Bloody Penny Picture Pose : A comparative study on the representation of sexuality and violence within the aesthetics of Victorian Gothic horror

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Stockholms universitet/Modevetenskap

Sammanfattning: There is an ongoing fascination with the Victorian era as well as the genre of horror, and the characters originating from the first 18th century Gothic tales still appear in our Western popular culture today. The Victorian Gothic novels contain elements of romanticism and violence which often results in strong undertones of heated sexuality. I argue that it is one of the reasons for the genre’s wide popularity. This thesis examines the representation of femininity and female sexuality within a Victorian horror context by a comparative analyse of illustrations from British 19th century Penny Blood publications with contemporary fashion photographs. The images are analysed by applying Erwin Panofsky’s method of Iconography and with the theoretical framework of feminist visual culture, and historical theories on sexuality, biology and violence. The thesis shows how Gothic visualisations are interpreted and appropriated photographically today, where the latter is darker and more exaggerated than the former. Symbols of sexuality, female agency, dominance and submission are equally found in the Victorian and the contemporary material. However, the Victorian aesthetic has become a platform where a nude, sexual female body in a S&M situation can offer a spectrum of meanings and even symbols of feminism. It is a visual culture where women can fight back, taking revenge on their oppressor and looking fierce when doing so. 

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