Communication and Construction of Monstrous Embodiment
June 15-16, 2012

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Horror and the Monstrous Feminine

For an exploration of the monstrous feminine and horror, take a look at Barbara Creed's 'Horror and the Monstrous-Feminine: An Imaginary Abjection'. Most of you will be able to access this text through your university / institution.
This fascinating article explores horror films, experiencing 'the abject', horror sub-genres and various socially-constructed notions of the horrific mediated through images of the monstrous body, blood, vomit, pus and excrement. In Barbara Creed's words:

The horror film abounds in images of abjection, foremost of which is the corpse, whole and mutilated, followed by an array of bodily wastes such as blood, vomit, saliva, sweat, tears and putrefying flesh. In terms of Kristeva's notion of the border, when we say such-and-such a horror film 'made me sick' or 'scared the shit out of me', we are actually foregrounding that specific horror film as a 'work of abjection' or 'abjection at work' - in both literal and metaphoric sense. Viewing the horror film signifies a desire not only for perverse pleasure (confronting sickening, horrific images, being filled with terror / desire for the undifferentiated) but also a desire, having taken pleasure in perversity, to throw up, to throw out, eject the abject (from the safety of the spectator's seat).

Creed offers succinct readings of films such as the Exorcist, Carrie and Alien, as well as the mythological female monsters such as the Sphinx and the Medusa, mediated through concepts like the phallic mother, castration anxieties, female fetishism and numerous others.
Finally, Creed considers the central ideological project of popular horror films to be the 'purification of the abject', bringing about the confrontation with the abject' like the corpse, bodily wastes, the monstrous-feminine in order to eject it and 're-draw the boundaries between the human and non-human.'
If the above-mentioned concepts of blood, gore, monstrosities and 'ejecting the abject' touch upon your areas of interest, this text might prove inspiring indeed!

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