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.
This article argues that American medicine‘s preoccupation with atmospheric etiology shaped the American Gothic as it was instantiated by Charles Brockden Brown and developed by Edgar Allan Poe. Antebellum medical discourse, I suggest, worked in service of a paranoiac hypervigilance or what I call the \miasmatic imagination\. Read in conversation with Gothic fiction, miasma theory offers a way of conceptualizing "atmosphere" as both etiological and rhetorical: a medium for the transmission of disease and a literary technique for the transmission of meaning.
Gothic Fears, Cultural Anxieties and the Discovery of X-rays in the 1890s
In 1895, the world of modern physics was effectively ushered in with the discovery of X-rays by the German physicist, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen. X-rays rapidly changed the ways in which the human body was perceived, and their discovery was documented and fiercely debated in scientific articles, newspaper reports, literary writings, cartoons and films. This article examines a range of these responses, both scientific and popular, and considers the particular significance of their repeated recourse to the Gothic and the uncanny as a means of expressing both excitement and disquiet at what the new X-ray phenomenon might mean.
The essay interrogates a range of critically neglected nineteenth-century anthologies, periodicals and yellowbacks to reveal the ways in which ephemeral Gothic narratives contributed revealingly and troublingly to the public understanding of medicine across the nineteenth century and not just during the fin de siècle. By addressing how narratives of everyday medical encounters and interventions were immersed in contemporary anxieties about the nature of medicine and the role of the practitioner, the authors draw attention to how the figure of the practitioner is increasingly problematized until he himself becomes a locus of pathological disturbance, creating a set of images associated with medicine, practitioners and the everyday that proved culturally enduring across nineteenth-century culture.