House of Horrors

Familial Intimacies in Contemporary American Horror Fiction

Author(s) Agnieszka Kotwasińska

Language: English

Genre(s): Literary Criticism

Series: Horror Studies

  • June 2023 · 256 pages ·216x138mm

  • · Hardback - 9781837720125
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781837720132
  • · eBook - epub - 9781837720149

About The Book

This is a study of tumultuous transformations of kinship and intimate relationships in American horror fiction over the last three decades. Twelve contemporary novels (by ten women writers and two whose work has been identified as women’s fiction) are grouped into four main thematic clusters – haunted houses; monsters; vampires; and hauntings – but it is social scripts and concerns linked directly to intimacy and family life that structure the entire volume. By drawing attention to how the most intimate of all social relationships – the family – supports and replicates social hierarchies, exclusions, and struggles for dominance, the book problematises the source of horror. The consideration of horror narratives through the lens of familial intimacies makes it possible to rethink genre boundaries, to question the efficacy of certain genre tropes, and to consider the contribution of such diverse authors as Kathe Koja, Tananarive Due, Gwendolyn Kiste, Elizabeth Engstrom, Sara Gran and Caitlín R. Kiernan.


Theoretically savvy and demonstrating an impressive command of Gothic Horror, Kotwasińska’s analysis of kinship, intimacy, and corporeality in women’s horror makes clear how ideas of family often act as sources of dread rather than comfort in the work of Kathe Koja, Poppy Z. Brite, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Tananarive Due and others. This is an essential contribution to the study of modern horror.’

Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, Central Michigan University


Defining Horror
Horror and the Gothic
Women Writers in Horror Fiction and Horror Studies
Defining Intimacy
Overview of Chapters
Chapter 1. Uncanny in the House of Fear
Uncanny Houses
Void Dreams in Dead in the Water
Unhomely Funhole in The Cipher
The Queer (Uncanny) Desire in Drawing Blood
Chapter 2. Grotesque Monsters and Hybrid Subjectivities
Grotesque Bodies
Hybrid Lesbian Bodies in The Drowning Girl
Male Grotesque in Sineater
Monstrous Girlhood in The Rust Maidens
Chapter 3. Blood(y) Ties in Vampire Fictions
Towards Abjection
Gilda’s Sensual Vampires
Escaping the ‘Little Wife’ in Black Ambrosia
Prodigal Children (Not) Coming Home
Chapter 4. Spectral Kinship and Ghostly Selves
The Ghostly Other in Horror Fiction
Dangerous Dis/possessions in Come Closer
The ‘Wandering Subject’ in The Between
Familial Disintegration in Within These Walls

About the Author(s)

Author(s): Agnieszka Kotwasińska

Agnieszka Kotwasińska is Assistant Professor at the American Studies Center, University of Warsaw, where she teaches and researches popular genres, horror cinema and literature, embodiment and gender.

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