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Evolutionary Study of Horror Literature

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Evolutionary horror study is an emerging research field that uses as its theoretical foundation the sciences of human nature. Evolutionary horror scholars claim that we can understand horror fiction as a cultural technology that works by tapping into ancient, defensive psychological mechanisms to satisfy an adaptive appetite for vicarious experience with threat scenarios. The genre elicits negative emotions ranging from disgust to terror, usually via the representation of fictional monsters that engage the evolved fear system by mimicking cues of threat. Immersion in a fictional world of horror is rewarding because it serves the adaptive functions of emotional, moral, and cognitive calibration. Although evolutionary horror study is growing in visibility and productivity, it is an emerging enterprise in need of much theoretical and interpretative work.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook to Horror Literature
EditorsKevin Corstorphine, Laura Kremmel
Number of pages8
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication year2018
ISBN (print)978-3-319-97405-7
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-97406-4
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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