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Robert Z. Birdwell

Go Tell It on the Mountain sheds light on James Baldwin’s response to his Pentecostal religious inheritance. Baldwin writes protagonist John Grimes’s experience of “salvation” as an act of his own break with his past and the inauguration of a new vocation as authorial witness of his times. This break is premised on the experience of kairos, a form of time that was derived from Baldwin’s experience of Pentecostalism. Through John Grimes’s experience, Baldwin represents a break with the past that begins with the kairotic moment and progresses through the beginnings of self-love and the possibility of freedom enabled by this love. This essay contributes a new perspective on discussions of Baldwin’s representation of time and his relationship to Christianity.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
A Review of Hilton Als’ God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin
Leah Mirakhor

This essay reviews Hilton Als’ 2019 exhibition God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin at the David Zwirner Gallery. The show visually displays Baldwin in two parts: “A Walker in the City” examines his biography and “Colonialism” examines “what Baldwin himself was unable to do” by displaying the work of contemporary artists and filmmakers whose works resonate with Baldwin’s critiques of masculinity, race, and American empire. Mirakhor explores how Als’ quest to restore Baldwin is part of a long and deep literary and personal conversation that Als has been having since he was in his teens, and in this instance, exploring why and how it has culminated via the visual, instead of the literary. As Mirakhor observes, to be in the exhibit is not to just observe how Als has formed and figured Baldwin, but to see how Baldwin has informed and made Als, one of our most lyrical and impassioned contemporary writers and thinkers.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Black Women as Surrogates of Liberation in James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk
Marquita R. Smith

This essay analyzes how James Baldwin’s late novel If Beale Street Could Talk represents Black women’s care work in the face of social death as an example of how Black women act as surrogates for Black liberation giving birth to a new world and possibilities of freedom for Black (male) people. Within the politics of Black nationalism, Black women were affective workers playing a vital role in the (re)creation of heteronormative family structures that formed the basis of Black liberation cohered by a belief in the power of patriarchy to make way for communal freedom. This essay demonstrates how Beale Street’s imagining of freedom centers not on what Black women do to support themselves or each other, but on the needs of the community at large, with embodied sacrifice as a presumed condition of such liberation.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Pandemic and management of dead bodies in Brazil
Liliana Sanjurjo, Desirée Azevedo, and Larissa Nadai

This article analyses the management of bodies in Brazil within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its objective is to examine how the confluence of underreporting, inequality and alterations in the forms of classifying and managing bodies has produced a political practice that aims at the mass infection of the living and the quick disposal of the dead. We first present the factors involved in the process of underreporting of the disease and its effects on state registration and regulation of bodies. Our analysis then turns to the cemetery to problematise the dynamics through which inequality and racism are re-actualised and become central aspects of the management of the pandemic in Brazil. We will focus not only on the policies of managing bodies adopted during the pandemic but also on those associated with other historical periods, examining continuities and ruptures, as well as their relationship to long-term processes.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Arely Cruz-Santiago and Ernesto Schwartz-Marin

COVID-19 has reinstated the sovereign enclosures of corpse management that mothers of the disappeared had so successfully challenged in the past decade. To explore how moral duties toward the dead are being renegotiated due to COVID-19, this article puts forward the notion of biorecuperation, understood as an individualised form of forensic care for the dead made possible by the recovery of biological material. Public health imperatives that forbid direct contact with corpses due to the pandemic, interrupt the logics of biorecuperation. Our analysis is based on ten years of experience working with families of the disappeared in Mexico, ethnographic research within Mexico’s forensic science system and online interviews conducted with medics and forensic scientists working at the forefront of Mexico City’s pandemic. In the face of increasing risks of viral contagion and death, this article analyses old and new techniques designed to bypass the prohibitions imposed by the state and its monopoly over corpse management and identification.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Tadesse Simie Metekia

Atrocities that befell Ethiopia during the Dergue regime (1974–91) targeted both the living and the dead. The dead were in fact at the centre of the Dergue’s violence. Not only did the regime violate the corpses of its victims, but it used them as a means to perpetrate violence against the living, the complexity of which requires a critical investigation. This article aims at establishing, from the study of Ethiopian law and practice, the factual and legal issues pertinent to the Dergue’s violence involving the dead. It also examines the efforts made to establish the truth about this particular form of violence as well as the manner in which those responsible for it were prosecuted and eventually punished.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Gothic, Romantic and Poetic Identity in Shelley‘s ‘Alastor’
Spencer Hall

This essay considers the relationship between Gothicism and romanticism and explores the impact of postmodernist constructions of a ‘new Gothic’ on contemporary views of romanticism. It argues that the former has affected the latter not only by foregrounding the presence of darker elements in the discourse of romantic idealism, but also by demonstrating the ambiguous continuities and conjunctions within that discourse between transcendence and transgression, idealization and dissolution, eternity and temporality. Taking ‘Alastor’ as an example, the essay seeks to show how the poem draws upon the legacy and the vocabulary of Gothicism to problematize the quests for transcendence and poetic identity that form its core. The essay argues, further, that Shelley, as a second-generation romantic, draws upon the Gothic to express his skepticism about and to explore the antithetical elements in first-generation Wordsworthian romanticism.

Gothic Studies
The Case of Mary Ashford and the Cultural Context of Late-Regency Melodrama
David Worrall

This paper examines the historical context of the publication and reception of three dramas related to the murder of a gardener‘s daughter, Mary Ashford in Sutton Coldfield in 1817. George Ludlam‘s The Mysterious Murder was countered by a play called The Murdered Maid whose anonymous author is likely to have been a local clergyman. Both plays were locally written and published. When the case reached a national arena, John Kerr‘s Presumptive Guilt provided a London-based comment on the case. The paper examines the relationship between these metropolitan and provincial print cultures and the way in which dramatic form was used as a mode of mediation between public and legal discourse.

Gothic Studies
Angela Carter‘s Exposure of Flesh-Inscribed Stereotypes
Mariaconcetta Costantini

The human body is a crucial site for the inscription of cultural paradigms: how people are perceived controls the way they are treated. Postmodernist writers have shown sexual roles, racial inequalities and other forms of discrimination to be parts of a process of reductio ad absurdum, consisting of the identification of the individual‘s social functions with their anatomical features as well as with the habitual marking of their bodies. This article examines Angela Carter‘s The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman where Carter‘s refusal of established body politics is most clearly dramatised. This novel exposes the dreary consequences of power/weakness relations, together with its contradictory exploitation of Gothic devices, making it an esssential testimony to Carter‘s postmodernist reconfiguration of worldviews and narrative modes.

Gothic Studies
Andrew Teverson

One of the dominant impressions given by the sculpture of Anish Kapoor is of haunting. In and around the definite presences, the manifest shining, brightly coloured forms, lie a series of baffling absences; the shades of presences that are in excess of the work, or the shadows of meanings not yet grasped. Perhaps this is most evident in the work that announces its haunting in its title, the spectral sculpture Ghost (1997), in which a sliver of light, caught dancing in the polished interior of a rugged block of Kilkenny limestone, becomes not only the `presence‘ that occupies the work but also a symbol of all that it is unable to embody and leaves hovering about its fringes and borders. This Ghost is Kapoor‘s haunted house sculpture; a sculpture in which the mysterious agency that unnerves the viewer is both the most significant occupant of its limestone mansion and, paradoxically, its most insignificant, or unsignifiable omission.

Gothic Studies