‘The Great Scarecrow In Days Long Ago’: Gothic Myths and Family Festivals


Scarecrows were once a familiar sight in the countryside, standing in fields of growing crops to discourage unwanted wildlife. Changes in agricultural production meant these figures were replaced with more efficient devices. Scarecrows, however, have made a comeback. They have been absorbed into the symbolism of gothic and horror literature, and more recently have become symbols of our changing attitudes to Nature and to community as embodied in the countryside and its way of life. Their potential to embody such a disparate range of meanings is due to a combination of factors, and their changing function of the scarecrow is expressed in new ways creating modern craft festivals and, more problematic, an increasing range of anthropomorphic and gothic figures in literature and popular culture.


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© Juliette Wood