Neoliberalism, Zombies and the Failure of Free Trade
The popular cultural ubiquity of the zombie in the years following the Second World War is testament to that monster‘s remarkable ability to adapt to the social anxieties of the age. From the red-scare zombie-vampire hybrids of I Am Legend (1954) onwards, the abject alterity of the ambulant dead has been deployed as a means of interrogating everything from the war in Vietnam (Night of the Living Dead, 1968) to the evils of consumerism (Dawn of the Dead, 1978). This essay explores how, in the years since 9/11, those questions of ethnicity and gender, regionality and power that have haunted the zombie narrative since 1968 have come to articulate the social and cultural dislocations wrought by free-market economics and the shock doctrines that underscore the will to global corporatism. The article examines these dynamics through consideration of the figure of the zombie in a range of contemporary cultural texts drawn from film, television, graphic fiction, literature and gaming, each of which articulates a sense not only neo-liberalism itself has failed but simply wont lie down and die. It is therefore argued that in an age of corporate war and economic collapse, community breakdown and state-sanctioned torture, the zombie apocalypse both realises and works through the failure of the free market, its victims shuffling through the ruins, avatars of the contemporary global self.
This essay argues that Stephen King‘s 2006 novel Cell explores the age of terror with the aid of two concurrent Gothic discourses. The first such discourse belongs to the tradition that Patrick Brantlinger has termed Imperial Gothic. As such, it imagines with the War on Terror that the threat that the (Gothic) Other constitutes is most usefully managed with the help of massive, military violence. The other, and more traditional, Gothic discourse radically imagines such violence as instead a War of Terror. The essay then argues that Cell does not attempt to reconcile these opposed positions to terror. Instead, the novel employs the two Gothic discourses to describe the epistemological rift that terror inevitably creates.
Hawthorne, Ligotti, and the Absent Center of the Nation-State
Donald L. Anderson
Although composed before 9/11, Nathaniel Hawthorne‘s My Kinsman, Major Molineux and Thomas Ligotti‘s The Shadow at the Bottom of the World are both prescient in their critique of the impulse of American communities following 9/11 to monumentalise and concretise the nation-state and in particular the remains at Ground Zero. In this essay I discuss Ground Zero as a suggestive trope for the illusiveness of the nation as an imagined community. These complementary Gothic short stories operate as allegory and offer a way of reading how patriotic communities cohered around what remained at Ground Zero and (re)produced it as a site of patriotic performance. A new Gothic trait in our age of terror(ism) is the anxiety over the absence of a stable centre that anchors national continuity. This article places these short stories in conversation with Benedict Anderson,,Étienne Balibar and other theorists who engage critiques of nation-building in order to draw out what is Gothic about the nation-state and to further substantiate how 9/11 revealed the nation-state as a principally Gothic phenomenon.
This article examines the post-millennial popularity of the found footage movie, in particular its engagement with the representational codes of non-fiction media. Whilst the majority of critical writings on found footage identify the 11 September attacks on the World Trade Centre as a key visual referent, they too often dwell on the literal re-enactment of the event. This article instead suggests that these films evoke fear by mimicking the aesthetic and formal properties of both mainstream news coverage and amateur recording. As such they create both ontological and epistemological confusion as to the reality of the events depicted. Rather than merely replicating the imagery of terror/ism, these films achieve their terrifying effects by mimicking the audiences media spectatorship of such crisis.
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.