Haunted by the uncanny - development of a genre from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth century
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Comparative Literature (Interdepartmental Program)
This dissertation traces the development of the supernatural from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth-century. Since supernatural elements are unknown and unfamiliar, they easily arouse anxiety, fear, and even result in terror. As such they produce the effect of the uncanny and introduce the psychological component into the selected literary corpus taken from the English Gothic novel, the German Schauerroman, and the French littérature fantastique. The analysis of the selected material is based on a psychoanalytical approach using Sigmund Freud’s understanding of the uncanny, his dream analysis, and his view of the conscious and unconscious, but also considers Carl Gustav Jung’s perception of dreams and of the unconscious. In doing so, man descends into his psyche, the place where he confronts something unfamiliar, something unheimlich. In stressing literature’s psychological component and in focusing on the literary formation of the uncanny, I elaborate the development of a genre, which has always existed but so far never been defined: the ‘Literature of the uncanny;’ a genre comprising Gothic fiction, Schauerroman, and la littérature fantastique. Within this comparative project, I do not only attempt to erase the long-erroneous apprehension that the three genres just mentioned are culturally and temporally independent from each other, but I demonstrate that these genres are rather building blocks than independent factors of uncanny literary fiction. This project will illustrate that the uncanny has always been an important characteristic of the genre, but that, over time, its psychological connotation has “architecturally” changed from the once gothic setting of an old mysterious castle to the human mind, encompassing the Freudian ego, Id, and super-ego on the one hand, and / or the Jungian personal and collective unconscious on the other hand.
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Reuber, Alexandra Maria, "Haunted by the uncanny - development of a genre from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth century" (2004). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 1937.