The Forbidden Body: Sex, Horror, and the Religious Imagination

Category: Book
By (author): Cowan, Douglas E.
Subject:  LITERARY CRITICISM / Horror & Supernatural
  LITERARY CRITICISM / Subjects & Themes / Religion
  PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / General
  RELIGION / Religion, Politics & State
Audience: professional and scholarly
Publisher: NYU Press
Published: May 2022
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 328
Size: 9.00in x 6.00in x 1.00in
Our Price:
$ 39.95
In stock

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*

From creature features to indie horror flicks, find out what happens when sex, horror, and the religious imagination come together

Throughout history, religion has attempted to control nothing so much as our bodies: what they are and what they mean; what we do with them, with whom, and under what circumstances; how they may be displayed?or, more commonly, how they must be hidden. Yet, we remain fascinated, obsessed even, by bodies that have left, or been forced out of, their ?proper? place. The Forbidden Body examines how horror culture treats these bodies, exploring the dark spaces where sex and the sexual body come together with religious belief and tales of terror.

Taking a broad approach not limited to horror cinema or popular fiction, but embracing also literary horror, weird fiction, graphic storytelling, visual arts, and participative culture, Douglas E. Cowan explores how fears of bodies that are tainted, impure, or sexually deviant are made visible and reinforced through popular horror tropes. The volume challenges the reader to move beyond preconceived notions of religion in order to decipher the ?religious imagination? at play in the scary stories we tell over and over again.

Cowan argues that stories of religious bodies ?out of place? are so compelling because they force us to consider questions that religious belief cannot comfortably answer: Who are we? Where do we come from? Why do we suffer? And above all, do we matter? As illuminating as it is unsettling, The Forbidden Body offers a fascinating look at how and why we imagine bodies in all the wrong places.

Review Quote*

"Groundbreaking, disturbing, and riveting. Cowan recognizes that horror has a penchant for being at the same time scary and sexy, and that religion likewise has a unique ability to terrify in connection with restrictions on human sexuality. The intersections and even the simple comparability of these two human phenomena has not been explored by academics, much less explored adequately. Only Cowan could write this book, and write it so well."

Review Quote*

"Adds depth and texture to our understanding of horror?s relation to the body and religious imagination. This is a new area of inquiry in the world of religious studies and Cowan is at the forefront as a clear authority on the questions raised by horror, popular theology, and religious studies."

Biographical Note

Douglas E. Cowan is Professor of Religious Studies and Social Development Studies at Renison University College. Some of his previous books include Sacred Space: The Quest for Transcendence in Science Fiction Film and Television, Sacred Terror: Religion and Horror on the Silver Screen, and America?s Dark Theologian: The Religious Imagination of Stephen King.