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.
the expression in the past. The concept itself clearly derives from theological discourse; I shall suggest that its adaptation into popular belief may represent a pragmatic, creative response to increasing anxieties in interpreting supposed visions of and encounters with a supernatural other world, first in an era of growing clerical hegemony actively hostile to lay attempts to engage with occult powers and ever more concerned about the dangers of Satanic paction, then, subsequently, at a time of growing disbelief and derision concerning the very existence of such
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is one of the most popular novels in western literature. It has been adapted and re-assembled in countless forms, from Hammer Horror films to young-adult books and bandes dessinées. Beginning with the idea of the ‘Frankenstein Complex’, this edited collection provides a series of creative readings that explore the elaborate intertextual networks that make up the novel’s remarkable afterlife. It broadens the scope of research on Frankenstein while deepening our understanding of a text that, 200 years after its original publication, continues to intrigue and terrify us in new and unexpected ways.
This is the first edited collection of essays which focuses on the incest taboo
and its literary and cultural presentation from the 1950s to the present day; it
considers a number of authors rather than a single author from this period. This
study discusses the impact of this change in attitudes on literature and
literary adaptations in the latter half of the twentieth century, and early
years of the twenty-first century. Although primarily concerned with fiction,
the collection includes work on television and film. This collection will
enhance the growing academic interest in trauma narratives and taboo-literature,
offering a useful contribution to a fast-evolving field of artistic criticism
which is concerned with the relationship between social issues and creativity.
Authors discussed include Iain Banks, A.S. Byatt, Angela Carter, Simone de
Beauvoir, Ted Hughes, Doris Lessing, Ian McEwan Iris Murdoch, Vladimir Nabokov,
Andrea Newman and Pier Pasolini and Sylvia Plath.
The Frankenstein Complex: when the text is more than a text
Dennis R. Cutchins and Dennis R. Perry
novel’s recognition that any time a created thing becomes a sentient being, capable of thinking for itself, complications will inevitably arise. Shelley could not have imagined, however, the technology-saturated culture we now live in or the ways it has forced us to adapt ourselves, and, in turn, continually to adapt Frankenstein .
Understanding the proliferation of Frankenstein adaptations, including many made for young audiences, demands a creative and broad approach. Totalising mythic and topical readings of Frankenstein , popular in the
conventions, and the necessity of those challenges, the celebratory
excess, carnival and creative potential, the fundamental testing of
established norms, possible through queer theory in action in gay- and
lesbian-oriented vampire and werewolf tales. Identity, classification
and control are key elements here. The chapter will focus in the main on
Melanie Tem’s lesbian werewolf tale ‘Wilding’ (1996),
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