What Ever Happened to My Peace of Mind? Hag Horror as Narrative of Trauma

Authors

  • Tomasz Fisiak University of Łódź

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18778/2083-2931.09.19

Keywords:

Grande Dame Guignol, hag horror, trauma theory, Gothic

Abstract

In his pioneering study of Grande Dame Guignol (also referred to as hag horror or psycho-biddy), a female-centric 1960s subgenre of horror film, Peter Shelley explains that the grande dame, a stock character in this form of cinematic expression, “may pine for a lost youth and glory, or she may be trapped by idealized memories of childhood, with a trauma that haunts her past” (8). Indeed, a typical Grande Dame Guignol female protagonist/antagonist (as these two roles often merge) usually deals with various kinds of traumatic experiences: loss of a child, domestic violence, childhood abuse, family conflicts or sudden end of career in the fickle artistic industry, etc. Unable to cope with her problems, but also incapable of facing the inevitable process of aging and dying, she gradually yields to mental and physical illnesses that further strengthen the trauma and lead to her social exclusion, making her life even more unbearable. Unsurprisingly, scholars such as Charles Derry choose to name psycho-biddies horrors of personality, drawing attention to the insightful psychological portrayal of their characters. Thus, it would be relevant and illuminating to discuss films such as Die! Die! My Darling! (1965) and Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1971) as narratives of trauma. This will be the main concern of my article.

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Author Biography

Tomasz Fisiak, University of Łódź

Tomasz Fisiak is Assistant Professor in the Department of Canadian, Intermedial and Postcolonial Studies, Institute of English Studies, University of Łódź. In 2014 he defended his PhD in which he analyzed the portraits of female tyrants in selected Gothic novels. He also holds an MA degree in International Gender Studies, Faculty of International and Political Studies, University of Łódź. Gothicism as a widely understood cultural phenomenon, as well as gender/queer issues, remain the main subjects of his research. He has published articles on feminist auto/biographies, horror cinema, and modern erotic fiction.

References

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Die! Die! My Darling! Dir. Silvio Narizzano. Perf. Tallulah Bankhead, Stefanie Powers. Columbia Pictures Corporation/Hammer Film Productions, 1965. Film.

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Published

2019-12-30

How to Cite

Fisiak, T. (2019). What Ever Happened to My Peace of Mind? Hag Horror as Narrative of Trauma. Text Matters: A Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture, (9), 316-327. https://doi.org/10.18778/2083-2931.09.19

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