Anxious About a Changing World: Twenty-First Century Low Countries Gothic Novels

Jesse van Amelsvoort*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

112 Downloads (Pure)


As the representation of Western modernity’s dark undercurrent, the Gothic novel has since its inception in the 1760s developed and transformed alongside that modernity. This paper looks at two contemporary Gothic novels from the Low Countries, Herman Franke’s Wolfstonen (2003) and Saskia de Coster’s Wat alleen wij horen (2015), which are occupied with contemporary globalisation and immigration to the Netherlands and Belgium. Both novels cast the apartment buildings that are central to their plots as Gothic spaces fraught with images of modern, globalised society, as well as widespread anxiety over societal cohesion in ethnically and culturally diverse cities. An interdisciplinary reading constituted by gothic and postcolonial reading practices brings to the fore new elements of the Dutch and Flemish cultural imaginary. It reveals the continuous renewal of the gothic itself, but also into the changes brought to the Low Countries as a result of globalisation and immigration. These have their effect on the construction of community, a process that is articulated in both the form and the content of the novels’ narratives. Ultimately, I argue, the gothic is put to work in these novels as a way of dealing with the anxieties about and uncertainties of a postcolonial world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-117
Number of pages16
JournalDutch Crossing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6-Feb-2020

Cite this