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The comfort of horror and the ambiguities of youth: contemporary gothic fiction and young readers

The comfort of horror and the ambiguities of youth: contemporary gothic fiction and young readers
The comfort of horror and the ambiguities of youth: contemporary gothic fiction and young readers
Contemporary young readers have not just derived comfort from their consumption of gothic texts, they have offered generative responses that indicate huge diversity in both content and format in their interrogation of the gothic. These generative responses, ranging from persuasive writing containing complex argument structures; parodies and satiric play, among other responses, indicate young readers’ confidence and comfort critiquing gothic texts. This is in contrast to well-documented adult fears and moral panic, past and present, about gothic texts’ perceived negative influence on young readers, such as having difficulty differentiating fact from fiction, or being easily misled by gothic’s compelling narratives. Borrowing research from sociology and psychology, in addition to literary theories, and data from neurological studies, this thesis offers a systematic investigation on young readers consuming gothic texts which are targeted at them, as opposed to the implied young reader of the gothic, or gothic texts targeted at adults. Using a historical case study of young adult readers, this study also demonstrates that the phenomenon of young readers avidly and comfortably interrogating the gothic, with no signs of being confused, is in fact, not new. Instead, having identified and defined two separate genres of gothic texts – romance gothic focusing on romance with the monster; and horror gothic which has explicit violence, and grotesque and disgusting elements – this investigation presents original data from fieldwork conducted at two local schools of 23 students (age eleven to thirteen) reading and discussing Darren Shan’s horror gothic text, Lord Loss. Data on reader reception for romance gothic is from young adult readers (age 25 and below), who have comfortably and confidently posted their responses online based on Stephenie Meyer’s romance gothic Twilight series of books and films. Evidence indicates that contemporary young readers are carving out their own unique (albeit transient) conceptual space, in which they have derived great comfort and enjoyment in consuming gothic texts of romance gothic or horror gothic. By sharing their opinions online, and in discussion groups, these young readers are discovering their own voice in passionately embracing or gleefully vanquishing the monster in the comfort of consuming horror.
University of Southampton
Tan, Sumei Karen Anne
dfea5b9c-ad2a-4f5e-bec0-5fc951b2ddc5
Tan, Sumei Karen Anne
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Cobb, Shelley
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Clery, Emma
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Tan, Sumei Karen Anne (2017) The comfort of horror and the ambiguities of youth: contemporary gothic fiction and young readers. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 257pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Contemporary young readers have not just derived comfort from their consumption of gothic texts, they have offered generative responses that indicate huge diversity in both content and format in their interrogation of the gothic. These generative responses, ranging from persuasive writing containing complex argument structures; parodies and satiric play, among other responses, indicate young readers’ confidence and comfort critiquing gothic texts. This is in contrast to well-documented adult fears and moral panic, past and present, about gothic texts’ perceived negative influence on young readers, such as having difficulty differentiating fact from fiction, or being easily misled by gothic’s compelling narratives. Borrowing research from sociology and psychology, in addition to literary theories, and data from neurological studies, this thesis offers a systematic investigation on young readers consuming gothic texts which are targeted at them, as opposed to the implied young reader of the gothic, or gothic texts targeted at adults. Using a historical case study of young adult readers, this study also demonstrates that the phenomenon of young readers avidly and comfortably interrogating the gothic, with no signs of being confused, is in fact, not new. Instead, having identified and defined two separate genres of gothic texts – romance gothic focusing on romance with the monster; and horror gothic which has explicit violence, and grotesque and disgusting elements – this investigation presents original data from fieldwork conducted at two local schools of 23 students (age eleven to thirteen) reading and discussing Darren Shan’s horror gothic text, Lord Loss. Data on reader reception for romance gothic is from young adult readers (age 25 and below), who have comfortably and confidently posted their responses online based on Stephenie Meyer’s romance gothic Twilight series of books and films. Evidence indicates that contemporary young readers are carving out their own unique (albeit transient) conceptual space, in which they have derived great comfort and enjoyment in consuming gothic texts of romance gothic or horror gothic. By sharing their opinions online, and in discussion groups, these young readers are discovering their own voice in passionately embracing or gleefully vanquishing the monster in the comfort of consuming horror.

Text
The Comfort of Horror and the Ambiguities of Youth: Contemporary Gothic Fiction and Young Readers - Version of Record
Restricted to Repository staff only until 31 January 2021.
Available under License University of Southampton Thesis Licence.

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Published date: June 2017

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 417859
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/417859
PURE UUID: 5370fc72-be36-4a0b-b0f6-ca89b0799a20
ORCID for Shelley Cobb: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1153-8482

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 15 Feb 2018 17:31
Last modified: 14 Mar 2019 01:39

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