Employing the Grotesque as a Communication Strategy: The History of an Artistic Style

Author: Choi, Myung
This work examines the presence of the grotesque in fiction, plastic arts, and films, to interpret the postmodern artistic phenomenon. The Reader’s Response Theory is utilized in order to examine the relevance of the grotesque to one of the most important factors of postmodernism: the reader.
The study analyzes the evolution of the grotesque and reveals different levels of grotesque imagery and its possible meanings in the works of three authors: Machado de Assis, Camilo José Cela, and Alejandra Pizarnik.


“Professor Choi shows how the extravagances and distortions of the Grotesque are hospitable either to agendas of social reformism or to the quite different spirit of postmodernist relativism with its rejection of determinate meanings and values. . . . Choi is to be congratulated for casting new light on an important area of artistic endeavor.”– Prof. David A. Flory, Purdue University

“This work is well documented and presents a comprehensive view of the role of the grotesque/horror in art, and specifically in literature, from classical forms to the postmodern. Her argument is convincing and lends a new voice to an area of study that is often limited in its focus of specific art forms or time periods. I believe this work will contribute to the study of lo grotesco and tremendismo in Spanish and Latin American literary study, by expanding the understanding of horror and its role in literature and art beyond specific time periods, or as being simply reactions to socio-historic phenomena of a particular era. This study can also be used outside of Hispanic literature, as it gives a broad sweep of the historic and artistic tendencies of the grotesque in its various forms, as well as examines the psychological elements of horror and our interpretation and response to it.” – Prof. Khamla Dhouti Martínez, California State University, San Bernardino

Table of Contents

Foreword by David A. Flory
Chapter 1: The Postmodem
Chapter 2: The Grotesque
Chapter 3: The Grotesque in Art
Chapter 4: Further Elaboration on the Grotesque
4.1 Fairy Tales
4.2 Horror Movies
4.3 Psychology of Horror
4.4 Elements of Horror
4.5 Anthropological Interpretation
Chapter 5: The Grotesque in the Postmodem
5.1 The Lure of the Grotesque: Scopophilia or Curiosity
5.2 The Grotesque through the Reader’s Theory
5.3 Evolution of the Grotesque in Three Fictions:
5.3.1 The Grotesque in Black and White: “A causa secreta”
5.3.2 The Realism of the Grotesque: Lafamilia de Pascual Duarte
5.3.3 The Bloody Grotesque: “La condesa sangrienta”
Conclusion: The Sanity of the Grotesque