Critics and Critical Practice at the Monthly Film Bulletin
Richard Lowell MacDonald
This article focuses on the Monthly Film Bulletin, a magazine devoted to what is
often regarded as the lowliest and most ephemeral form of film criticism: the film
review. Studying the Bulletins publication history, with a particular emphasis on the
1970s, the article challenges the dismissal of journalistically motivated film
criticism in academic discourse. It argues that the historical interest of the
Bulletins late period lies in its hybrid identity, a journal of record in which both
accurate information and personal evaluation coexisted as values, and in which a
polyphony of individual critical voices creatively worked through a routinised
reviewing practice and a generic discursive format.
The Awakening (2011) and Development Practices in the British Film
This article reveals how screenwriter Stephen Volk‘s idea for a sequel to The
Innocents (1961, Jack Clayton) became, over the course of fifteen years, the British
horror film The Awakening (2011, Nick Murphy). It examines practitioner interviews to
reflect on creative labour in the British film industry, while also reorientating the
analysis of British horror film to the practices of pre-production, specifically
development. The research reveals that female protagonist Florence Cathcart was a
major problem for the project and demonstrates how the Florence character changed
throughout the development process. Repeatedly rewritten and ultimately restrained by
successive male personnel, her character reveals persistent, problematic perceptions
of gender in British horror filmmaking.
This article considers the recurring motif of the female driver in a selection of films by Alfred Hitchcock. By placing these screen representations of female drivers within the context of prevailing attitudes found throughout twentieth-century American society, the discussion seeks to evaluate Hitchcock’s creative deployment of potent cultural issues in his work. In this pursuit, the article identifies certain disparities in the portrayals of female drivers, resulting in both positive and negative depictions, which can be related to the director’s broader ambivalence towards femininity throughout his oeuvre.
Chris Baldick and Robert Mighall have argued rather convincingly that ‘Gothic
Criticism’ is in need of an overhaul. I revisit their controversial article
through an analysis of Oscar Wilde’s parody of the Gothic and of scholarship,
‘The Portrait of Mr W. H.’ In this tale of creative criticism, Wilde’s hero,
Cyril Graham, invents the character of Willie Hughes to prove a theory about
Shakespeare’s sonnets. Contrary to Baldick and Mighall, I argue that Gothic
criticism might do well to take its cue from its object of study. Plunging deep
into the abyss, abandoning pretentions of knowing fact from fiction, natural
from supernatural, I whole-heartedly - momentarily - consider the ‘Willie Hughes
theory’ and ‘I will take up the theory where Cyril Graham left it and I will
prove to the world that he was right’.
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.
This essay draws on James Baldwin’s ideas on race, immigration, and American identity to examine the experience of contemporary African immigrants in the United States. More Africans have come to the U.S. since 1965 than through the Middle Passage, and only now is their experience gaining the full creative and critical attention it merits. Since becoming American entails adopting the racial norms and sentiments of the U.S., I explore how African immigrants contend with the process of racialization that is part and parcel of the American experience. Drawing on Baldwin’s idea of blackness as an ethical category, I also consider the limits of the concept of Afropolitanism to characterize the new wave of African immigrants in the U.S.
The poor survival rate of primary sources for the history of Irish women in the
early modern period is mitigated by the sophistication with which extant sources
are now being analysed. When re-examined without reference to the demands of the
traditional historical grand narrative, when each text itself is permitted to
guide its own interrogation, previously undervalued texts are revealed to be
insightful of individual existential experience. The memoir of
eighteenth-century Dorothea Herbert, hitherto much ignored due to the authors
mental illness, is becoming increasingly respected not just for its historic
evidential value but for the revelations it contains of a distressed individuals
use of literature to manage her circumstances. The interpretive tools deployed
on such a text by different research specialisms necessarily lead to divergent
conclusions; this in turn may lead to creative re-imagining of history although
they cannot all equally reflect what was likely to have been the lived reality
of the original author.
The theological energies released by Martin Luther in 1517 created a set of
theological insights and problems that eventually led to the development of
kenotic Christology (i. e., the view that in order for the Son of God to become
incarnate and live a genuinely human life, he emptied himself of his divine
prerogatives or attributes). This article traces how kenotic Christology
originated in the Eucharistic Controversy between Luther and Zwingli, before
receiving its first extensive treatment in the debate between the Lutheran
theologians of Tübingen and Giessen in,the early seventeenth century. Attention
then turns to the nine-teenth century, when doctrinal tensions resulting from
the enforced union of the Prussian Lutheran and Reformed churches created the
conditions for a new flowering of kenotic Christology in the theologies of Ernst
Sartorius and, subsequently, Gottfried Thomasius. Kenotic Christology ultimately
originates with Luther, however, for it owes its existence to the creative
theological energies he unleashed and which remain his lasting legacy.
This article explores the contributions of women scholars, writers and artists to
our understanding of the medieval past. Beginning with a contemporary artists
book by Liz Mathews that draws on one of Boethius‘s Latin lyrics from the
Consolation of Philosophy as translated by Helen Waddell, it traces a network of
medieval women scholars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries associated
with Manchester and the John Rylands Library, such as Alice Margaret Cooke and
Mary Bateson. It concludes by examining the translation of the Old English poem,
The Wife‘s Lament, by contemporary poet, Eavan Boland. The art of Liz Mathews
and poetry of Eavan Boland and the scholarship of women like Alice Cooke, Mary
Bateson, Helen Waddell and Eileen Power show that women‘s writing of the past –
creative, public, scholarly – forms a strand of an archive of women‘s history
that is still being put together.
Post-9/11 Aesthetics of Uncertainty in PlayDead‘s Limbo (2010)
This paper explores the Gothic videogame Limbo (PlayDead, 2010) in terms of an aesthetic and conceptual precariousness and preoccupation with uncertainty that, I suggest, are particularly associated with the traumatic legacy of 9/11. It engages with Judith Butler s post-9/11 reflections in her work Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (2004) on the loss of presumed safety and security in the First World. From here, she expresses the potential for shared experiences of vulnerability to inaugurate an ethics of relationality, without recourse to investment in systems of security. I then contrast this with an alternative critical trajectory that emphasises the use-value of such systems over a desire for moral purity. This critical framework is considered in relation to the treatment of vulnerability in Limbo, through its construction of a dialogic relationship between its diegetic game-world and the formal structure of its game-system. The former is found to articulate a pervasive experience of uncertainty, whilst the latter provides a sense of security. I draw upon psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott‘s theories of play and creative living to argue that the tension between game-world and game-system in Limbo creates a model of how uncertainty can be dwelt with, through a precarious balance between the use of systems of security and disengagement from them.