This article investigates how Chaucer‘s Knight‘s and Squire‘s tales critically
engage with the Orientalist strategies buttressing contemporary Italian humanist
discussions of visual art. Framed by references to crusading, the two tales
enter into a dialogue focusing, in particular, on the relations between the
classical, the scientific and the Oriental in trecento Italian discourses on
painting and optics, discourses that are alluded to in the description of
Theseus Theatre and the events that happen there. The Squire‘s Tale exhibits
what one might call a strategic Orientalism designed to draw attention to the
Orientalism implicit in his fathers narrative, a narrative that, for all its
painstaking classicism, displays both remarkably Italianate and Orientalist
features. Read in tandem, the two tales present a shrewd commentary on the
exclusionary strategies inherent in the construction of new cultural identities,
arguably making Chaucer the first postcolonial critic of the Renaissance.
Gothicised Place and Globalised Space in Victorian Cornwall
This paper examines an account of Cornwall published by Wilkie Collins in 1851, focusing specifically upon Collins‘s claim that the region lay ‘beyond’ the railway. In so doing it explores the way in which mid-nineteenth-century Gothic discourse can be understood to inform a scalar opposition between localised place – conceived of as static, isolated, anachronistic and particular – and globalised space - conceived of as kinetic, networked, modern and homogenous.
This article argues that American medicine‘s preoccupation with atmospheric etiology shaped the American Gothic as it was instantiated by Charles Brockden Brown and developed by Edgar Allan Poe. Antebellum medical discourse, I suggest, worked in service of a paranoiac hypervigilance or what I call the \miasmatic imagination\. Read in conversation with Gothic fiction, miasma theory offers a way of conceptualizing "atmosphere" as both etiological and rhetorical: a medium for the transmission of disease and a literary technique for the transmission of meaning.
Masculinity and Perversity in Crash and Fight Club
This article considers two evocations of the Gothic in contemporary film that link the popular recurrence of Gothic conventions to contemporary constructions of perversity and masculinity. Crash (1996) and Fight Club (1999) intersect themes of masculine perversity with the Gothic, giving substantially new life to discourses surrounding a ‘crisis in masculinity’ at the turn of the twentieth century. The relationship between the Gothic and masculinity is considered in relation to themes surrounding the corporeal, psychological and social ‘perversities’ in the two films.
Colonising Europe in Bram Stoker‘s The Lady of the Shroud
Postcolonial criticism is preoccupied for the most part with the implications and the cultural consequences of European interference in a vaguely delineated territory which could best be termed `the East‘. This statement, which might justifiably be regarded as being simplistic, provocative or even mischievous, must however be acknowledged as having some currency as a criticism of an occluded though still discernible impasse within an otherwise vibrant and progressive critical discourse. The postcolonial debate is, to borrow a phrase from Gerry Smyth, both characterised and inhibited by a `violent, dualistic logic‘ which perpetuates an ancient, exclusive dichotomy between the West and its singular Other. In practical terms, this enforces a critical discourse which opposes the cultural and textual power of the West through the textuality of Africa, Asia and the Far East rather than and at the expense of the equally colonised terrains of the Americas and Australasia. This is not to say that critical writings on these latter theatres of Empire do not exist, but rather to suggest that they are somehow less valued in a critical discourse which at times appears,to be confused by the potentially more complex diametrics implied in the existence of a North and a South.
Carter‘s fiction sits uneasily in relation to both Gothic and feminist discourses, especially as they converge through the category of the ‘female Gothic’. Owing to her interest in pornography and her engagement with the sexual/textual violence of specifically ‘male Gothic’ scripts – for example, the Gothic scenarios of Sade, Poe, Hoffmann, Baudelaire and Stoker – Carter‘s Gothic heroines have frequently been censured as little more than objects of sadistic male desires by feminist critics. This article re-reads Carter‘s sexual/textual violations – her defiance of dominant feminist and Gothic categories and categorisations – through the problematic of (post-)feminist discourse and, especially, the tension between ‘victim’ and ‘power’ feminisms as prefigured in her own (Gothic) treatise on female sexual identity, The Sadeian Woman (1979). Mapping the trajectory of her Gothic heroine from Ghislaine in Shadow Dance (1966) to Fevvers in Nights at the Circus (1984), it re-contextualises Carters engagements with the Gothic as a dialogue with both the female Gothic and feminist discourse.
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.
Through an analysis of Dracula, this article will explore some of the hyperbolic rhetoric surrounding drug use and womens place in medical discourse that has, like the Count himself, risen again and again in our culture. It argues that Dracula attempts – through popular metaphors of addiction, shifting terminologies about drug use, and British anxieties about immigration – to make a clear but highly unstable distinction between licit and illicit drug use. In the process, Stoker‘s novel illuminates a complex relationship between middle-class women and the opiates that paradoxically serve as a site of patriarchal oppression and resistance to it.
Neoconservative Hunters and Terrorist Vampires in Joe Ahearne‘s Ultraviolet (1998)
A consideration of the ways in which the discourse of monstrosity, once deployed against a political enemy, closes off open debate and undermine the values of those who argue that the ends needed to defeat them justify any means used. This article explores the parallels between the neoconservative rhetoric of the War on Terror with that of the vampire hunters in Joe Ahearnes television show Ultraviolet (1998), as both deny their enemies the status of political subjects. It offers a reading of the show in light of Slavoj Žižeks call to evaluate the arguments of both sides in such moralised conflicts.
The lesbian community of colour in America has been largely overlooked amidst the current popular culture mania for all things vampiric. Yet the complex ambiguity of the lesbian vampire very readily lends itself to women of colour, who frequently explore in their gothic fiction the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, class, assimilation, and the transgressive significance of the vampire myth. This essay discusses two works by African-American Jewelle Gomez and Chicana- American Terri de la Pena as lesbian Gothic romantic fiction, as feminist affirmation, and as prescriptive, community-building activist discourse.