Historicizing the Gothic
in Gothic writing 1750–1820
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Historicizing Gothic writing implies a narrative of descent, of change over time. Michel Foucault's theory of discourse will enable the readers to gain an historical purchase on Gothic writing. There are two related ways in which circularity arises to balk the theorist. First, he or she may find that their theory is predicated on the very 'gap' they seek to historicize. Marxist, feminist and psychoanalytical readings are particularly vulnerable here in that they read the repression on which their theories are based back into Gothic texts, thus closing the hermeneutic circle. Foucault instructs us to see the atavistic as circumscribed within the discursive practices of the new. In both Madness and Civilization and The History of Sexuality the specificity of the Gothic moment arises from the clash of incommensurate 'archives'.

Editor: Robert Miles

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