This book investigates discursive structures intermittently recurring through Gothic writing, and provides intertextual readings, exemplifications of contemporaneously understood, discursively inflected, debate. By drawing on the ideas of Michel Foucault to establish a genealogy, it brings Gothic writing in from the margins of 'popular fiction', resituating it at the centre of debate about Romanticism. The book stresses that the intertextual readings form the methodological lynchpin for interpreting Gothic writing as self-aware debate on the character of the subject. Foucault's theory of discourse enables readers to gain an historical purchase on Gothic writing. The book traces the genealogy of a particular strand, the 'Gothic aesthetic', where a chivalric past was idealized at the explicit expense of a classical present. It introduces the reader to the aspects of Gothic in the eighteenth century including its historical development and its placement within the period's concerns with discourse and gender.
influential The Literature of
Terror ( 1980 ).
Punter’s reading of the historical importance of the late eighteenth
century – as a period witnessing significant developments in the
formation of the modern self -echoes the traditional view of Romanticism
as an epiphenomenon of the modern. MichelFoucault’s similar
periodization of the late eighteenth century – where a series of
another through the legal and emotional bonds of the
heterosexual marital relation. 5 Consequently, it is fair to argue, along with
Robert Miles and Ann Williams, that Gothic romance is an important
cultural agent in the deployment of modern sexuality as mapped out by
MichelFoucault in his The History of Sexuality: An Introduction
Consistent with the
theoretical impasse (Perkins 1991 : 1-8).
These critical difficulties are, to say the least, problematic.
The influence of MichelFoucault’s theory of discursive practices is
partially owing to the promise it holds out of finding a route through,
and I have adopted it here as a means of negotiating a path through the
methodological crux. The immediate advantage of Foucault’s theory is
that it rests on an
account of the discursive formation of modernity,
MichelFoucault comments upon the function of monsters in processes of
biological classification. Unnatural but of nature, monsters are
necessary figures in the taxonomic systems through which species are
identified and associated. Monsters are both necessary and excluded,
exceptional figures crucial in the process of furnishing the natural
At the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first, both Gothic literature and the history and theory of fashion have achieved increasing prominence within academic discourse. They have been reinstated from marginal disciplines to vital and important areas of intellectual enquiry. The emphasis on the surface in Gothic narratives can also be related to the emergence of the sensibility now known as camp. Judith Halberstam's contribution is most significant in her gesture towards the Gothic body as a kind of patchwork entity, stitched together from fragments and scraps of discourse. The concentration on fashion 'technologies', or 'techniques of fashioning the body' inspired by Michel Foucault's work, has enabled fashion theorists to evade the conventional dichotomies of primitive and civilised, natural and artificial which have plagued the constructions of dress.
‘Machines of social death’ and state-sanctioned harvest in dystopian fiction
contemporary metaphors of transfer material – may be bent to forms of violence.
‘Machines of social death’ and ‘worthwhile’ life
Societies render certain lives more precarious than others, and a range of critical vocabulary has been formulated to describe such precarities and their mechanisms. As discussed in my Introduction, MichelFoucault’s concept of biopower explores how societies foster certain lives while neglecting others, for example fostering some life through statistical tracking and state-funded public-health measures, while others have protections removed
snails, playing around mushrooms and with birds, all comparable to the Cottingley fairies. Similarly, Conan Doyle's father, Charles Doyle, as a patient of Montrose Royal Lunatic Asylum in 1889, kept an illustrated diary full of watercolour fairy pictures (Crawley 1983 : 118). For Conan Doyle, if the Cottingley fairies existed, it would redeem Charles, showing that he had the ‘evolved sensibilities’ of a clairvoyant, rather than being ‘mad’ (Lycett 2007 : 409). The Cottingley images spoke to Doyle in a deep and personal way. MichelFoucault and Jay Miskowiec note that
Ancient Egypt in the aesthetic and decadent imaginary
See MichelFoucault, The Will to Knowledge: The History of Sexuality, Volume I , trans. Robert Hurley (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1998).
Wilde's phrasing and imagery recall Shakespeare's Enobarbus on Cleopatra: ‘The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne, / Burned on the water: the poop was beaten gold; / Purple the sails, and so perfumed that / The winds were lovesick with them; the oars were silver, / Which to the tune of
Bodies dis(re)membered: Gothic and the transplant imaginary
, decay, and grief were part of the world of disorder that Enlightenment rationality sought to contain and explain, but Gothic fantasies were inextricably embroiled with these discourses of modernity because sites of ‘darkness’ were necessary fields of operation for rational illumination. MichelFoucault points out:
A fear haunted the latter part of the eighteenth century: the fear of darkened spaces, of the pall of gloom which prevents the full visibility of things, men and truths … The new political and moral order could not be established until these places