Every month, Paul Chase in the Penn Press Journals department invites our blog readers to download a complimentary article from one of our many scholarly journals.
Paul's frightful pick for October is "Clowns on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: Dickens, Coulrophobia, and the Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi" by Andrew McConnell Stott, Professor of English and Director of the Honors College at University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. Stott considers why clowns appear so frequently in popular culture as frightening and psychopathic figures.
"For the purposes of sensationalism, at least, killer clowns are an incredibly efficient image. Lurid and overly emphatic though they may be, by placing the pleasures of laughter in close proximity to mortal threat, they embody a particularly tense and volatile contradiction. They are also a particularly modern phenomenon. Though reminiscent of the early modern jesters revelling in the dance of death, the killer clowns of the modern age possess an identity beyond their role that makes it clear that they are not universalized types but individuals in costume and makeup."
Stott's article appears in the Fall 2012 of the Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies.
Click here to download this free article and learn more about the official publication of the Group for Early Modern Cultural Studies.
Check the Penn Press Log in November for Paul's next pick.