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The Lost Book Review of Norman Macrae‘s Highland Second-Sight (1909)

Bram Stoker was no stranger during his lifetime to spiritualistic endeavors or esoteric fancies. The proof of this claim lies unquestionably across his fictions, which are cratered with Gothicisms from the supernatural and mesmerism to dark atmospherics and ambiances, as well as, or especially, second sight, which is to say visions of the future or the present seen from afar. This occultic power comprises the topic of a newly discovered book review by Stoker reproduced within this article and entitled The Second Sight. This book review is significant in a few crucial ways, most especially because it is so far the only book review Stoker is known to have published, adding a new bibliographical chapter to his already diverse writing career. Of equal import, however, is the circumstance of his reviewing a work of esoterica like Norman Macrae‘s Highland Second-Sight, making this discovery in many ways a valorization of the scholarly work of Catherine Wynne and others who have treated of Stoker‘s predilection in his writings for other knowledges.

Gothic Studies

In this article, I propose that the key to the underlying dissidence of M. G. Lewis‘s The Monk lies in the novel s depiction of consent, a fundamental principle in late eighteenth-century British discourse. For British thinkers of all stripes, a government and populace that valued consent made Britain the greatest nation in the world; The Monk disrupts this worldview by portraying consent, whether express or tacit, political or sexual, as incoherent. By depicting consent as illegible and pervasively undermining the distinction between consent and coercion, The Monk effectually threatens a value that rested at the core of late eighteenth-century British identity.

Gothic Studies
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Epistemology and Revolution in Charles Brockden Brown‘s Wieland

In Wieland, Charles Brockden Brown attempted to negotiate varying forces confronting contemporary American religious and political life. Through the transformation of the temple into a Gothic zone Brown injects questions of epistemological uncertainty, clashing forces of rational Enlightenment and supernatural faith. Brown outlines the religiously motivated founding of the nation reacting to European oppression as allegorical to the Wieland patriarchs journey from the Old to New World, and his construction of the temple demonstrates the establishment of new institutions in the American landscape. Religious liberty turns into extremism, producing Gothic violence that transforms the temple into a site of horror and destruction. His children attempt to re-transform the temple along rational Enlightenment lines much the same as Brown perceived the need for America to distance itself from its revolutionary and religious extremist origins. Yet the failure of rationalism to expunge the supernatural aura from the temple allows for the tragic events to transpire that comprise the bulk of the novel. Ultimately, Brown‘s Gothic novel evinces the critical nature of the epistemological clash he sees taking place for the direction America will take, and his concerns that Gothic violence will reverberate throughout future generations find their expression in Wieland‘s temple.

Gothic Studies
The Viscous Palimpsest of Charles Maturin‘s Melmoth the Wanderer

Charles Maturin‘s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) is often considered the last major work in the corpus of Romantic-period Gothic. This paper draws upon that text and Maturin‘s correspondence, especially his sermons, in which the author incarnates a rich matrix of dichotomies, to offer a reading of the subtle metatextual and autobiographical qualities of the novel. Maturin‘s conflicted identity as clergyman and literary parvenu afford understanding of the nature of, and challenges posed by, this complex work. Like Maturin‘s preaching, Melmoth bears witness to and sympathy with its time. Yet it also bears the imprints or multiple scripts of historical and psychological forces contributing to its formation. Ostensibly a Gothic romance engaged with the dialectic of high Romanticism, it is shown to be a self-reflexive text, with ambivalence towards its own literary form. The plethora of tales within Maturin‘s novel represent an attempt to convey and self-validate a fabric of a created national history, but Melmoth is shown to both use and indict the ideological structures that it has employed to create its own texture. It is suggested that detail of torture and anatomisation of belief represent an unconscious self-dramatisation.

Gothic Studies
The Marvel Films‘ Loki as Gothic Antagonist

This paper explores the role and function of the Marvel film‘s Loki as a Gothic antagonist. Loki‘s characterisation incorporates several Gothic themes. As a shapeshifter, he corresponds with the idea of the unstable and fragmented body, also found in Gothic texts dealing with supernatural transformations. By breaking down the barriers between the realms of Asgard, Earth and Jotunheim, Loki engages with tropes surrounding Gothic space, where borders and boundaries are permeable. Finally, Loki is Othered by his association with the feminine and queer Gothic, something that ultimately leads to another common Gothic theme, that of madness.

Gothic Studies
Servant Negotiations of Gender and Class in Ann Radcliffe‘s The Romance of the Forest

Male servants in Ann Radcliffe‘s early Gothic novels are frequently underexplored in critical examinations of gender identity in Radcliffe‘s literary politics due to a long tradition of social and literary marginalisation. However, class-specific masculine identities built on a socio-moral and political ideologies and domestic anxieties are not only particularly evident in Radcliffe‘s The Romance of the Forest (1791), but also effectively problematise an already unstable masculine ideal therein. Servant masculine identity in Radcliffe‘s work is developed through the contrast between servant characters and their employers, through examples of potentially revolutionary active and narrative agency by male servants, and through the instance of the heroine and male servants joint flight from the Gothic space. This article will establish that the male servant character in the early Gothic novel is essential to understanding socio-gendered identity in Radcliffe‘s work, and that thisfi gure s incorporation in Gothic class and gender politics merits further examination.

Gothic Studies
Open Access (free)
James Baldwin and the Broken Silences of Black Queer Men

James Baldwin writes within and against the testimonial tradition emerging from the Black Church, challenging the institution’s refusal to acknowledge the voices and experiences of black queer men. Baldwin’s autobiographical novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, creates a space for Baldwin’s testimony to be expressed, and also lays the foundation for a tradition of black queer artists to follow. In the contemporary moment, poet Danez Smith inhabits Baldwin’s legacy, offering continuing critiques of the rigidity of conservative Christian ideologies, while publishing and performing poetry that gives voice to their own experiences, and those of the black queer community at large. These testimonies ultimately function as a means of rhetorical resistance, which not only articulates black queer lives and identities, but affirms them.  

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Biographical Dispatches on a Freedom Writer

This essay presents the idea of James Baldwin as a freedom writer, the organizing idea of my biography in progress. As a freedom writer, Baldwin was a revolutionary intellectual, an essayist and novelist committed unfailingly to the realization of racial justice, interracial political equality, and economic democracy. While the book is still in process, this short essay narrates autobiographically how I came to meet and know Baldwin’s work, explains in critical fashion my work in relation to existing biographies, and reflects interpretively my thoughts-in- progress on this fascinating and captivating figure of immense historical and social consequence.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Listening over James Baldwin’s Shoulder

Black music played a crucial role in the work and life of James Baldwin. What Baldwin heard in the music guided his sense of political reality and human possibility, his invention of character, his shifting analytical point of view, and his decisions about what to do, when, and how to do it during his life in private and career in public. The music, therefore, also offers his critics and his readers important insight and guidance in their own experience and interpretation of his work. This brief essay accounts for some of the most basic connections between Baldwin and black music; it serves here as an introduction to a list of songs, some of which offered Baldwin important guidance and some of which offer his readers access to deeper meanings in his work. A playlist of songs, curated by Ed Pavlić and Justin A. Joyce, is available on YouTube at www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLtSYQ5bCX-C-IZkeQ_PX7ncsbdjI32HSy

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
James Baldwin Review