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Aggressive FictionsReading the Contemporary American Novel$
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Kathryn Hume

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450013

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450013.001.0001

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Conjugations of the Grotesque

Conjugations of the Grotesque

(p.77) 3 Conjugations of the Grotesque
Aggressive Fictions

Kathryn Hume

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the ways in which the grotesque can affect even the contemporary reader. Sophisticated readers pride themselves on being unshockable, but the grotesque depends upon shock, upon visceral responses that amount to an internal shiver or sense of recoil. Yet critics consider the grotesque impossible in the present day because we no longer have a single dominant culture to react against; and if the grotesque cannot currently exist or is unable to disturb readers, then it cannot be offered as a transgressive technique or means of discomfiting readers. However, the chapter maintains that the grotesque does still exist, and attempts to define it in its myriad forms and examine the reasons as to why the grotesque is used to affect the reader in the first place.

Keywords:   grotesque, visceral responses, dominant culture, shock value, transgressive techniques

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