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Scientific experimentation in George MacDonald’s ‘The History of Photogen and Nycteris’
Rebecca Langworthy

This chapter examines the implications of theories of Darwinism and degeneration on concepts of child rearing. These theories and concepts are explored in relation to George MacDonald’s short fantasy tale ‘The History of Photogen and Nycteris’. The chapter argues that the tale functions as a conceptual space through which to explore the ramifications of degeneration and evolution as MacDonald understood them. This is achieved by focusing on the child-rearing practices used on two children, Photogen and Nycteris, who are placed within engineered environments to influence their development. The tension between scientific expectations of the children’s behaviours, and their actual behaviour as they engage with the world using their imaginations, provides a basis from which MacDonald critiques scientific approaches to child-rearing.

in In the company of wolves
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From preternatural pastoral to paranormal romance
Sam George and Bill Hughes
in In the company of wolves
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Maria Holmgren Troy, Johan Höglund, Yvonne Leffler, and Sofia Wijkmark

This chapter introduces and defines the concept of ‘Nordic Gothic’ as fiction produced in the five nation states of Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, and in the regions claimed by these nations. The chapter observes that the geographical and linguistic borders that these states denote have changed greatly during the past 200 years, and that this has been important to the rise of Gothic. The introduction furthermore notes that, since the 1990s, there has been a significant Gothic boom across several media in the Nordic region. It is argued that this boom needs to be understood both in its relation to other regional contexts and in relation to the concept of Nordic Noir. Finally, the introduction describes some of the work that has been done on Nordic Gothic and provides the reader with an outline of the chapters that follow.

in Nordic Gothic
Nordic Gothic and transcultural adaptation
Maria Holmgren Troy

This chapter investigates the two most influential examples of contemporary Nordic Gothic, Lars von Trier’s TV series Riget and John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel Låt den rätte komma in and its Swedish film adaptation together with the American adaptations of these Nordic works: Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital (ABC 2004) and Matt Reeves’ Let Me In (2010). The chapter first briefly discusses Gothic TV and TV horror and outlines how von Trier, King and Lindqvist have moved between different media. It then goes on to examine some differences between the Nordic and American productions that are related to Gothic humour. In terms of setting, the American adaptations are placed in small American towns rather than the central locations constituted by the Danish capital in Riget and the Stockholm suburb in Låt den rätte komma in. Whereas the American adaptations thus pertain to King’s brand of small-town American Gothic, the Nordic works can be seen as a kind of urban Gothic. The settings, the chapter suggests, also make visible ideological differences between the Nordic Gothic works and the American adaptations.

in Nordic Gothic
Wolf behaviour becoming wolfish nature
Marcus Sedgwick

Wolves have always generated strong emotions of admiration and fear in people. For some they are revered as powerful hunters while they are reviled by others as intruding and unwanted predators. A general theme in this chapter is that the behaviour of wolves, particularly their hunting and predation, is not simply regarded as a natural and necessary part of their social ecology, but it is construed, and differently perceived, by different groups of people, as a moral ecology, and the human judgements of that ecology construct wolves. A specific theme in the chapter will be how the werewolf emerged, and was given shape, from concerns about wolves themselves.

in In the company of wolves
Wagner the Wehr-wolf, Sweeney Todd and the limits of human responsibility
Joseph Crawford

This chapter explores the relationship between early nineteenth-century werewolf fiction and the changing legal codes that governed the circumstances under which a criminal might be found ‘not guilty by virtue of insanity’. Before the institution of the McNaghten rules, criminal responsibility could be evaded only if the criminal ‘doth not know what he is doing, no more than an infant, than a brute or a wild beast’. This chapter argues that the werewolves that appear in the fiction of the period, who are often outlaws or madmen or both, function as symbolic representations of the pre-McNaghten criminal lunatic whose threatening otherness is manifested in their bestial nature, and whose proper home is in the forested wilderness. The serial killers of the early penny bloods, conversely, speak to the new anxieties created by the post-McNaghten popularisation of notions of ‘moral insanity’, according to which the criminal lunatic may look and behave exactly like everyone else, enabling them to prey with impunity upon the inhabitants of the new cities of the 1830s and 1840s.

in In the company of wolves
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Nordic Gothic traces Gothic fiction in the Nordic region from its beginnings in the nineteenth century with a main focus on the development of Gothic from the 1990s onwards in literature, film, TV series and new media. The volume gives an overview of Nordic Gothic fiction in relation to transnational developments and provides a number of case studies and in-depth analyses of individual narratives. The book creates an understanding of a ubiquitous but hitherto under-researched cultural phenomenon by showing how the Gothic narratives make visible cultural anxieties haunting the Nordic countries and their welfare systems, and how central these anxieties are for the understanding of identities and ideologies in the Nordic region. It examines how figures from Nordic folklore and mythology function as metaphorical expressions of Gothic themes, and also how universal Gothic figures such as vampires and witches are used in the Nordic context. The Nordic settings, and especially the Nordic wilderness, are explored from perspectives such as ecocriticism and postcolonialism and subcategories such as Gothic crime, Gothic humour, troll Gothic and geriatric Gothic are defined and discussed. Furthermore, the phenomenon of transcultural adaptation is investigated, using the cases of Lars von Trier’s Riget and John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Låt den rätte komma in, two seminal works of contemporary Nordic Gothic.

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Places and spaces in Johan Theorin’s Öland quartet series
Yvonne Leffler

This chapter explores the internationally successful Swedish novelist Johan Theorin’s Öland quartet series, including the novels Skumtimmen (2007; Echoes of the Dead, 2008), Nattfåk (2008; The Darkest Room, 2009), Blodläge (2010; The Quarry, 2011) and Rörgast (2013; The Voices Beyond, 2015). The novels are examined as Gothic crime, that is, a Gothic subgenre of Nordic Noir, where the modern crime investigation is obstructed by seemingly supernatural happenings linked to the Nordic location and its history. The chapter demonstrates in what way Theorin writes within an old and established Nordic tradition of crime fiction dating back to the early nineteenth century, at the same time as he expands the importance of setting and Nordic mythology to address different aspects of modernity and the disadvantages of modern lifestyle. Yi-Fu Tuan’s distinction of place and space is therefore used as a point of departure in the investigation of the return of a fear-provoking past linked to unfamiliar spaces beyond modern society and the tourist attraction on the idyll of Öland, a Swedish summer resort in the Baltic sea.

in Nordic Gothic
Johan Höglund

This chapter maps and analyses new Gothic media and video games developed in the Nordic region. The chapter first considers what the concepts Gothic and Nordic actually entail when the focus is new media rather than literature or cinema. This is followed by analyses of four of the more important and widely disseminated games and considers the interactive stories that they tell in relation to the Nordic geographical, ideological and cultural landscape. The first two, Finnish Alan Wake (2010) and Swedish Little Nightmares (2017), are well funded and internationally distributed games made for an international audience. The other two, Swedish Year Walk (2013) and Norwegian Through the Woods (2016) are independent games that may look for wide dissemination, but that keep much closer to Nordic themes and settings.

in Nordic Gothic
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Sofia Wijkmark

This chapter examines the phenomenon of Nordic troll Gothic. It demonstrates how late twentieth and twenty-first century troll fiction can be understood in relation to the concepts of ecogothic and dark ecology, and how the ambiguous character of the troll is used to explore limits and question categories. Nature, especially the forest, is depicted as dark and uncanny and it is sometimes also described as having agency, dissolving the limits between animate and inanimate. The chapter analyses troll stories by Swedish authors Selma Lagerlöf, Kerstin Ekman and Stefan Spjut, and Finnish author Johanna Sinisalo, showing how they make use of both the folklore tradition and the Gothic. The chapter demonstrates, among other things, that the plot is rarely narrated from the point of view of the troll, and that trolls often are depicted as a dying species but also as dark avengers, striking back at humankind.

in Nordic Gothic