This chapter argues that Michael Jackson's movement, his style as a dancer, repeatedly engages with issues of the temporal both in the stories his dances tell and in the choreographic gestures that embody those stories. Indeed, Jackson's dance in Thriller is a Gothic funk, in all senses of that word. When a rapping Vincent Price tells that the mis-en-scene is shrouded in 'the funk of forty thousand years', he encapsulates in a phrase Jackson's queer performance of time. It is difficult to imagine a less likely candidate for the critique of reproductive futurism than Ghosts, Michael Jackson's epic video responding to the first set of child-molestation charges and the public frenzy that ensued. The chapter also argues that the choreography of Thriller capitalises upon a parallel between the vertical and horizontal movement axes and the orientation toward spiritual or ghostly ethereality and grave-oriented, earthy embodiment.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book demonstrates that incest was representative of a range of interests crucial to writers of the Gothic, often women or homosexual men who adopted a critical stance in relation to the heteronormative patriarchal world. Incest, a sexual act associated with transgression, violations of power and violence, has readily been conflated with sexual violence in Gothic scholarship and consigned to one of two gendered plots. Sexuality, questions of ownership, inheritance, women's subjugation to male authority, laws of coverture and primogeniture and issues concerning gender roles pervade Gothic works from the mid-eighteenth century on. The incest thematic as employed by women writers in the early modern period is shown to be transgressively endogamic in Maureen Quilligan's excellent work on incest in Elizabethan England.
There are several problems that usually emerge in scholarship examining representations of father-daughter incest in the Gothic, even in works by scholars whose goal is to lay bare the feminist themes that are central to the genre. Principal among these is that representations of father-daughter incest often cause works to be placed in the gendered subgenre of Female Gothic and to be viewed through a lens predicated on this generic division. This chapter examines the incestuous relationships between fathers and daughters in Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, Ann Radcliffe's The Romance of the Forest and Mary Shelley's Matilda and the texts' attendant scholarship. These three works have been selected in order to compare the way that incest is rendered in a representative chronology of Gothic texts beginning with what has been traditionally defined as the original Gothic novel.