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Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters Hardcover – August 22, 1995

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Editorial Reviews Review

In this academic work of film and literary criticism, Judith Halberstam examines the monster as cultural object. She discusses classic gothic texts such as Frankenstein and Dracula, and then looks at the impact of changing technology (horror movies with special effects) for depicting monsters. Her argument is that the gothic in its more lurid, unabashedly violent, and perverse forms may be more empowering to the reader/viewer than in its carefully articulated, understated, and sublimated forms. H-Net Reviews calls Skin Shows an "intelligent, well-informed, and provocative piece of writing" and writes that its "greatest strength ... is that it allows for other critics of the Gothic to proceed more self-consciously about the presuppositions that particularly psychoanalysis has introduced into the academic discussion." One caveat, though: the language is somewhat turgid, with awkward verbs such as "gothicize" and "metaphorize." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


“Halberstam’s argument is elegant in its simplicity, but far-reaching in its implications. Providing a strikingly original account of the Gothic, she proposes through her work a cultural history of fear and prejudice and, thus, paves the way for a new scholarly enterprise."—Ann Cvetkovich, University of Texas, Austin

"Skin Shows is the Gothic book that many of us have been waiting for, and it is every bit as smart as we had hoped it would be. Halberstam’s notion of monstrosity will change Gothic studies for good. The results are dazzling."—George E. Haggerty, University of California, Riverside

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (August 22, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082231651X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822316510
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,928,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J. Jack Halberstam is the author of "Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal" (Beacon Press, 2012), along with four other books, including "Female Masculinity" and "In a Queer Time and Place." Currently a professor of English and gender studies and director of the Center for Feminist Research at the University of Southern California, Halberstam regularly speaks on queer culture, gender studies, and popular culture, and blogs at The Bully Bloggers.

Photo Credit: Assaf Evron, 2012.

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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Ng Hock Soon on May 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
Indeed, the literary genre that we know as the gothic is inexhaustible in its interpretive capacity. From Freud's theory of the Uncanny and Mourning/Melancholia, to Feminist theories and reader response approaches (such as that of Norman Holland's), the gothic as a literary outsider has come a long way from its inception as a marginal form of literature to become one of the most studied and complex form of writing. Halberstam's book is one of the latest critical offerings of reading the Gothic, and it is indeed a timely arrival of an otherwise over-determined reading of this particular genre from the various theoretical approaches (interesting as they may be). Halberstam's approach, grounded in history and racism, renews the gothic's early preoccupation with otherness and the fear of it, but which emphasizes the societal fear of the alien/foreign other, and not so much the struggle between the public and private selves (the beloved of psychoanalytical theory). Her most interesting chapter is the reading of Stoker's `Dracula' as an anti-semitic propoganda text; indeed, I have appropriated some of her ideas in my view on postcolonial gothic, for I find that her theoretical stance has much to offer in this new and under-emphasized aspect of gothic literature. Halberstam's careful and brilliant intertwining of psychoanalysis, race-relations theory (history) and literary deconstruction is also critically executed in clear, precise language. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to have a fresh outlook on gothic literature.
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