literature. The motivation of this study was to explore the transformations of gothic literature throughout the 20th century in the light of a classic “literary” theory, instead of the postmodern debates of cultural studies, albeit the ever-up-to-dateness of gothic literature as a perpetual criticism of culture. The gothic attributes are identified as “gothic syndrome,” in that they emerge as a cluster of miscellaneous syndromes in the novels. In Ian McEwan’s The Comfort of Strangers, the gothic syndrome is displayed by the topography of Venice and the prospective results of a repressive perception of classicism, whereas in Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor it is achieved through the shifts in time and language, along with the challenge of “dark” anxieties. Stephen King’s Misery reveals the phenomenon in problematizing the literary market in the face of a malevolent Magna Mater figure and the uncanny experience of a writer. In Chuck Palahniuk’s Diary, the gothic syndrome is provided through the demonstration of how the grotesque works within the frame of gothic literature.