Bodies Out of Place: Poe, Premature Burial, and The Uncanny

  • Carl H. Sederholm Brigham Young University


“Bodies Out of Place” discusses some of the ways Edgar Allan Poe confronted the taboos or boundaries associated with dying bodies. In tales such as “The Premature Burial,” “Ligeia,” and “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” Poe blurred the boundaries between life and death not only to show how strange they are but also to suggest how little human beings understand about the problem of death. Poe complicates this matter by suggesting that, even though some bodies may show all appearances of death, they remain very much alive. Even more frightening, Poe also suggests that some dead bodies may even somehow force their way back to life. Ultimately, Poe’s bodies resist easy classification because they are neither completely alive nor completely dead. 

Author Biography

Carl H. Sederholm, Brigham Young University

Carl H. Sederholm is Professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities and chair of the Department of Comparative Arts and Letters at Brigham Young University. He is the co-editor of The Age of Lovecraft, co-editor of Adapting Poe, and co-author of Poe, the “House of Usher,” and the American Gothic. He is also the author of multiple essays on authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and others. 

“Saturn Devouring His Son,” Francisco Goya, c. 1819-1823
How to Cite
Sederholm, Carl H. 2017. “Bodies Out of Place: Poe, Premature Burial, and The Uncanny”. FORUM: University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Journal of Culture & The Arts, no. 24 (May).
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