Regina Maria Roche, the Minerva Press, and the bibliographic spread of Irish gothic fiction
4 Gothic materialities: Regina Maria Roche, the Minerva Press, and the bibliographic spread of Irish gothic fiction
Evocative of the nationally transformative potential of travel sketched in The old Irish baronet (1808) and The tradition of the castle (1824), Regina Maria Roche's The castle chapel (1825) establishes the global journey of one of its two protagonists as the key to restored and refreshed identities at home. Compelled by his dependent status to conciliate the favour of a rich uncle by travelling first to India and then
Felicia Hemans and Burial at Sea in the Nineteenth-Century
This article identifies sea-burial as a topos of the early nineteenth-century imaginary
that draws on both Gothic tropes and Romantic reformulations of Gothic aesthetics in order
to signal a sea changed poetics of shifting dislocation, decay, and denial in the work of
Felicia Hemans. The loss of a corpse at sea makes visible the extent to which any act of
posthumous identification relies upon a complex network actively maintained by the living.
This article will also develop our understanding of the ways in which Gothic tropes of
burial might extend into specifically maritime literary cultures of the early nineteenth
century. This strand of a nautical Gothic reflects not only nineteenth-century anxieties
about nautical death but the corporeality of both individual and cultural memory. Such
representations of sea-burial negotiate a nautical Gothic aesthetic that might propel new
understanding of the relationship between poetry and the material dimensions of affective
Gothic Landscapes and Grotesque Bodies in Mary Shelley‘s The Last Man
In The Last Man, Mary Shelley builds on Edmund Burke‘s aesthetic theory and Ann Radcliffe‘s definition of Gothic terror as elevating and imaginative by projecting sublime terror onto her landscapes. Yet, her characters’ identification with sublime landscapes insufficiently articulates their visceral pain; Shelley also emphasises the horrible, physical dimensions of her characters’ suffering, asserting the primacy of their bodies as sites of their identities and afflictions. The freezing, grotesque horror of disease conflicts with the landscapes elevating sublimity, as the Romantic and Gothic aesthetic categories of terror and horror collide in Shelley‘s efforts to articulate the materiality of her characters’ traumatic experiences.
Fredric Jameson‘s Postmodernism is shaped by a pervasive tension in its pages between a Modernist Gothic, which Jameson explicitly rejects, and a Postmodernist Gothic, which he does not acknowledge. This analysis of the Gothic in Postmodernism suggests that ‘paranoid paranoia’ is an unspoken counterpart to Jameson‘s ‘nostalgia for nostalgia’.
This essay proposes that a number of the concerns expressed in
Dracula can be read through Bram Stoker’s employment of the
imagery of precious metals and jewels. Focusing on the materiality of place –
the treasure-laced landscape of Transylvania and the cliffs of Whitby famous for
their reserves of jet – and the association between these materials and
vampirism, I argue that analysing the symbolism of precious materials leads to a
fuller understanding of many of the novel’s key anxieties. Not only does this
analysis demonstrate Stoker’s elaborate use of jewel imagery in developing the
notion of the female vampire as a hard, penetrative woman, it identifies the
imperial implications of the trade in precious materials. In doing so, it claims
that Stoker employs a ‘language of jewels’ in Dracula, through
which he critiques the imperialistic plundering of Eastern lands, and
demonstrates how these monsters – intimately entwined with these materials –
attempt a rejection of Western appropriation.
In The Arcades Project, Benjamin explores the different aspects of nineteenth-century culture, in search of a historical reality to which people can awake in a revelatory act of political consciousness. However, the uncanny effects of his archival approach impinge on this revelatory and sublime process. Rather than revealing the political, economic, and technological latent content of the past, representations of the material object confront consciousness with the unfamiliar and abject forms of the repressed collective unconscious. The Gothic tropes of Benjamin‘s text are the traces of the melancholy haunting his concept of a demystifying revelation of historical and material truth.
This article theorizes the transgressive faculties of cyberspace‘s Gothic labyrinth, arguing that it is haunted by the ghost of material/information dualism. This ghost is embodied in cybergoth subculture: while cybergothic music creates a gateway to the borderland between biological and virtual realities, dancing enables cybergoths to transgress the boundaries between the two.
Zoographic Ambivalences in Mantegazza, Ouida, and Vernon Lee
In the framework of contemporary ecocritical theories, this comparative analysis of works by Paolo Mantegazza, Ouida, and Vernon Lee focuses on the conflictual relationship of proximity and differentiation at stake in the human-animal distinction in a post-Darwinian context dominated by the rise of experimental sciences. A discussion of vivisection and animal taming prompted by anthropocentric works as Fisiologia del dolore and Upilio Faimali in tension with proanimal essays by Ouida and Lee shows how the animal, caught between pure inert materiality and idealization, emerges as an intrinsic lack that the human fills with contending rational, utilitarian, moral, and affective motivations.
Crude Metonymies and Tobe Hooper‘s Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
My analysis of Tobe Hooper‘s Texas Chain Saw Massacre centralizes the films political setting: an early 1970s Texas gas station that has no fuel and that offers only death to those who assume petroleums easy purchase. Such a move shifts critical attention from the film‘s monstrous bodies to its Gothic economy and the dead ends of corporate US oil culture. In Chain Saw, metonymies of blood and oil signify not only the material history of Texas oil and the seemingly unstoppable machinery of capitalism, but also the tremendous gap – or ‘gulf ’ – between human and nonhuman persons.
Sensationalising Substance Abuse in the Victorian Home
Controversies about the mid-Victorian sensation novel newly brought to the fore clinical conceptualisations of novel reading as an addiction. Yet as novelists capitalised on the sensational potential of substance abuse at home as part of the genre‘s rupture of ideologies of domesticity, they juxtaposed the consumption of sensational material with other emotional and physical dependencies, while reading could be a panacea or cure. M. E. Braddon‘s John Marchmont‘s Legacy (1863) and Wilkie Collins‘s The Law and the Lady (1875) form particularly revealing examples of self-reflexive sensation novels that capitalise on a clinical Gothic of addiction by appropriating discourses that had, ironically, attacked the sensation genre most virulently.