Croft, Quinn (2020) Phantasms of the Modern Age: Rewriting the ghost story for the 21st century. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This is a submission of three ghost stories. For as long as I can remember I have been drawn to stories of the supernatural and, as I matured as both a reader and as a writer, this attraction to supernatural fiction only got stronger. I discovered writers from the gothic revival of the late Victorian era and the early twentieth century as well as more contemporary authors of supernatural fiction such as Stephen King, Clive Barker, Susan Hill, and Shirley Jackson. I do not appear to be alone in this fascination with the supernatural. M.R. James, one of the most influential writers of supernatural fiction in the twentieth century, opened his essay ‘Ghost Storie s’ ( p. 245) with the statement that “I think, has an innate love of the supernatural” and I find it difficult to disagree with him on this topic. Even in some of the earliest surviving literary texts, such as The Epic of Gilgamesh from around 1700B.C.E. one can find examples of the supernatural, a descent int o the underworld, prophetic dreams, and ghosts and monsters of various sorts”. (2014, p. 17) Even if one is to look outside of literature, the supernatural is still extremely prevalent within popular culture. In cinema, The Conjuring franchise of horror movies, which began in 2013, has grossed over 1. 5 billion dollars across five entries with further entries in the franchise in various stages of development demonstrates that supernatural horror fiction is not irrelevant to a modern audience. (Box Office Mojo, 2020)

When deciding upon what type of stories to produce for my Masters by Research I kept coming back to the stories of M.R. James in p articular alongside other writers of ghost stories such as Charles Dickens, Walter de la Mare, Sheridan Le Fanu E.F. Benson and more contemporary writers such as the aforementioned Susan Hill and Clive Barker I noticed that, for the most part the popular ghost story appeared to be struggling to move away from the mode established by Dickens and Le Fanu and perfected by James in the early decades of the twentieth century. These stories often fall into the epical mode, with the withholding of information to the reader being a major factor in the building of a sense of suspense and jeopardy, with the final reve ation, often of the supernatural nature of the issue, acting to both relieve the tension created earlier in the story but to also leaves the reader with a sense of unease.

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