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Queer Horror

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Book Chapter or Section

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This chapter examines the queer Gothicism of American horror to consider the ways in which marginalized genders and sexualities have been either condemned or covertly endorsed through horror’s textual and visual mediums. In mainstream cis-heteronormative society, queer genders and sexualities have been an abjectified, “horrific” presence, and these mainstream investments represented via horror, as a mode of expression devoted to irruptions of the body, means that the presence of queerness is often registered as an a priori spoliation of bodily norms. Like the term “queer” itself, audiences have often reappropriated the Gothic figures that appear in horror, and some queer creators have intentionally deployed such Gothicisms for the sake of representing queerness. This chapter explores the conflicting purposes of horror’s depiction of queerness by reviewing several Gothic tropes as they appear in American horror texts, focusing specifically on monstrosity, vampirism, the asylum, medical body horror, and haunting.


Westengard, Laura. “Queer Horror.” The Cambridge Companion to American Horror, edited by Stephen Shapiro and Mark Storey, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2022, pp. 120–138. Cambridge Companions to Literature.

Available for download on Saturday, January 21, 2023