'Ah, you lose you in there': Gothic Masculinities, Specters of Vietnam and Becoming Monstrous in Southern Comfort

Donnar, G 2015, ''Ah, you lose you in there': Gothic Masculinities, Specters of Vietnam and Becoming Monstrous in Southern Comfort' in Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet, Steffen Hantke (ed.) War Gothic in Literature and Culture, Routledge, New York, United States, pp. 136-153.


Document type: Book Chapter
Collection: Book Chapters

Title 'Ah, you lose you in there': Gothic Masculinities, Specters of Vietnam and Becoming Monstrous in Southern Comfort
Author(s) Donnar, G
Year 2015
Title of book War Gothic in Literature and Culture
Publisher Routledge
Place of publication New York, United States
Editor(s) Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet, Steffen Hantke
Start page 136
End page 153
Subjects Cinema Studies
Culture, Gender, Sexuality
Summary This chapter explores the deleterious impacts of Vietnam War-related combat experiences on besieged American masculinities across gothicized landscapes in the Rural Gothic horror. Southern Comfort (Hill, 1981) allegorizes and domesticates America's experience of the foreign battlefield to detail the breakdown of institutional authority and a collective descent into madness. In the film, Louisiana National Guard swampland exercises swiftly become horrific after a motley troop of ill-suited and reluctant guardsmen, already riven by class and racial conflicts, willfully transgresses against the local Cajun swampland inhabitants. The film dredges up historical national (and male) traumas implicitly associated with America's original dispossession of Native Americans and the recent specter of Vietnam through the breaching of a domestic Other's space. Southern Comfort also reconfigures gothic tropes - the swamplands by turns beguiling and dream-like, yet strange, malevolent and impenetrable - to convey how the otherworldly battlefield manifests and reflects the National Guardsmen's evermore-deranged psychological states. Their disorienting combat encounters with a 'primitive' Cajun enemy and violent return of repressed (national) traumas makes the Guardsmen monstrous and reveals inherent American national, institutional and masculine monstrosity.
Copyright notice © 2016 Taylor and Francis
ISBN 9781138938212
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