Monstrous Things

Essays on Ghosts, Vampires, and Things That Go Bump in the Night


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About the Book

An indispensable resource for students and researchers of paranormal myth and media, this book explores the undead and unholy in literature, film, television, and popular culture. Following an introduction to frightful manifestations in media, sections address ghosts, vampires, and monsters individually, and each section includes a broad consideration of the ghost, vampire or monster in American culture. The section dedicated to ghosts examines the “spectral turn” of popular culture and the ghost’s relation to justice and mourning, with particular attention to Toni Morrison and Herman Melville. In the vampires section, the author considers the undead bloodsucker’s relationship to anti–Semitism, suicide, and cinema. The third section discusses monsters in relation to topics such as global pandemics, terrorism, mass shootings, “stranger danger,” and social otherness, with attention to a range of popular culture texts including the films IT and It Follows.

About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock is a professor of English at Central Michigan University and an associate book review editor with the Los Angeles Review of Books. He has published 28 books and more than 100 essays and book chapters on horror, fantasy, science fiction, and American literature and culture. Visit him at

Bibliographic Details

Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 243
Bibliographic Info: 14 photos, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8829-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4784-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction: Monstrous Musings 1

Act I: Ghosts 7
The American Ghost Story 9
Introduction: The Spectral Turn 23
Doing Justice to Bartleby 30
Ten Minutes for Seven Letters: Reading Beloved’s Epitaph 50

Act II: Vampires 71
American Vampires 73
The Vampire Cinema 91
Circumcising Dracula 107
Vampire Suicide 120

Act III: Monsters 139
American Monsters 141
Introduction: A Genealogy of Monster Theory 157
Invisible Monsters: Vision, Horror, and Contemporary Culture 189
What Is IT? Ambient Dread and Modern Paranoia in It (2017), It Follows (2014), and It Comes at Night (2017) 206

Index 225

Book Reviews & Awards

“Detailed and fascinating… Scholars new to these specific areas of literary or cinematic history would find it invaluable… Provides a thoughtful and well-researched history that makes for an excellent foundational text in the literary horror space.”—Journal of Popular Culture