American zombie Gothic films have changed markedly in their tone, style, and structure
since September 11, an evolution that expands the Gothic mode to include the mobility of
the narratives protagonists, a popularisation of the movies, and an increased engagement
with a multi-ethnic international community. To remain timely, relevant, and commercially
viable, such alterations must occur, and these shifts in particular can best be explained
by the changing cinematic marketplace, the influence of videogames, and the policies and
anxieties resulting from the (inter)national trauma of 9/11 and the War on Terror. This
essay examines the film version of World War Z as a key text for exploring the current
transition from a localised siege narrative to an international kind of road trip movie, a
shift largely tied to the popularity of zombie-themed videogames.
Post-9/11 Aesthetics of Uncertainty in PlayDead‘s Limbo (2010)
This paper explores the Gothic videogame Limbo (PlayDead, 2010) in terms of an aesthetic and conceptual precariousness and preoccupation with uncertainty that, I suggest, are particularly associated with the traumatic legacy of 9/11. It engages with Judith Butler s post-9/11 reflections in her work Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (2004) on the loss of presumed safety and security in the First World. From here, she expresses the potential for shared experiences of vulnerability to inaugurate an ethics of relationality, without recourse to investment in systems of security. I then contrast this with an alternative critical trajectory that emphasises the use-value of such systems over a desire for moral purity. This critical framework is considered in relation to the treatment of vulnerability in Limbo, through its construction of a dialogic relationship between its diegetic game-world and the formal structure of its game-system. The former is found to articulate a pervasive experience of uncertainty, whilst the latter provides a sense of security. I draw upon psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott‘s theories of play and creative living to argue that the tension between game-world and game-system in Limbo creates a model of how uncertainty can be dwelt with, through a precarious balance between the use of systems of security and disengagement from them.
The aim of this article is twofold. On the one hand, it offers a survey of found footage horror since the turn of the millennium that begins with The Blair Witch Project (1999) and ends with Devils Due (2014). It identifies notable thematic strands and common formal characteristics in order to show that there is some sense of coherence in the finished look and feel of the films generally discussed under this rubric. On the other hand, the article seeks to reassess the popular misunderstanding that found footage constitutes a distinctive subgenre by repositioning it as a framing technique with specific narrative and stylistic effects.
Gothic Terror(ism) and Post-Devolution Britain in Skyfall
The article examines the phenomenon of terrorism presented in Sam Mendes‘s film Skyfall (2012), with relation to Julia Kristeva‘s concept of the abject, developed further by Robert Miles in the context of nationalism and identity. While exploring the extraterritorial nature of terrorism, which in Skyfall breaches the borders of the symbolic order, threatening the integrity of the British nation-state represented by M, Bond, and MI6, the article also focuses on the relationship between the major characters, whose psychological tensions represent the country‘s haunting by the ghosts of colonialism, as Britain is forced to revisit its imperial past(s) and geographies at the fragile moment of post-devolutionary changes.
Post-9/11 Horror and the Gothic Clash of Civilisations
Kevin J. Wetmore
Twentieth century cinema involving monster conflict featured solitary monsters in combat (Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, for example). The writing of Anne Rice and the RPG Vampire: The Masquerade by White Wolf Games introduced the idea of Gothic communities and civilisations in conflict. It was not until after the terror attacks of 11 September that the idea of a clash of civilisations between supernatural societies fully emerged into the mainstream of popular culture. This essay explores the construction of a clash of civilisations between supernatural communities as a form of using the Gothic as a metaphor for contemporary terrorism in film and television series such as Underworld, Twilight, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries. Inevitably, it is the lycanthropes that are the disempowered and disenfranchised society and are alternately exploited by and rebel against the dominant vampire civilisation grown decadent and on the verge of collapse. Post-9/11 Gothic posits a world in which vampire society is the new normal, and werewolves represent a hidden danger within. Lycanthropes must be controlled, profiled and/or fought and defeated. Through close readings of the cinematic and televisual texts, I explore the vampire/werewolf clash as metaphor and metonym for the war on terror.
With reference to films such as The Terror Experiment (2010) and Osombie (2012), this paper explores the figure of the zombie terrorist, a collectively othered group that is visually identifiable as not us and can be slaughtered with impunity. In cinematic treatments, the zombie terrorist operates within a collectivity of zombies, erasing the possibility of individuality when the transformation from human to zombie takes place. The zombie terrorist signifies otherness in relation to selfhood, and is characterised by a mind/body split. Emerging from the grave in the archetypal zombie primal scene, this reanimated corpse is undead in its animate corporeality coupled with a loss of all mental faculties. The erasure of individual identity and memory along with broader human characteristics such as empathy or willpower coincides with the zombie terrorist s physical movement and action.
This article engages with the discourse of food and eating especially as related to the representation of the abject eating-disordered body. I will be particularly interested in the gothic representation of the anorexic and bulimic body in samples of medical advice literature and NHS websites and how they reinforce popular myths about anorexia by imagining the eating disordered body as a fixed object of abjection. Focusing on the use of gothic devices, tropes and narrative structure, these imaginations will be read against alternative representations of anorexic/bulimic bodies in autobiographical illness narratives, fictional accounts and a psychoanalytical case history in order to explore how gothic discourses can help opening up new understandings and conceptions of illness, healing and corporeality in the dialogue between medical staff and patients.
The diabetic body can be mapped as a profoundly Gothic landscape, referencing theories of the monstrous, the uncanny and the abject. Diabetes is revealed under what Foucault has termed the medical gaze, where the body becomes a contested site, its ownership questioned by the repeated invasion of medical procedures. As an invisible chronic illness, diabetic lifestyle is positioned in relation to issues of control, transformation, and the abnormal normal. Translating the Gothic trope of the outsider into medical and social realms, the diabetic body is seen as the Othered body ceaselessly striving to attain perfection through blood purification rituals. This essay examines how diabetes is portrayed in film and fine art practice from the filmic approach to diabetes as dramatic trope to fine art techniques that parallel ethnographic and sociological approaches to chronic illness.
The Gothic, Medical Collections and Victorian Popular Culture
As soon as the corpse became central to medical education, and as a growing number of private medical schools opened throughout Great Britain, involving the rise of the demand for dead bodies, the literary field played a significant part in the popularisation of medical knowledge, offering insights into the debates around medical practice and education. As this paper will show, the literary field dealt with medical practitioners treatment of the corpse through playing upon a Gothic rhetoric, dramatizing the tension between the cutting up, preservation and exhibition of human remains in medical collections and the objectification of the patient on the one hand, and the central part played by anatomy in medical knowledge and the therapeutic applications of dissection, on the other. Through exploring how literary texts capitalizing on the Gothic paraphernalia recorded cultural responses to medical practice in the long nineteenth century, this paper will ultimately underline the role that nineteenth-century literature played, not merely in the dissemination of medical knowledge but also in the public engagement of medicine.