The hygienic self
Gender in the Gothic
in Gothic writing 1750–1820
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This chapter deals directly with the discursive, with aesthetic discourses where the issue of gender is acutely present. In elaborating the discursive structures that encode gender within the Gothic, the chapter assumes that there is a sufficient congruence between sex and gender as to warrant the terms 'male' and 'female' Gothic. Genius, novelty, the sublime, the visual and reverie all offer points of theoretical concentration, where the hygienic self bunches into discursive thickness, forming Gothic texture. At the centre of the hygienic self lies associationism with its normative patterns of mental behaviour. But in most Gothic writing the negations of the hygienic self are not, simply, outrageously permitted; rather they occur in the context of their systematic antitheses. In Gothic writing, the patterning that promises meaning, reveals meaning of a psychological, or uncanny, kind. The Gothic aesthetic internalized the tenets of ideal presence as its pedagogic defence.

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