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Author: Nicholas Royle

This book provides a lucid, wide-ranging and up-to-date critical introduction to the writings of Hélène Cixous (1937–). Cixous is often considered ‘difficult’. Moreover she is extraordinarily prolific, having published dozens of books, essays, plays and other texts. Royle avoids any pretence of a comprehensive survey, instead offering a rich and diverse sampling. At once expository and playful, original and funny, this micrological approach enables a new critical understanding and appreciation of Cixous’s writing. If there is complexity in her work, Royle suggests, there is also uncanny simplicity and great pleasure. The book focuses on key motifs such as dreams, the supernatural, literature, psychoanalysis, creative writing, realism, sexual differences, laughter, secrets, the ‘Mother unconscious’, drawing, painting, autobiography as ‘double life writing’, unidentifiable literary objects (ULOs), telephones, non-human animals, telepathy and the ‘art of cutting’. Particular stress is given to Cixous’s work in relation to Sigmund Freud and Jacques Derrida, as well as to her importance in the context of ‘English literature’. There are close readings of Shakespeare, Emily Brontë, P. B. Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Lewis Carroll, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, for example, alongside in-depth explorations of her own writings, from Inside (1969) and ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’ (1975) up to the present. Royle’s book will be of particular interest to students and academics coming to Cixous’s work for the first time, but it will also appeal to readers interested in contemporary literature, creative writing, life writing, narrative theory, deconstruction, psychoanalysis, feminism, queer theory, ecology, drawing and painting.

Evil, Privation and the Absent Logos in Richard Marsh‘s The Beetle
Simon Marsden

This essay explores the influence of the theological tradition of privation theory upon Richard Marsh‘s novel The Beetle (1897). Focusing on images of ontological nothingness, corruption and uncreation, it argues that the novel employs the concept of privation both in its depiction of the supernatural Other and in its parallel interrogation of its contemporary modernity. Imagery of privation in the novel is associated not only with the Beetle itself, but with the modern urban environment and weapons of mass destruction. The essay concludes by examining the corruption of language and absence of a creative logos able to respond adequately to the privations of the modern city and industrial economy.

Gothic Studies
Anne Young

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’.

Gothic Studies
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.

Gothic Studies
Open Access (free)
Encounters in America
Dagmawi Woubshet

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.

James Baldwin Review
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Post-9/11 Aesthetics of Uncertainty in PlayDead‘s Limbo (2010)
Graeme Pedlingham

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.

Gothic Studies
Victoria Joule

In this article I demonstrate the significance of a flexible approach to examining the autobiographical in early eighteenth-century womens writing. Using ‘old stories’, existing and developing narrative and literary forms, womens autobiographical writing can be discovered in places other than the more recognizable forms such as diaries and memoirs. Jane Barker and Delarivier Manley‘s works are important examples of the dynamic and creative use of cross-genre autobiographical writing. The integration of themselves in their fictional and poetic works demonstrates the potential of generic fluidity for innovative ways to express and explore the self in textual forms.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Jane Maxwell

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.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
David R. Law

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.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Clare A. Lees

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.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library