Theorizing the Nineteenth-Century Gothic Pharmography
Carol Margaret Davison
Liberty, a term dear to the Enlightenments emancipatory project, has long been a key concept in the Gothic. No branch of the Gothic more powerfully or creatively examines the complexities of the liberty question than the Gothic pharmography – a narrative chronicling drug/alcohol seduction and addiction. Drawing on three novelistic sub-genres – the Oriental tale, the imperial Gothic, and the Urban Gothic – the Gothic pharmography coalesces several distinct nineteenth-century debates – the nature of the will and liberal individualism; social oppression and conformity; urban and national degeneration; and British imperialist expansion, which involved the perceived anxiety-inducing sense of Britains growing economic dependence on the non-Western world. This essay offers an overview of the Gothic pharmography from the late eighteenth century through to the fin de siècle in Marie Corelli‘s Wormwood.
Self-driving cars have long been depicted in cinematic narratives, across genres from science fiction films to fantasy films. In some cases, a self-driving car is personified as one of the main characters. This article examines cinematic representations and imaginaries in order to understand the development of the self-driving technology and its integration in contemporary societies, drawing on examples such as The Love Bug, Knight Rider, Minority Report and I, Robot. Conceptually and methodologically, the article combines close readings of films with technological concerns and theoretical considerations, in an attempt to grasp the entanglement of cinematographic imaginaries, audiovisual technologies, artificial intelligence and human interactions that characterise the introduction of self-driving cars in contemporary societies. The human–AI machine interaction is considered both on technological and theoretical levels. Issues of automation, agency and disengagement are traced in cinematic representations and tackled, calling into question the concepts of socio-technical assemblage.
This article provides an introduction to this special section of James Baldwin Review 7 devoted to Baldwin and film. Jackson considers Baldwin’s distinct approach to film criticism by pairing him with James Agee, another writer who wrote fiction as well as nonfiction in several genres, and who produced a large body of film criticism, especially during the 1940s. While Agee, a white southerner born almost a generation before Baldwin, might seem an unlikely figure to place alongside Baldwin, the two shared a great deal in terms of temperament and vision, and their film writings reveal a great deal of consensus in their diagnoses of American pathologies. Another important context for Baldwin’s complex relationship to film is television, which became a dominant media form during the 1950s and exerted a great influence upon both the mainstream reception of the civil rights movement and Baldwin’s reception as a public intellectual from the early 1960s to the end of his life. Finally, the introduction briefly discusses the articles that constitute this special section.
Searching for Black Queer Domesticity at Chez Baldwin
Magdalena J. Zaborowska
This essay argues for the importance of James Baldwin’s last house, located in St. Paul-de-Vence in the south of France, to his late works written during the productive period of 1971–87: No Name in the Street (1972), If Beale Street Could Talk (1974), The Devil Finds Work (1976), Just Above My Head (1979), The Evidence of Things Not Seen (1985), and the unpublished play The Welcome Table (1987). That period ushered in a new Baldwin, more complex and mature as an author, who became disillusioned while growing older as a black queer American who had no choice but to live abroad to get his work done and to feel safe. Having established his most enduring household at “Chez Baldwin,” as the property was known locally, the writer engaged in literary genre experimentation and challenged normative binaries of race, gender, and sexuality with his conceptions of spatially contingent national identity. The late Baldwin created unprecedented models of black queer domesticity and humanism that, having been excluded from U.S. cultural narratives until recently, offer novel ways to reconceptualize what it means to be an American intellectual in the twenty-first-century world.
Hearing Voices in L. M. Montgomery‘s Emily Climbs and F. W. H. Myers
The novels of L. M. Montgomery‘s Emily trilogy belong to the genre of domestic fiction, but they are punctuated by uncanny events, by excursions into a Gothic mode where the girl‘s smooth transition from rebellious child to compliant adult is disrupted. This paper is an investigation of Montgomerys use of Gothic tropes in the second novel of the trilogy, Emily Climbs (1925); in particular, this essay analyses the chapter entitled ‘In the Watches of the Night’, a chapter that is exemplary of Montgomery‘s use of the Gothic mode to disrupt the disciplinary system that enjoins the adolescent girl to situate her desires in the home. The chapter is permeated by Montgomery‘s reading in abnormal psychology, particularly by F. W. H. Myerss Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death (1903), a work that lends a scientific veneer to Montgomerys Gothicism with its account of what ‘hearing voices’ means. In an extravagantly gothic metaphor, Slavoj Zizek claims that the ‘life of a voice’ is ‘the uncanny life of an undead monster, not the “healthy” living self-presence of meaning’ (103). Montgomery‘s text arguably excavates a moment which reveals both the speaking subject and the ideology which disciplines it to be marked by the uncanny, by that which undermines ‘the “healthy” living self-presence of meaning’.
Defining the Relationships between Gothic and the Postcolonial
William Hughes and Andrew Smith
The Gothic has historically maintained an intimacy with colonial issues, and in consequence with the potential for disruption and redefinition vested in the relationships between Self and Other, controlling and repressed, subaltern milieu and dominant outsider culture. Such things are the context of obvious, visible irruptions of the colonial Orientalist exotic into the genre, whether these be the absolutist power and pagan excesses of Beckford‘s Vathek (1786), the Moorish demonic temptations of Zofloya (1806) or the perverse, corrupting influence of a western invader upon a primitivised European in the ImmaleeIsadora episodes of Maturin‘s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820). These are, in a sense, horrors beyond, the exoticism of time and space distancing the problematic text from the comfortable, identifiable world of the contemporary and the homely a reassurance comforting even in a reading of the Irish episodes of Melmoth the Wanderer, where geographical marginality anticipates a borderland as distant from metropolitan sensibilities as effective as those of later writers such as Hope Hodgson, Machen or Rolt. The colonial is both kept at a distance and in a state of suggestive vagueness, of resemblance rather than obvious representation, its horrors accessible though thankfully not immanent.
Though pointedly raising its literary pedigree with allusions to ‘high’ literature from Percy‘s RELIQUES to Spensers FAIRIE QUEENE, Coleridge‘s ‘Christabel’ (1799-1801) still draws heavily on the very Gothic fiction of the 1790s that he condemns as ‘low’ writing in reviews of the same period. Especially Gothic is this poems alter-ego relationship between the title character and the vampiric Geraldine. This peculiar use of echoes extends the many jibes of this period that blame the many literary changes of this time (including a mass-produced effulgence of printed writing and a frightening blurring of genres) on the Gothic as a kind of scapegoat for the cultural upheaval of this era. The Gothic is, in fact, a site for what Kristeva calls ‘abjection’: the cultural ‘throwing off’ of intermingled contradictions,into a symbolic realm that seems blatantly fictional and remote. As such a site, the Gothic in ‘Christabel’ haunts the poem with unresolved cultural quandaries that finally contribute to its unfinished, fragmentary nature. One such quandary is what is abjected in the Gothic relationship of the heroine and Geraldine: the irresolution at the time about the nature and potentials of woman.
Elizabeth Stuart Phelps‘s Gothic short story Kentucky‘s Ghost (1868) is amongst the most
distinctive of ghost-child narratives to be published in the nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries. This is owing, foremost, to its unique topographical and social
setting; taking place at sea amongst an all-male crew of mostly lower-class sailors,
rather than in the large suburban or rural house of middle or upper-class families that
were typical of this Anglo-American literary sub-genre. This article considers the
child-figure in Phelpss tale within intersecting frameworks: firstly, within a tradition
of nautical folklore that is integral to producing the tales Gothic tone. Secondly, within
a contemporary context of frequently romanticised depictions of child-stowaways in
literature, but a reality in which they were subjected to horrific abuse. Finally, her
tale is discussed as a reformist piece that, despite its singularities, draws on darker
versions of literary and folkloric dead-child traditions to produce a terrifying tale of
Elsewhere, but always subsumed within more general issues, I have argued for paying more attention to the Gothicism in the writings of James Kirke Paulding, whose literary career spanned the first half of the nineteenth century. He is one of those American writers who, like murder, will out, despite more neglect than his accomplishments deserve. By 1830 - to cite but one example of Paulding‘s significance - when Hawthorne and Poe were still apprentices in the craft of short fiction, a span of years had passed during which Paulding‘s productions in this genre clearly justified such labels as ‘the Paulding decade of the short story’ (Amos L. Herold‘s designation). Harold E. Hall, moreover, ranks ‘Cobus Yerks and ‘The Dumb Girl’, two Paulding tales from this period, among the finest early nineteenth-century American short stories. Although personal and career necessities often drew him away from literary pursuits, Paulding should by no means be ignored; his name keeps surfacing, particularly when the topic is literary nationalism, as Benjamin T. Spencer, John Seelye, Michael John McDonough, and I have already indicated. Paulding is also remembered as a pioneer in presenting frontier life in fiction and for his early essays in what we now term Southwestern Humor.1
Regarded by fans and critics alike as the Queen of Horror, Barbara Steele stands as
one of the few bona fide cult icons of the genre, whose ability to project an uncanny
blend of deathliness and eroticism imbues her characters with a kind of necrophiliac
appeal. Horror film scholars have tended to read Steele‘s films in feminist terms, as
texts that play to our fascination with the monstrous-feminine. This article
approaches them from a different standpoint – that of cinephilia studies. Steele‘s
cult horror films are at their most basic level horror movies about cinephilia,
presenting her as the very embodiment of the ghostly medium that cinephiles cherish.
In so doing, they convert Steele into a necrophiliac fetish-object, an intoxicating
fusion of death and desire. Considering Steele‘s work from this perspective reveals
the fluidity of the boundary between horror and cinephilia, demonstrating that horror
has something important to teach us about cinephilia and cinephilia has something
important to teach us about horror.