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in Over her dead body
in Over her dead body
in Over her dead body
Elisabeth Bronfen
in Over her dead body
Elisabeth Bronfen
in Over her dead body
Abstract only
A reassessment

This collection of essays by scholars in Renaissance and Gothic studies traces the lines of connection between Gothic sensibilities and the discursive network of the English Renaissance. The essays explore three interrelated issues: 1. Early modern texts trouble hegemonic order by pitting the irrational against the rational, femininity against patriarchal authority, bestiality against the human, insurgency against authoritative rulership, and ghostly visitation against the world of the living. As such they anticipate the destabilization of categories to flourish in the Gothic period. 2. The Gothic modes anticipated by early modern texts serve to affect the audience (and readers) not only intellectually, but above all viscerally. 3. The Renaissance period can be seen as the site of emergence for the Gothic sensibility of the 18th century as it cultivated an ambivalence regarding the incursion of the supernatural into the ordinary.

Nightmares, conscience and the ‘Gothic’ self in Richard III
Elisabeth Bronfen and Beate Neumeier

Per Sivefors investigates Renaissance dream theories in relation to notions of conscience, arguing for an increasingly ‘ambiguous status of conscience [which] pushes dreams in direction of a psychologizing approach – dreams as revealing truths about the human self’ after the Reformation. Thus the Reformation shift towards linking individualized interiority, conscience and guilt is seen as prefiguration of the ‘internalized conscience’ of the Gothic (Sage). In this context the (proto-)Gothicism of the nightmares in Shakespeare’s Richard III is connected to their ‘function of a guilty conscience’. The ‘staged vision of the ghosts becomes an image of Richard’s divided interior’ as ‘the level of introspection is more important than the level of divine retribution’. In this sense the Shakespearean nightmares anticipate ‘an irresolution between supernatural and psychological causes’ in Gothic fiction (Hogle 213).

in Gothic Renaissance
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Hamlet and early modern stage ghosts
Elisabeth Bronfen and Beate Neumeier

Catherine Belsey uses a historical approach to explore Shakespeare’s introduction of ‘mystery, uncertainty, equivocation (the components of the uncanny)’ to the Renaissance stage through an integration of ‘the popular tradition of fireside ghost stories’ in the intertextual web of his plays. Taking up key terms of the Gothic such as the macabre, terror, equivocation and the uncanny, Belsey explores Shakespeare’s use of ghostly apparitions for a ‘blending of existing conventions to change the parameters for fiction’, addressing uncertainties about the relation between spirit and matter, about the reliability of the senses. Belsey locates the difference of Shakespearean ghosts from earlier stage ghosts rooted in the classical tradition in their direct interaction with the world of the living, in the evocation of terror shared by the onstage characters, and in the persistence of uncertainty and equivocation.

in Gothic Renaissance
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Elisabeth Bronfen and Beate Neumeier

The point of departure of John Drakakis’ investigation of notions of death and decay is Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Drakakis takes the use of a real skull in Gregory Doran’s RSC production of the play (2008) as the starting-point for a discussion of the implications of rereading the Renaissance through the history of the Gothic in terms of the current obsession with notions of death, material and virtual reality. Drawing on a wide variety of Renaissance writers including Donne, Webster and Middleton as well as on Gothic novelists such as Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe and Isabella Kelly, he discusses possible connections and their legitimacy in connection to theoretical approaches from Freud to Bataille and Derrida.

in Gothic Renaissance
Abstract only
Elisabeth Bronfen and Beate Neumeier

This chapter outlines the general scope and aim of an investigation into Gothic sensibilities in the Renaissance period, situating the project with regard to historical contexts as well as existing scholarly discourses of early modern and of Gothic studies. What does it mean to postulate a Gothic Renaissance, to attribute a Gothic sensibility to both dramatic and non-dramatic texts written in early modern England? This introduction approaches the workings of Gothic sensibilities and proposes their existence avant la lettre, pointing out the English Renaissance period with its emerging emphasis on individual subjectivity and national identity as an apt starting point for a historically specific investigation into connections with the Gothic.

in Gothic Renaissance