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The Motif of the Fecal Child in Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein
John Rieder

This essay argues that Victor Frankenstein‘s project, the creature that results from it, and the disgust inspired by the creature in all who behold him, all allude consistently and coherently to the infantile sexual theory of fecal reproduction. The fantasy of fecal reproduction, a widespread feature of male god creation myths, is integral to the structure of patriarchy, but is usually subsumed into the normative family structure in the course of the oedipal crisis and its resolution. Victor Frankenstein‘s violent repudiation of his creature stems from Frankenstein‘s inability - or stubborn refusal - to negotiate the transition between the oral-anal fantasy and the normative genital model. The violent disparagement directed at the creature by all who see him testifies to the social disruption threatened by this unresolved tension between the pre-oedipal economy, based on gift-giving and womb-envy, and the oedipal economy of rivalry, castration anxiety, and patriarchal appropriation.

Gothic Studies
The Case of J. Sheridan Le Fanu‘s ‘Carmilla’
Michael Davis

This article proposes a reading of Le Fanu‘s ‘Carmilla’ in relation to the ideas of the French psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche, particularly Laplanche‘s notion of the enigmatic signifier. Laplanche refigures the inauguration of human sexuality as a failure on the infant‘s behalf to meaningfully translate the enigmatic messages received from the adult world, which, Laplanche argues, are freighted with unconscious sexual meaning. Unable to fully metabolise these enigmatic signifiers, the infant is prone to trauma, as the un-translated residues of the adults address sink into the unconscious to form powerful unconscious fantasies that continue to trouble the subject. A parallel is drawn here with Laura‘s relationship with the mysterious but alluring Carmilla, whose enigmatic desire both fascinates and repels Le Fanu‘s narrator from the moment of Laura‘s childhood trauma but whose enigmatic language remains indecipherable. Carmilla herself is finally seen as the allegorical figure of the Gothic itself: profoundly enigmatic and potentially traumatising.

Gothic Studies
Madness, Mimicry and Scottish Gothic
Scott Brewster

This essay draws on Julia Kristeva‘s concept of ‘borderline’ experience, a feature of psychotic discourse, to examine the representation of madness, split personality and sociopathic behaviour in James Hogg‘s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner and the contemporary, muted Gothic of John Burnside‘s The Locust Room (2001). The main characteristics of borderline experience - a concern with authenticity and the proper name, with uncertain boundaries between inside and outside, truth and delusion - are central concerns in Hogg and Burnside, and the essay assesses the value of borderline discourse for a critical reading of madness in Gothic.

Gothic Studies
Gary Farnell

Ranging from Horace Walpole to Angela Carter, this essay contributes to an emergent theory of the Gothic. Its argument is that ‘Gothic’ is the name for the speaking subjects experience of approaching what Jacques Lacan has termed ‘the Thing’, and that the processes of sublimation and abjection are what structure the experience of that approach.

Gothic Studies
Ewan Kirkland

This paper examines Gothic traditions across the survival horror videogame series Silent Hill. Considering Gothic dimensions of the videogame medium, then Gothic themes in survival horror videogames, the paper proceeds to explore Silent Hills narrative aesthetics and gameplay in relation to the Gothic. Considerations include: the intrusion of sinister alternative worlds, fragmented narrative forms, a sense of the past impinging upon the present, and the psychoanalytic dimensions of the series. Throughout this paper attention will be paid to ways in which Gothic themes resonate with or are transformed according to the dictates of the videogame medium.

Gothic Studies
An Introduction
Jerrold Hogle and Andrew Smith

This tenth anniversary issue of Gothic Studies reconsiders how the study of the Gothic mode in many venues (from fiction and drama to cinema and video) has been deeply affected by a wide range of psychoanalytical, historicist, cultural, and literary theories that have been, and can still be, employed to interpret and explain the Gothic phenomenon. This collection builds on the most fruitful of existing theoretical perspectives on the Gothic, sometimes to transform them, or by suggesting new alliances between theory and the study of Gothic that will enrich both domains and advance the mission of Gothic Studies, as well as Gothic scholarship in general, to provide the best arena for understanding the Gothic in all its forms.

Gothic Studies
Angelica Michelis

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.

Gothic Studies
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Victor Sage

Robert Mighall, A Geography of Victorian Gothic: Mapping Historys Nightmares; Andrew Smith, Gothic Radicalism: Literature, Philosophy and Psychoanalysis in the Nineteenth Century

Gothic Studies
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The Self, the Social Order and the Trouble with Sympathy in the Romantic and Post-Modern Gothic
Eric Daffron

This essay is about the figure of the double in Romantic and post-modern Gothic literature and film. Most criticism of the double interprets this figure from the perspective of psychoanalysis. In contrast, this essay embeds the double in cultural history. In discussions of eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century discourses of ‘possessive individualism’, nationalism, and sexuality, this essay contends that the eighteenth century and the Romantic Period became dissatisfied with sympathy: with its inability to unify the social order without dissolving the crucial differences that distinguish one person from another. In response, Gothic literature invented the double to represent an extreme moment when two characters think, act, and feel so much alike that they can no longer be distinguished from each other. The essay offers two examples: Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein and Ridley Scott‘s Blade Runner.

Gothic Studies
Open Access (free)
James Baldwin and the Ethics of Trauma
Mikko Tuhkanen

This essay proposes that we turn to James Baldwin’s work to assess the cost of, and think alternatives to, the cultures of traumatization whose proliferation one witnesses in contemporary U.S. academia. Beginning with some recent examples, the essay briefly places these cultures into a genealogy of onto-ethics whose contemporary forms arose with the reconfiguration of diasporic histories in the idioms of psychoanalysis and deconstructive philosophy in 1990s trauma theory. Baldwin speaks to the contemporary moment as he considers the outcome of trauma’s perpetuation in an autobiographical scene from “Notes of a Native Son.” In this scene—which restages Bigger Thomas’s murderous compulsion in Native Son—he warns us against embracing one’s traumatization as a mode of negotiating the world. In foregoing what Sarah Schulman has recently called the “duty of repair,” such traumatized engagement prevents all search for the kind of “commonness” whose early articulation can be found in Aristotle’s query after “the common good” (to koinon agathon). With Baldwin, the present essay suggests the urgency of returning to the question of “the common good”: while mindful of past critiques, which have observed in this concept’s deployment a sleight-of-hand by which hegemonic positions universalize their interests, we should work to actualize the unfinished potential of Aristotle’s idea. Baldwin’s work on diasporic modernity provides an indispensable archive for this effort.

James Baldwin Review