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What is the Uncanny?

Windsor, Mark (2019) What is the Uncanny? The British Journal of Aesthetics, 59 (1). pp. 51-65. ISSN 0007-0904. (doi:10.1093/aesthj/ayy028) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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I propose a definition of the uncanny: an anxious uncertainty about what is real caused by an apparent impossibility. First, I outline the relevance of the uncanny to art and aesthetics. Second, I disambiguate theoretical uses of ‘uncanny’ and establish the sense of the term that I am interested in—namely, an emotional state (a kind of anxiety) directed towards particular objects in the world which are characteristically eerie, creepy, and weird. Third, I look at Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ as a means of drawing out the conditions that I claim are essential to uncanny experiences, and then elaborate the terms of my proposed definition. Finally, I show how the definition accounts for two paradigmatic kinds of uncanny phenomena: cases of ‘uncanny resemblances’, which include twins, doppelgangers, and very lifelike representations of the human body; and unlikely coincidences of events.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1093/aesthj/ayy028
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of Arts
Faculties > Humanities > School of Arts > History and Philosophy of Art
Depositing User: M. Windsor
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2019 13:28 UTC
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2019 09:42 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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