Navarette, Susan J. 1960-

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Navarette, Susan J. 1960-


Born 1960. Education: Brown University, B.A.; University of Michigan, M.A., 1984, Ph.D., 1989.


Office—Department of English and Comparative Literature, University of North Carolina, Greenlaw Hall, CB #3520, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3520.


University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, associate professor of English, 1989—. NEH visiting professor, Hartwick College, Oneonta, NY, 2000-01.


The Shape of Fear: Horror and the Fin de Siècle Culture of Decadence, University Press of Kentucky (Lexington, KY), 1998.


In The Shape of Fear: Horror and the Fin de Siècle Culture of Decadence, University of North Carolina English professor Susan J. Navarette examines the ways in which Victorian literature reflected the anxieties of the late nineteenth century. The book, she explained on the University of North Carolina faculty Web site, explores "late nineteenth-century mentality by examining horror in relation to degenerative prophecies of Victorian science." Having had their complacent world-view shaken by scientific revelations such as Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection—which shook the roots of western faith and culture—Victorians agonized over the meaning of genius and the act of creation in a universe run by uncaring nature rather than a benevolent god.

Navarette argues that the language, as well as the themes, used by writers of horror fiction at the end of the nineteenth century reflected this preoccupation. The care Victorian horror writers took, laboring over the words they used in their stories, reflects the pathological intensity shown by, say, the Time Traveler in H.G. Wells's The Time Machine in breaking the laws of nature. In "works such as Heart of Darkness and The Turn of the Screw, the prose style is self-consciously ‘strange,’ and highly experimental," stated Julia Bryan in Endeavors Magazine. "Navarette says, ‘These writers sought less to write about anxiety than to generate it in the reader through their highly charged, elaborately constructed prose style.’" "Ultimately," wrote Claudia Nelson in Victorian Studies, "the subject of The Shape of Fear is not horror's cultural context, as represented by science, but its creators' prose style."



Victorian Studies, autumn, 2000, Claudia Nelson, review of The Shape of Fear: Horror and the Fin de Siècle Culture of Decadence, p. 105.


Endeavors Magazine, (March 6, 2007), Julia Bryan, "Horror's Story."

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Web site, (March 5, 2007), author biography.