In Shirley Jackson‘s novel The Haunting of Hill House, the tropes of haunting, telepathy, and clairvoyance serve to remind us that there is more to alterity than the shattering of the autos. In Jackson‘s novel, these tropes lead us to reconsider what we mean by subjectivity for, beyond the question of consciousness, they also destabilize what Sonu Shamdasani refers to as the “singular notion of the ‘unconscious’ that has dominated twentieth century thought,” especially via Freudian psychoanalysis. By drawing upon Carl Jung‘s theory of synchronicity in relation to quantum theory, this paper argues that Jackson‘s novel challenges certain classical models of human consciousness and subjectivity as well as psychoanalytic models of interpretation.
James Baldwin and Melanie Klein in the Context
of Black Lives Matter
David W McIvor
Recent killings of unarmed black citizens are a fresh reminder of the troubled state of
racial integration in the United States. At the same time, the unfolding Black Lives
Matter protest movements and the responses by federal agencies each testify to a not
insignificant capacity for addressing social pathologies surrounding the color line. In
order to respond to this ambivalent situation, this article suggests a pairing between the
work of James Baldwin and that of the psychoanalyst Melanie Klein. I will argue that we
cannot fully appreciate the depths of what Baldwin called the “savage paradox” of race
without the insights provided by Klein and object relations psychoanalysis. Conversely,
Baldwin helps us to sound out the political significance of object relations approaches,
including the work of Klein and those influenced by her such as Hanna Segal and Wilfred
Bion. In conversation with the work of Baldwin, object relations theory can help to
identify particular social settings and institutions that might allow concrete efforts
toward racial justice to take root.
This paper explores the occult relationship between modern psychoanalysis and the pre-Freudian psychoanalysis of James Hogg‘s 1824 Gothic novel, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. Haunted by the ghosts of Mesmerism and of Calvinisms rabidly contagious religious fervour, Hogg‘s novel explodes post-Lockean paradigms of the subject for a post-Romantic British culture on the eve of the Empire. Turning back to Scotland‘s turbulent political and religious history, the novel looks forward to the problems of Empire by turning Locke‘s sense-making and sensible subject into the subject of an unconscious ripe for ideological exploitation, a subject mesmerized by the process of making sense of himself.
Sibling Rivalry in Elizabeth Gaskell‘s The Old Nurse‘s Story
Elizabeth Gaskell s The Old Nurse s Story (1852) occupies a shadowy middle ground between Gothic tale and case history. Concerning sibling rivalry and parental abuse recollected from the vantage of old age, it is both a ghost story and a narrative of maternal absence, paternal domination, transference, and the return of the repressed. Using both psychoanalysis and Gothic genre criticism, this essay traces, in miniature, the Victorian movement from spirits to sexual psychology.
The Motif of the Fecal Child in Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.