Mid-century gothic

The uncanny objects of modernity in British literature and culture after the Second World War

By Lisa Mullen

Mid-century gothic


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-6025-6
  • Pages: 240
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £20.00
  • Published Date: September 2021
  • BIC Category: Gothic, LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 20th Century, LITERARY CRITICISM / Gothic & Romance, Other Graphic Art Forms, Literature, United Kingdom, Great Britain, Literary studies: c 1900 to c 2000, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: from c 1900 -


Mid-Century Gothic defines a distinct post-war literary and cultural moment in Britain, lasting ten years from 1945-55. This was a decade haunted by the trauma of fascism and war, but equally uneasy about the new norms of peacetime and the resurgence of commodity culture. As old assumptions about the primacy of the human subject became increasingly uneasy, culture answered with gothic narratives that reflected two troubling qualities of the new objects of modernity: their uncannily autonomous agency, and their disquieting intimacy with the reified human body.

The book offers fresh readings of novels, plays, essays and films of the period, unearthing neglected texts as well as reassessing canonical works. By bringing these into dialogue with the mid-century architecture, exhibitions and material culture, it provides a new perspective on a notoriously neglected historical moment and challenges previous accounts of the supposed timidity of post-war culture.


Introduction: 'The world of things': an introduction to mid-century gothic
Part I: Agency
1 Rubble, walls and murals: abstraction and materiality
2 Seeing things: found objects and the eye of the beholder
3 Machines and spectrality: the gothic potential of technology
Part II: Intimacy
4 Neophilia and nostalgia: the trouble with gentrification
5 Strange beauty: Costume, performance and power in the New Elizabethan age
6 Bombs, Prosthetics and Madness: Incorporating the Intimacy of Things
Conclusion: Beyond the mid-century


Lisa Mullen is a Teaching Associate in Modern and Contemporary Literature at the University of Cambridge

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