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Gothic Feminism: A Reading List

The madwomen are coming out of the attic and the witches are among us—we ignore them at our peril. Happy Halloween reading from Verso!

Verso Books13 October 2022

The Love Witch, dir. Anna Biller (2017)

Gothic writing is about the return of the repressed, the emergence of the uncanny, the haunting of those who have been wronged. The horror of the gothic novel is not from the monsters themselves—the witches and madwomen, the ghostly specters and raging Furies—but from the reckoning of injustice being, finally, at hand.

It is no surprise that this has long been a feminist genre, for women have been closeted and repressed, silenced and forced into attics both real and metaphorical. The explosion of women’s rage in the eighteenth century was given voice by Mary Wollstonecraft in A Vindication of the Rights of Women; tellingly, her daughter become one of the most famous gothic novelists of all: Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.

With today’s cresting wave of feminist rage and feminist desire, the gothic banshee is back, and she is writing. The madwomen are coming out of the attic and the witches are among us—we ignore them at our peril. Happy Halloween reading from Verso!

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A cat and mouse game of surveillance and psychological torment develops between a middle aged artist and her aging mother.

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A jarringly sensual book about the peculiarities of our bodies and the impossibilities of our families, and a young woman trying to find a way forward with both.

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In these darkly playful and punky stories, the fantastical elements are always grounded in the universal pettiness of strife between the sexes, and the gritty reality of life on the lower rungs, whatever planet that ladder might be on.

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“The internet is all about girls—and is an impossible place to be one. Girl Online writes its way through that dilemma with critical insight and creative moxie. It’s a really good book for anyone who has ever tried to have a gender—especially on the internet.” – McKenzie Wark, author of Capital is Dead

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The incendiary French feminist work that defined ecofeminism—now available for the first time in English. As d’Eaubonne prophesied, “The planet placed in the feminine will flourish for all.”

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A manifesto for cyberfeminism: finding liberation in the glitch between body, gender, and technology.

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Burn It Down! is a testament to what is possible when women are driven to the edge — including The Manifesto of Apocalyptic Witchcraft by Peter Grey.

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Debut novel from critically acclaimed artist and musician Jenny Hval presents a heady and hyper-sensual portrayal of sexual awakening and queer desire.

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A provocative and lyrical exploration of trauma and memory, from one of Norway’s most famed and provocative novelists. Longlisted for the National Book Award!

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“Everyone is female, and everyone hates it.” Andrea Long Chu’s genre-defying investigation into sex and lies, desperate artists and reckless politics, the smothering embrace of gender and the punishing force of desire.

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Brilliant, insane, violent, prescient—Valerie Solanas’s 1968 manifesto announcing the formation of the Society for Cutting Up Men.

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Mary Wollstonecraft’s foundational text from 1790, an elegant and impassioned argument for women’s education.

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Silvia Federici wrote: “Revolting Prostitutes is a book I have been waiting for.” What more could you possibly need to know?!

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 A pocket colour manifesto for a new futuristic feminism.

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Reviewing the large, disparate, and often contradictory western discourse on gender and sexuality of the Other.

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An international bestseller, originally published in 1970, when Shulamith Firestone was just twenty-five years old, The Dialectic of Sex was the first book of the women’s liberation movement to put forth a feminist theory of politics. 



Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination, by Avery F. Gordon

This book cracked our editor’s mind wide open, in terms of its subject—haunting and history—and its example of how evocative and experimental a work of scholarship can be.

White is for Witching, by Helen Oyeyemi

A haunted house, a mysterious set of twins, a meditation on race and belonging in contemporary Britain, and an elegant lyrical tale.

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, by Angela Carter

Dark and sensual, haunting and violent fairy tales from this master of the supernatural – and icon of the 1960s women’s liberation movement.

K-Punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher, by Mark Fisher

Stop whatever you’re doing and go read the essays on goth couture, golgothic materialism, and horror stories immediately.

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë

Meet Bertha Mason, the original madwoman in the attic and symbol of all the trauma of British colonialism; meet Jane Eyre, the most clear-eyed and fierce narrator ever penned.

Witches, Midwives, and Nurses, by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English

A pamphlet written in a blaze of anger during the women’s liberation movement in 1973, this was the first book to argue that women healers had been demonized and that the witch-hunt was a regime of terror launched against women challenging patriarchal institutions, economies, and laws.

Fledgling, by Octavia Butler

A vampire tale, an allegory of race and otherness, and a novel about survival from the late, brave, and brilliant Octavia Butler.

Is Mother Dead

Is Mother Dead

**Longlisted for The International Booker Prize 2023**'To mother is to murder, or close enough', thinks Johanna, as she looks at the spelling of the two words in Norwegian. She's recently widowed a...
I Fear My Pain Interests You
Margot is the child of renowned musicians and the product of a particularly punky upbringing. Burnt-out from the burden of expectation and the bad end of the worst relationship yet, she leaves New ...
Terminal Boredom

Terminal Boredom

On a planet where men are contained in ghettoised isolation, women enjoy the fruits of a queer matriarchal utopia -- until a boy escapes and a young woman's perception of the world is violently int...
Girl Online
The unwritten contract of the internet, that a user is what is used, extends from the well-examined issue of data privacy and consent to the very selves women are encouraged to create in order to a...
Feminism or Death

Feminism or Death

Originally published in French in 1974, radical feminist Francoise d’Eaubonne surveyed women’s status around the globe and argued that the stakes of feminist struggle was not about equality but abo...
Glitch Feminism
The divide between the digital and the real world no longer exists: we are connected all the time. How do we find out who we are within this digital era? Where do we create the space to explore our...
Burn It Down!
In this landmark collection spanning three centuries and four waves of feminist activism and writing, Burn It Down! is a testament to what is possible when women are driven to the edge. The manifes...
Paradise Rot

Paradise Rot

Jo is in a strange new country for university and having a more peculiar time than most. In a house with no walls, shared with a woman who has no boundaries, she finds her strange home coming to li...
Will and Testament
Longlisted for The Millions Best Translated Book Awards for FictionLonglisted for the National Book Award for Translated LiteratureFour siblings. Two summer houses. One terrible secret. When a disp...
“Everyone is female, and everyone hates it.”So begins Andrea Long Chu’s genre-defying investigation into sex and lies, desperate artists and reckless politics, the smothering embrace of gender and ...
SCUM Manifesto
“Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the...
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
Composed in 1790, Mary Wollstonecraft’s seminal feminist tract A Vindication of the Rights of Woman broke new ground in its demand for women’s education. A Vindication remains one of history’s most...
Revolting Prostitutes
How the law harms sex workers - and what they want insteadDo you have to endorse prostitution in order to support sex worker rights? Should clients be criminalized, and can the police deliver justi...
The Xenofeminist Manifesto
The Xenofeminist Manifesto is an attempt to articulate a feminism fit for the twenty-first century. Unafraid of exploring the potentials of technology, exploring both oppressive and emancipatory po...
The Erotic Margin
Gender and sexuality have long held an important place in western attitudes towards the people and regions of the world—from the titillating accounts of harem life in the Middle East to terrifying ...
The Dialectic of Sex
An international bestseller, originally published in 1970, when Shulamith Firestone was just twenty-five years old, The Dialectic of Sex was the first book of the women’s liberation movement to put...