Author ORCID Identifier
Year of Publication
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Arts and Sciences
My dissertation argues we would benefit from focusing on the voice when analyzing gothic and horror texts. That is, I contend, there remains significant fertile ground for us to till in these texts if we shift our focus to the voice and its various iterations across these texts’ long history. To demonstrate this point, I delineate three variations of this theme: the doubled voice in the possession narrative, the split voice in the ventriloquist-dummy dynamic, and the inherent uncertainty of the voice without discernable origin. Each of these variations, I argue, offers fruitful readings of oft-studied texts and, moreover, offers interventions into existing scholarship on said texts.
In Chapter Two, I discuss how attending to the voice in The Exorcist allows us to trace the texts culturally conservative notions, and how doing the same in Hawthorne’s “Egotism; Or, the Bosom-Serpent” allows us to read that story as a possession narrative investigating the role of the self in early American society. Then, in Chapter Three, I highlight a more conspicuous yet still understudied iteration of the voice in ventriloquism. Here, I argue that the ventriloquist-dummy dynamic splits the ventriloquist’s self, thereby making these texts rich for psychological exploration and deserving of further scholarly attention. And, finally, in Chapter Four, I turn to texts where the voice’s origin is questionable. Here, I argue that reading Poe’s “The Raven” as a ventriloquial text allows us to answer some prevailing concerns in Poe studies as well as to discern the voice’s potential for exploiting epistemic uncertainty and thereby destabilizing audiences.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
West, Brandon, "Echoed Malice: Identity and the Doubled Voice in Gothic Horror" (2023). Theses and Dissertations--English. 164.