Men with stakes

Masculinity and the gothic in US television

By Julia Wright

Men with stakes


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9770-6
  • Pages: 200
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: January 2016
  • BIC Category: Romanticism, Film and Media, Television, Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers, Gothic, Film history, theory & criticism, LITERARY CRITICISM / Gothic & Romance, PERFORMING ARTS / Television / History & Criticism, The arts / Film theory & criticism


Men with stakes builds on recent discussions of television Gothic by examining the ways in which the Gothic mode is deployed specifically to call into question televisual realism and, with it, conventional depictions of masculinity. Released from the mandate of realism to describe the world as it is supposed to be, television Gothic calls attention to the constructedness of gender - and therefore to the possibility of re-imagining men's agency, authority and the legitimated forms of knowledge with which men are traditionally associated (science in particular). In this context, after an overview of Gothic television's larger history, this study discusses in some depth seven series from the last two decades: American Gothic, Millennium, Angel, Carnivàle, Point Pleasant, Supernatural and American Horror Story.


'For fans and scholars of the series like Supernatural. the book is a delightful exploration into one aspect of what makes these series so resonant.'
Bridget Kies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, January 2018

'Men with Stakes is not always about masculinity per se. Chapter four deals with American Gothic television's subversion of Enlightenment concepts such as science and progress and its postmodern blurring of the line between the 'world of signs'-including the televisual medium-and the 'world of the "real"' (p. 124). However, as Wright indicates, many of these dynamics can be understood in gendered terms; she makes an especially fascinating contention that the first season of American Horror Story (2011- present) represents the film and television industry 'as a conventional [patriarchal] gothic villain' (p. 150). Hence, even when Men with Stakes apparently strays from its theme, Wright is in fact adding weight to her central argument that Gothic TV's 'interrogation of masculinity is intertwined with larger examinations of social institutions, cultural assumptions, and established forms of knowledge' (p. 5).'
Eve Bennett, Universite´ Sorbonne Nouvelle, France, Critical Studies in Television: The International Journal of Television Studies


1. Bedevilling paternal discipline: fathers from American Gothic to Point Pleasant
2. Looking for daddy: Carnivàle, Supernatural and Millennium
3. Latchkey hero: the horrors of class in Eric Kripke's Supernatural
4. Gothic foundations: "The Pest House," "Hell House," and "The Murder House"
Conclusion: gothic conspiracy and the eyes of Lara Means
Episodes discussed in detail


Julia M. Wright is Professor in the Department of English at Dalhousie University

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