Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Medieval Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Eve Salisbury

Second Advisor

Dr. Casey McKittrick

Third Advisor

Dr. Richard Utz

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only


The classification of medieval texts into certain genres continues to be a highly controversial and much debated topic among literary critics. This thesis addresses that debate and argues for the existence of a medieval horror genre, a genre that, I believe, provides us with a better understanding of both canonical and non-canonical texts. The focus of this study is three-fold: the first entails a linguistic examination of Latin etymologies of the words"horror" and "woman"; the second looks closely at several key "horrifying" scenes in late medieval literature; the third consists of a case study of a modern horror film, Eli Roth's Hostel (2002). By isolating these scenes and examining such actions and the surrounding language and imagery used to describe them, I hope to make a case for the existence of a genre of horror located in interactions (and anxieties) between men and women, particularly in relation to reproduction and male/female bodies. While modern and medieval horror differ in significant ways, I plan to show how intimately related the two are, twisted together in an ongoing battle for female anatomy versus male dominance and cultural subversion, the unknown versus the known. The visceral, daily, and invisible war fought between daughter and father, wife and husband, daughter and mother, and sister and brother, and sister and sister for bodily control.

Off-campus Download