• The Horror of Sex: Gothic Asexuality and Medical Body Horror in The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

    Vicky Brewster (see profile)
    Asexual people, Gothic fiction (Literary genre), American literature, Horror fiction, Medicine in literature, Queer theory
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    British Association for American Studies 2023
    Conf. Org.:
    British Association for American Studies
    Conf. Loc.:
    Keele University
    Conf. Date:
    12-14 April 2023
    asexuality, asexual narratives, caitlin starling, contemporary fiction, horror fiction, medical gothic, queer gothic
    Permanent URL:
    An under-represented area of queer gothic, asexuality may seem at odds with the sweeping romance of Gothic tropes. However, contemporary Gothic texts demonstrate a perverse drawing towards and repulsion from sexual attraction in its asexual and ace-spectrum characters. In Caitlin Starling’s The Death of Jane Lawrence, this repulsion-fascination works in accord with the book’s medical themes, themselves classically Gothic, as the author draws on Victorian surgical and medical techniques, and invoking images of body horror. This paper demonstrates an emerging trope of equating the sexual with the medical in a way that reflects an asexual perspective on sex in Gothic horror texts, firstly by examining the sexuality of Jane Lawrence to establish her as an asexual or ace-spectrum representative. It will then examine the language used as Jane begins to encounter sexual attraction, demonstrating a link between her growing knowledge of surgery and a linguistic crossover with her experience of sexuality. Finally, this paper will suggest further areas for research on asexuality in Gothic American fiction, foregrounding this text’s place in continuing planned research.
    Last Updated:
    6 months ago
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    Item Name: docx 2023-04-05-baas-conference-paper.docx
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