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Places and spaces in Johan Theorin’s Öland quartet series

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

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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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
The afterlives of Ophelia in Japanese pop culture

In her afterlives in Japan, Ophelia becomes a woman with supernatural power. In an early twentieth-century novel, Natsume’s Kusamakura (1906), the Ophelia figure resists a supernatural curse. In other mid-century novels, she is a ghost who raises an angry voice against an abusive Hamlet, such as in Kobayashi’s Ophelia’s Literary Remains (1931) and Ooka’s Hamlet’s Diary (1955). In post-modern Japanese pop culture, such as manga and anime, Ophelia is an avenging ghost (Nakata’s Ringue (1998) and The Ring 2 (2008)), a water dragon (Yagi’s Claymore (2007)), a protectress of the tree of life (Oizaki’s Romeo × Juliet (2007)), a sea goddess (Miyazaki’s Ponyo (2008)), a grim reaper (Toboso’s and Shinohara’s Black Butler (manga: 2006–present; anime: 2008-11), an adolescent ghost (Otsuka, Zero: 2014) and backstroke champion who has supernatural power to communicate with animals (Inoue, Ophelia, not yet: 2015).

This chapter argues that various transformations of Ophelia in Japan create a critical intervention in Ophelia’s fetishised image as a dedicated lover, beautiful corpse, innocent adolescent and passive victim.

in Shakespeare and the supernatural
The rise of Nordic Gothic

This chapter provides a historical survey of the rise of the Gothic in Nordic literature, film, TV series and video games. Going back to the first generation of Gothic texts, the chapter notes that German, British and French novels around 1800 were quickly translated into the Scandinavian languages, and that they inspired Nordic writers – and, later, film directors – to emulate this tradition but also to adapt the genre to Nordic audiences. The chapter then discusses the evolution of Nordic Gothic during the nineteenth and twentieth century, noting the most important writers and their work. Finally, the chapter describes the emerging scholarship that shows how Nordic canonical authors and filmmakers have been influenced by the Gothic, and addresses what can be termed the Nordic Gothic boom that can be said to begin in 2004 with John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Låt den rätte komma in.

in Nordic Gothic
A challenge to the Festival

This chapter explores the interactions between text, performance and venue to develop a typology of the aesthetics of the supernatural in Shakespearean productions in the Honour Court of the Avignon Popes' Palace between 1947 and 2015. A locus of conflicts, whether it actualises the hero's inner turmoil or the opposition between characters – generally between the murderer and his victim(s) thirsting for revenge – the ghost also crystallises the challenging confrontation between performance and venue, theatrical event and spectacular monument, the transient and the permanent. As a metatheatrical motif, the ghost questions not only the theatrical medium but also the theatricality of the venue and their compatibility. Shakespearean ghosts thus challenge the Avignon Festival while paradoxically confirming its vocation as a platform for experimentation, a laboratory for the performing arts and a showcase of contemporary theatre.

in Shakespeare and the supernatural
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Imagining and planning for death in wartime

This chapter traces the development of British plans to prevent, mitigate and cope with the mass death of civilians that was expected in any future conflict. It sets these within the political, social and cultural history of the decade; in particular the growth of an emotional culture of self-management, discussed in the previous chapter, the failure of disarmament in the early 1930s, the bombing of civilians in that decade, and the widely shared belief that any future war would be apocalyptic. It argues that as Britain moved towards another total war, the state realised that the dead would include civilians alongside the military, and that the management of these dead, and of the grief of the bereaved, would be central to public support for the war effort, and for the maintenance of morale amongst a people asked to go to war once again.

in Dying for the nation
Shakespeare’s challenges to performativity

This chapter questions early modern conceptions of the supernatural from a linguistic perspective: can language produce supernatural effects? How is the supernatural expressed through language? First, it considers the context of early modern theatre in which prophecies were problematic, as church and state tried to avoid the spread of seditious rumours. The evocative power of prophecy resisted these regulatory efforts, and monarchs recognised the close link between prophecies and poetry, attested since antiquity in the figure of the poet-prophet. Then the chapter discusses how the language of prophecy (in Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Richard II or Richard III) could trick audiences into believing in the supernatural power of prophecies, despite the fact that the language used turns out to be non-performative. Instead, prophecies make language ‘stutter’ (a concept borrowed from Gilles Deleuze), rather than advance the plot. Prophecies posit a number of hypothetical futures, questioning our interpretation of historical narratives and supernatural phenomena. By producing the supernatural through language, rather than through characters or special effects, prophecies challenge our interpretations of Shakespeare’s plays.

in Shakespeare and the supernatural

This chapter examines how the supernatural elements in A Midsummer Night’s Dream are constructed from mythical and folkloric sources but reconfigured as contemporary topical allusions. The play thus seems to be a locus for potentially competing influences: borrowing from the past while also writing to the present moment, most likely to excite the interest of his audiences and their yen for gossip or scandal. Shakespeare’s invention of the name ‘Puck’ for the puckle figure of folklore creates opportunities for every member of an audience to see the figure as consonant with their own local knowledge of such a sprite, but also enables the playwright to develop an allusion to George Buck and his competition with John Lyly for the reversion of the Master of Revels. The play thus also positions the censor as its first audience, with the allusion and Puck’s epilogue addressed directly to the Master of Revels at the time, Edmund Tylney, making amends for recent offences by Shakespeare’s company. The forest outside Athens becomes the site for a clash between modes of signification – sources and topicality – anchoring supernatural elements to far more worldly contemporary issues.

in Shakespeare and the supernatural
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Remembering and commemorating the dead of war

This chapter focuses on the ways that the dead were remembered, or not, in the immediate postwar years. Beginning with a discussion of the ways that some individuals attempted to manage and memorialise their loss, it examines letters, postwar memoirs and interviews in order to consider the ways that individuals managed loss in the postwar period. It goes on to look at communal responses to loss, examining the collective and individual meanings of In memoriam notices placed in newspapers. Finally, it looks at state level attempts to memorialise the dead through the creation of new war memorials, and public responses to these, which demonstrated a widely shared desire that the dead be commemorated through ‘living memorials’ and the fulfilment of war aims associated with the ‘people’s war’.

in Dying for the nation