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OUR “HIDEOUS PROGENY”: MONSTROUS WOMANHOOD AT THE ADVENT OF THE FILM SEQUEL IN AMERICAN CINEMA, LITERATURE, AND POPULAR CULTURE

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Date Issued:
2023
Abstract/Description:
In 1935, as the first cinematic horror sequel in Hollywood, James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein helped ignite a new spark in cinema. Woman-gendered monsters, for the first time in cinema, were alive, in the flesh, and projected to massive proportions onto thousands of screens. While this was taking place on screen, women authors of the era of American literary modernism were producing works in which characters discussed, considered, and narrated their experience with monstrosity and their experience with seeing themselves as monstrous in their own respective contexts. Zelda Fitzgerald, the infamously “mad” wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, published works in which her narrator experiences feeling “monstrous” and “sick.” Zora Neale Hurston, working in fields of anthropology, literature, and playwriting, integrated monstrous references (like the increasingly popular Haitian Zombie) to represent historical, political, racial and gendered oppressions of the time. Djuna Barnes, known for her theatrical columns in The New Yorker, in which she underwent physical pain and extreme conditions for her work, published Nightwood which is now celebrated as one of the first major works of queer literature. In it, characters consider their own monstrosity in the context of gender and sexuality. In this study, I pair three of the era’s films featuring monstrous women (Bride of Frankenstein, White Zombie, and Dracula’s Daughter) with readings of major works by Zelda Fitzgerald, Zora Neale Hurston, and Djuna Barnes, while also considering these writers’ representation in press and publication in the 1930s United States. I use this to trace what I am identifying as the emergence of a trend of monstrous womanhood at this time, in which women characters emerged who refer to themselves as monstrous and whose existence and surroundings (social, material, and language-based) provide critique of the time’s conception of identity (gender-based, ability-based, race-based, and sexuality-based in particular). I root this discussion in the modern era in order to highlight ways that this trend of monstrous womanhood was born out of 1930s America’s particular cultural moment of intersection of mass-produced literature and film, especially as popular films and horror sequels amplified their existence for widespread audiences.
Title: OUR “HIDEOUS PROGENY”: MONSTROUS WOMANHOOD AT THE ADVENT OF THE FILM SEQUEL IN AMERICAN CINEMA, LITERATURE, AND POPULAR CULTURE.
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Name(s): Flint, Stephanie M. , author
Hagood, Taylor , Thesis advisor
Florida Atlantic University, Degree grantor
Comparative Studies Program
Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Electronic Thesis Or Dissertation
Date Created: 2023
Date Issued: 2023
Publisher: Florida Atlantic University
Place of Publication: Boca Raton, Fla.
Physical Form: application/pdf
Extent: 278 p.
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: In 1935, as the first cinematic horror sequel in Hollywood, James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein helped ignite a new spark in cinema. Woman-gendered monsters, for the first time in cinema, were alive, in the flesh, and projected to massive proportions onto thousands of screens. While this was taking place on screen, women authors of the era of American literary modernism were producing works in which characters discussed, considered, and narrated their experience with monstrosity and their experience with seeing themselves as monstrous in their own respective contexts. Zelda Fitzgerald, the infamously “mad” wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, published works in which her narrator experiences feeling “monstrous” and “sick.” Zora Neale Hurston, working in fields of anthropology, literature, and playwriting, integrated monstrous references (like the increasingly popular Haitian Zombie) to represent historical, political, racial and gendered oppressions of the time. Djuna Barnes, known for her theatrical columns in The New Yorker, in which she underwent physical pain and extreme conditions for her work, published Nightwood which is now celebrated as one of the first major works of queer literature. In it, characters consider their own monstrosity in the context of gender and sexuality. In this study, I pair three of the era’s films featuring monstrous women (Bride of Frankenstein, White Zombie, and Dracula’s Daughter) with readings of major works by Zelda Fitzgerald, Zora Neale Hurston, and Djuna Barnes, while also considering these writers’ representation in press and publication in the 1930s United States. I use this to trace what I am identifying as the emergence of a trend of monstrous womanhood at this time, in which women characters emerged who refer to themselves as monstrous and whose existence and surroundings (social, material, and language-based) provide critique of the time’s conception of identity (gender-based, ability-based, race-based, and sexuality-based in particular). I root this discussion in the modern era in order to highlight ways that this trend of monstrous womanhood was born out of 1930s America’s particular cultural moment of intersection of mass-produced literature and film, especially as popular films and horror sequels amplified their existence for widespread audiences.
Identifier: FA00014133 (IID)
Degree granted: Dissertation (PhD)--Florida Atlantic University, 2023.
Collection: FAU Electronic Theses and Dissertations Collection
Note(s): Includes bibliography.
Subject(s): American literature
Film studies
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/fau/fd/FA00014133
Use and Reproduction: Copyright © is held by the author with permission granted to Florida Atlantic University to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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Host Institution: FAU
Is Part of Series: Florida Atlantic University Digital Library Collections.