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This is the first full-length study of Gothic to be written from the perspective of Bakhtinian theory. Dr Howard uses Bakhtin's concepts of heteroglossia and dialogism in specific historical analyses of key works of the genre. Her discussions of Ann Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho, Matthew Lewis's The Monk, Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein demonstrate that the discursive ambiguity of these novels is not inherently subversive, but that the political force of particular discourses is contingent upon their interaction with other discourses in the reading process. This position enables the author to intervene in feminist discussions of Gothic, which have claimed it as a specifically female genre. Dr Howard suggests a way in which feminists can appropriate Bakhtin to make politically effective readings, while acknowledging that these readings do not exhaust the novels' possibilities of meaning and reception. Drawing on the most up-to-date debates in literary theory, this is a sophisticated and scholarly analysis of a genre that has consistently challenged literary criticism.