Catherine Spooner’s Keynote Address

Dr Catherine Spooner shall be delivering the keynote address entitled:

Women in White: (Un)dressing the Gothic Heroine

Keynote abstract:

Edith’s elaborate white nightgowns in Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak (2015) deliberately position her in a long line of Gothic heroines. The white dress has become an iconic garment in Gothic cinema: from Miss Havisham’s wedding dress, to Rebecca’s ball gown, to the Bride of Frankenstein’s shroud, to the white nightgowns of Hammer’s female vampires. Embedding the white dress of Gothic cinema in the literary Gothic tradition and the history and theory of fashion, this paper will explore the multiple ways it signifies: as revolutionary undress, as symbol of conspicuous consumption, as spectral garment and as Gothic anachronism. It will argue that the white dress is simultaneously an over-determined garment and a blank page on which the story of the heroine’s body is told. As such, it is not only a reiteration of the past but offers the possibility of stories being written anew.

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