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The Necropolitan Gothic

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Abstract

This chapter explores the representation of the grave and burial grounds from the proto-Gothic Graveyard Poetry of the 1740s, via the use of the horror of the individual corpse in 1790s Gothic romance and popular tales of bodysnatching in the 1820s to Dickens’ pivotal use of the pestilential inner city burial ground in his novel Bleak House (1853). It tracks these shifts as a reflection of a cultural change in Britain from favouring the local churchyard or urban graveyard to the suburban ‘garden cemetery’ that became realised by the 1840s. This shift is part of a response to the pressing hygiene issue of how to manage the increasing number of dead as urbanisation concentrated large numbers of the poor in inner city areas. As a problem of number, the essay suggests that Utilitarian and public health reformers had developed, by the 1830, a new kind of ‘necropolitics’—an extension of the biopolitical management of living bodies to the issue of the numberless dead.

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Correspondence to Roger Luckhurst .

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Luckhurst, R. (2021). The Necropolitan Gothic. In: Bloom, C. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Gothic Origins. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-84562-9_13

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