The Living Dead: the Uncanny and Nineteenth-Century Moral Panic over Premature Burial

Natalia Wójcicka
The fear of premature burial during the nineteenth century escalated to a phenomenon of moral panic. Fueled by the imperfections of the cardiorespiratory standard of death, which allowed for mistakes in pronouncing a person dead, and by the feeling of the uncanny connected to doubts whether an object-a corpse-is animate or inanimate, the moral panic surfaced in a number of forms, including literature, journalism, but also science and legislation. The present study shows how these forms were
more » ... hese forms were both an effect of the panic and, simultaneously, a factor which served to uphold and shape it further.