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It's my house, isn't it?: Memory, haunting and liminality in Stephen King's Bag of Bones

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Rich in its references to history and regionalism, Stephen King's Bag of Bones (1998) provides an in-depth study of how the personal and communal intertwine within the context of small-town Maine life. King uses the device of a haunted house, here in the form of a rural log cabin, to consider how the past lingers to inform and shape the present. This article argues that the house functions specifically as a liminal space; caught between past and present, the living and the dead, it provides a transitional area in which traumatic memories of racially motivated violence are relived and continually thrust back upon the community responsible. These ideas can be linked to gothic themes of past horror and the return of the repressed. My article thus considers how the classic gothic motif of haunting permits an exploration of the nature of memory and identity in the special kind of arena that liminality provides.

Keywords: Stephen King; gothic; haunting; liminality; memory; naming

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of American and Canadian Studies, University of Nottingham.

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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  • The European Journal of American Culture (EJAC) is an academic, refereed journal for scholars, academics and students from many disciplines with a common involvement in the interdisciplinary study of America and American culture, drawing on a variety of approaches and encompassing the whole evolution of the country.
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