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‘Tell me, what are you becoming?’ Hannibal and the inescapable presence of the grotesque

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Aesthetics philosopher Noël Carroll affirms that grotesque forms ‘are all violations of our standing categories or concepts; they are subversions of our common expectations of the natural and ontological order’. In breaking structural boundaries, consequently, the grotesque appears as deformations, aberrations, exaggerations, metamorphosis or startling portmanteaus. Given both its nightmarish texture and the evil ingenuity of Dr Lecter’s murders, Hannibal (NBC, 2013‐15) ploughs fertile ground in putting together conceptually distant and even contradictory elements. Hence, this article explores how the aesthetic and philosophical principles of the grotesque are a pervasive presence throughout the entire Hannibal TV series, defining its style, characters’ personality and metaphorical themes. Putting art theory in dialogue with the Hannibal televised text, this article demonstrates how the grotesque ‐ one of the key concepts in Gothic horror ‐ permeates every level of the show, from the opening credits to the protagonist’s inner transformation, converting the narrative into a comprehensive and cohesive liminal artistic ecosystem.
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Keywords: Hannibal; aesthetics; gothic horror; grotesque; television studies; tv-series

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000419370271University of Navarra

Publication date: April 1, 2020

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  • Horror Studies intends to serve the international academic community in the humanities and specifically those scholars interested in horror. Exclusively examining horror, this journal will provide interested professionals with an opportunity to read outstanding scholarship from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including work conceived as interdisciplinary. By expanding the conversation to include specialists concerned with diverse historical periods, varied geography, and a wide variety of expressive media, this journal will inform and stimulate anyone interested in a wider and deeper understanding of horror
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