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’.
Evil, Privation and the Absent Logos in Richard Marsh‘s The
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
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.
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.
concept of ‘stigmaphilia in a minor key’ to describe a particular creative or critical position which ‘deliberately draws close to the textures of pain, shame, and wounds, both stigma and stigmata’. 3 The term ‘stigmaphilia’ entered queer theory and disability studies as part of a joyful, transgressive reclamation of stigmatised positions as a substratum for resistance. 4 This process is vital and defiant and necessary. At times, however, it may mean that ‘painful and traumatic dimensions … have been minimised or disavowed’, as Heather Love warns, and ‘makes it harder
Gothic, as a creative medium and a way of seeing, allows us to question human ability to control events, people or even places. Any inquiry into human and nonhuman interaction is disturbing when control disintegrates, especially in the apparent safety of gardens, designed as areas of human dominance over wild nature, yet creating opportunities for uncanny deeds and presences. This collection is a unique interrogation of nineteenth-century gardens, literary and real, examining their many abilities to support and distort human–nonhuman material
Bodies dis(re)membered: Gothic and the transplant imaginary
fantasy and haunting. 122 Primarily, however, this book examines British and American Gothic alongside scientific and legislative developments within these countries that paralleled these creative works. An even broader international scope would risk irresponsibly simplifying subtleties of legislation, economics, tissue procurement practice, and healthcare economies, and reinforce the misleading view that disordered transfer is exclusively an issue in non-Western contexts.
Cross-border transfer is far from the only aspect of tissue transfer characterised by
Transnational harvest horror and racial vulnerability at the turn of the millennium
, however – which again locates the predation fundamentally elsewhere than the recipient’s home site – I will use the remainder of this chapter to problematise the distancing move that defensively situates predation as occurring elsewhere. I will examine North American and UK harvest horror, inflected by the transgenerational legacies of colonialism and slavery. As in Padmanabhan’s play, these creative works present organ predation as hallucinatory mimesis, symbolic of wider structural oppression and slow violence in which Black and Indigenous People of Colour may be
Uncanny assemblage and embodied scripts in tissue recipient horror
. Shildrick, S. Abbey, O. Mauthner, M. Gewarges, and H. Ross, ‘Getting ready and then keeping quiet’, Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation , 33:4 (2014), S222–S223 .
14 Shaw, ‘Ethical risks’, pp. 61–2.
15 Shildrick et al. , ‘Messy entanglements’, p. 8.
16 T. Parsons, The Social System (London: Routledge,  1952) ; A. Clarke, L. Mamo, J. Fishman, J. Shim, and J. Fosket, ‘Biomedicalisation’, American Sociological Review , 68 (2003), 161–94 .
17 S. Wasson, ‘Creative manifesto’, Translating Chronic Pain , AHRC-funded Research Network (2017), wp.lancs.ac.uk/translatingpain/creative
/natural delineations. And these powers will return next spring, if not before (and likely in new forms in the Anthropocene's obscene ecoGothic).
Unlike Eichendorff's gardens that function as a site of the deadly pagan goddess's recurring reawakening, gardens in Goethe's Elective Affinities function instead as the site for creatively bored aristocrats to set the stage for their own death, to fall prey to deterministic natural forces of attraction, and to end up in a harrowing fate not as poets who represent but as representations themselves (in, for example