Frankenstein’s Daughters: on the Rising Trend of Women’s Body Horror in Contemporary Fiction

Abstract

In recent years, works of fiction written by women examining selfhood and the Other in relation to women’s physical bodies have been brought to the forefront of literary pop culture. From Carmen Maria Machado’s National Book Award-nominated short fiction collection Her Body and Other Parties to “Cat Person,” the short story by Kristen Roupenian that “broke the internet” in December of 2017, readers can’t seem to get enough of stories and works that openly examine women’s relationships with their bodies and how these bodies operate within our world. However, the women in these works often don’t quite inhabit our world. By projecting elements of the supernatural and the uncanny onto fictional worlds and the women that inhabit them, female writers are taking the opportunity to use horror fiction to elevate conversations surrounding woman- and selfhood, using the discomfort evoked by body horror to demystify and normalize discussions surrounding women’s bodies and their natural functions previously considered grotesque.

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Correspondence to Melanie Rapoport.

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Rapoport, M. Frankenstein’s Daughters: on the Rising Trend of Women’s Body Horror in Contemporary Fiction. Pub Res Q 36, 619–633 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12109-020-09761-x

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Keywords

  • Body horror
  • Horror fiction
  • Female adolescence
  • Women’s literature
  • Selfhood