Loving Monsters: Understanding American Identity through Horror Fiction Consumption

Vampires and werewolves are arguably the most iconic monsters in American fiction. Never has their presence been as ubiquitous. Not only is America embracing monsters but it seems to need  them in a way that surpasses mere entertainment value.

In her book chapter titled, Loving Monsters: Understanding Horror Fiction Consumption as a Response to the Uncertainty of American Identity,” Dr. Marylou Naumoff (assistant professor in SCM) considers the renewed American appetite for the genre as paradigmatic of the national subject’s need to process, manage, and confront uncertainty at a safe distance. Many of the more popular texts (True Blood, the Twilight saga, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, and the Underworld series) share many of the same themes.

Dr. Naumoff asserts that through reading vampire and werewolf fiction with an eye toward understanding the subjects they represent, it reveals some of the most significant representations and rearticulations of American identity. The horror genre provides a safe space to confront and work through fears and anxieties that other genres do not provide.

America is simultaneously resisting and embracing change, which not only accounts for the nuanced form monsters take but also for the state of transition and/or emergence of nuanced identities in the populace.

You can read more about “Loving Monsters” in Monsters and Monstrosity in 21st Century Film and Television (Universitas Press, 2017)