Gender, Supernatural Beings, and the Liminality of Death: Monstrous Males/Fatal Females examines representations of the supernatural dead to demonstrate shifts in the manifestation of gender. Including readings of East Asian detectives/cyborgs, Iranian vampires, and African zombies, among others, This collection offers a multi-faceted look at myth, legend, and popular culture representations of the gendered supernatural from a broad range of international contexts. The contributors show that, as creatures pass through the liminal space of death, their new supernatural forms challenge cultural conceptions of gender, masculinity, and femininity.
Rebecca Gibson is adjunct professor in the department of sociology and anthropology at Indiana University South Bend and the department of anthropology at American University.
James M. VanderVeen is an archaeologist and professor of anthropology at Indiana University South Bend.
Table of Contents
Section One: Introduction
Chapter 1: Transformation and Liminal Space within Fiction and Folklore
Section Two: Social Death/Cyborg Transformation
Chapter 2: Vengeful Monsters, Shapeshifting Cyborgs, and Alien Spider Queens: The Monstrous-Feminine in Netflix’s Love, Death & Robots
Chapter 3: “We’re All, In the End, Part of the Same Great Thing”: Gender, Death, and Memory in Aliette de Bodard’s The Tea Master and the Detective
Chapter 4: “The House Wants Me to Stay”: Mothers, Wives and Sex Objects in the Haunted House Subgenre
Section Three: Between Life and Death
Chapter 5: To Slay or Not to Slay: Gender, Liminality, and Choice in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Chapter 6: Fear Itself: The Vampire as Moral Panic
Chapter 7: Gay Bloodsucker or Post-Soviet Buzzkill? Vampiric Possibilities in Sektor Gaza
Chapter 8: From Femme Fatale to Fatal Female: Vampiric Power as Coded Female in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and Only Lovers Left Alive
Section Four: Reanimation with Sentience
Chapter 9: Masculinity, and Not Femininity, As Gendered “Nature” in Cinematic Adaptations of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Devi Snively and Agustín Fuentes
Chapter 10: The Animated Dead: Reimagining the Beautiful Corpse in Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
Chapter 11: Sexual Encounters Between the Living and the (Un)dead in Popular Culture
Matt Coward-Gibbs and Bethan Michael-Fox
Section Five: Reanimation without Sentience
Chapter 12: Behind the Door: Sukuma Mitunga (Zombie) Narratives as Social Critique in Northwestern Tanzania
Chapter 13: Does Death Destroy the Binary? A Look at Gender Roles During Human/Zombie Interaction in the World War Z Universe
Rebecca Gibson and James M. VanderVeen
Afterlife and Afterword
James M. VanderVeen
This is an engaging, accessible, and thought-provoking investigation of monstrosity in literature, film, and TV. Ranging from Frankenstein to Star Trek, this collection brings narrative anthropology into conversation with a broad range of gothic and science fiction texts, exploring the gendered aspects of the dead, the undead, haunted spaces, and human-machine hybridity. Admirably showcasing the work of early-career researchers in the growing field of supernatural studies, this book is a rich resource for anyone seeking to delve into the macabre world of zombies, vampires, and cyborgs.
In an age where science and religion seem to butt heads constantly, the supernatural weaves a curious thread through our cultural and personal practices, narratives, and experiences. This collection hinges on the eternally engaging theme of transformation: what does it mean for a human to become something more, something else? Are the monsters of our deepest nightmares still human? What does this mean for us? And as the introduction reminds us, these transformations are not always planned, permanent, or positive. This book knits these threads together and asks us to consider anew the tropes and figures that we know well. It is an engaging, well-structured collection that offers further insights into a narrative world that, more than ever, speaks to our contemporary experiences and cultural fears.