With Halloween right around the corner, there’s no better time to refresh your bookshelf with some terrifying tomes to curl up with on chilly October nights. Here are four of our must-read titles this October, picked especially for you.
Scare Tactics by Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock takes a close look at the tradition of American women’s supernatural writings, which Weinstock classifies as a feminist effort to construct mythical alternatives in a very limited and oppressed world. Weinstock’s book analyzes texts by well-known female authors such as Edith Wharton, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, as well as introducing lesser-known authors into our vocabulary. In Scare Tactics, Weinstock effectively develops the compelling argument that this body of supernatural female literature should be read specifically through the lens of feminist literary tradition. By listening to the largely unheard voices of these American women, we can reach a fuller understanding of the literary climate of their time as well as other American Gothic writers such as Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen King. (240 pages, paper, $25).
Realizing the Witch by Richard Baxstrom and Todd Meyers takes a scholarly approach on the well-known film by Benjamin Christensen, Haxan (The Witch, 1922). More than just an intriguing silent film, Haxan is an analysis on witchcraft’s role in European history as well as a critique of the treatment of female “hysterics” and the mentally ill. In Realizing the Witch, Baxstrom and Meyers consider this as they illustrate the cultural and historical importance of the film and how working together, they redefine the relationships between art and science, the occult and the everyday, and science and film. Weaving together psychology, anthropology, and witchcraft, Baxtrom and Meyers construct a fascinating read that you won’t want to miss. (296 pages, paper $29.95).
In Better Off Dead, edited by Deborah Christie and Sarah Juliet Lauro, “What has the zombie metaphor meant in the past? Why does it continue to be so prevalent in our culture?” are just two of the various questions Christie and Lauro seek to answer. Better Off Dead traces the supernatural figure of the zombie from its originiation in Haiti, its various cultural transformations over time, and potential post-humanist future directions. The underlying argument of the text focuses on the way zombies have evolved over time within cinema and literature, and also the way cinema and literature, among other narratives, have evolved as a result of zombies. (304 pages, paper, $35).
Ghost-Watching American Modernity by María del Pilar Blanco is primarily focused on revisiting nineteenth and twentieth century texts from Latin America and the United States and examining the ways in which different landscapes are represented as “haunted sites”. Blanco is interested in uncovering the significance of ghosts within particular local contexts, rather than the general or traditional way our society views them, such as a product of generic conventions or a mere allegory of hidden yearnings. In Ghost-Watching American Modernity, Blanco argues for ghost-watching as a means of rediscovering haunting on its own terms. (234 pages, cloth, $55)