Our monsters, ourselves: Desire, death and deviance in the Gothic narratives and how they in-form an inquiry of currere


  • Shelby Janicki Towson University


currere, ficto-currere, speculative fiction, autoethnography, horror, identity


This paper explores the idea that the creation of the monsters’ existence at the hands of Gothic authors, such as Mary Shelley, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Brahm Stoker, serves as fictionalized examples of the inquiry of currere (or “ficto-currere” [McDermott, 2019]), and the exploration of “possibility.” Mary Shelley, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Bram Stoker’s social and personal life experiences have evidently influenced their writings. This auto-ethnographic element of their stories, this self-examination and incorporation of their life experiences, becomes their currere. Through this lens of currere, their stories can tell us a lot about controversial topics that were too taboo to straightforwardly address during the 1800s, when they were written—topics such as mental and physical illnesses or queering sexual identity. The author suggests that this depends not on being rationalized, but on being “poeticized,” as happens through the three examples of speculative fiction examined here. The author extends the dread and desire of the monstrous “afflicted” identities of these authors within their historical contexts toward curriculum. The monstrosity of the desires and the dread for each of the gothic authors examined in this paper is considered from the perspective of currere-as-inquiry.