In The Mysteries of Udolpho, characters practice science in home
laboratories, libraries, green houses and gardens, using observation,
instruments, and books to study botany, astronomy, and chemistry. By integrating
these moments of everyday science into her novels - and making them integral to
the development of her heroines - Ann Radcliffe presents a landscape in which
both reason and sensibility are enlisted to gather and process information and
create meaning in a way that echoed the popular scientific discourse of the day.
To date, there has been no sustained study of Radcliffe’s incorporation of
scientific practice and rhetoric into her Gothic novels. By looking closely at
the scientific engagement within her texts, we can broaden the basis for
understanding her work as a part of the broader culture that not only included,
but was in many ways predicated upon the shifting landscape of science at the
end of the eighteenth century.
Scholars of eighteenth-century literature have long seen the development of the
Gothic as a break from neoclassical aesthetics, but this article posits a more
complex engagement with classical imitation at the origins of the genre. In
Horace Walpole’s formative Gothic novel The Castle of Otranto,
his Gothic drama The Mysterious Mother, and in the curiosities
in his villa, classical elements are detached from their contexts and placed in
startling and strange juxtapositions. His tendency towards the fragmentation of
ancient culture, frequently expressed through the imagery of dismemberment,
suggests an aesthetic not of imitation, but of collection. Moreover, rather than
abandoning or ignoring the classical, Walpole reconfigures literary history to
demonstrate elements of monstrosity and hybridity already present in Greek and
Contesting the ‘Female Gothic’ in Charlotte Dacre‘s Zofloya
Carol Margaret Davison
Taking Charlotte Dacre‘s unique and controversial novel, Zofloya; Or The Moor (1806), as its focal point, this essay takes stock of the strengths and limitations of the major theoretical engagements with the ‘Female Gothic’ under its diverse appellations, and consider them in terms of the history of Gothic theory more generally.
Mourning and Melancholia in Female Gothic, 1780–1800
Wright explores how novels by Eliza Fenwick, Sophia Lee, Maria Roche, and Ann Radcliffe critique, via their fascination with portraiture, eighteenth-century consumerism. Wright argues that this engagement with image-making indicates late eighteenth century concerns with fashion, opulence and consumerism which become relocated in women‘s Gothic writing through the correlated issues of female insanity, desire and loss.
Antonio Fogazzaro‘s Malombra combines features of the Gothic novel with an interest in the environment, natural and artificial. The story of a woman who lives in a Palazzo and believes she is the reincarnation of her late ancestor unfolds a narrative constantly engaged with the issues of place and space. Human and nonhuman features play a significant role in the narrative within whose complex and intricate setting the characters interact. By focusing on the main character‘s engagement with the surrounding world the article aims at shedding a new light on the long discussed issues of double identity, showing how the novel portrays instead a symbiotic relationship with the environment.
In recent criticism, Jane Austen‘s Northanger Abbey has been reconsidered as a comic
rather than mock-Gothic novel, shifting its mockery onto a variety of other targets:
domineering men, unwary readers, the violence underpinning English domesticity. I argue
that Austen continues her engagement with the Gothic, beyond Northanger Abbey, using Emma
as an exemplary case. Emma not only includes explicit mentions of Gothic novels such as
Ann Radcliffe‘s The Romance of the Forest, but implicitly reformulates the relationships
between Female Gothic figures: finding a frail, victimised heroine in Jane Fairfax and a
seductive femme fatale in Emma herself.
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.
American zombie Gothic films have changed markedly in their tone, style, and structure
since September 11, an evolution that expands the Gothic mode to include the mobility of
the narratives protagonists, a popularisation of the movies, and an increased engagement
with a multi-ethnic international community. To remain timely, relevant, and commercially
viable, such alterations must occur, and these shifts in particular can best be explained
by the changing cinematic marketplace, the influence of videogames, and the policies and
anxieties resulting from the (inter)national trauma of 9/11 and the War on Terror. This
essay examines the film version of World War Z as a key text for exploring the current
transition from a localised siege narrative to an international kind of road trip movie, a
shift largely tied to the popularity of zombie-themed videogames.
This article examines the post-millennial popularity of the found footage movie, in particular its engagement with the representational codes of non-fiction media. Whilst the majority of critical writings on found footage identify the 11 September attacks on the World Trade Centre as a key visual referent, they too often dwell on the literal re-enactment of the event. This article instead suggests that these films evoke fear by mimicking the aesthetic and formal properties of both mainstream news coverage and amateur recording. As such they create both ontological and epistemological confusion as to the reality of the events depicted. Rather than merely replicating the imagery of terror/ism, these films achieve their terrifying effects by mimicking the audiences media spectatorship of such crisis.
Gothic Continuities, Feminism and Postfeminism in the Neo-Gothic Film
The article seeks to explore questions of fictional female victimhood by examining feminist and post-feminist critical engagements with the Gothic heroine figure. The paper traces instances of this figure in literary and filmic versions of the ‘female gothic’ narrative, focusing in particular on the female gothic film cycle of the 1940s, in films such as Rebecca (1940) and Suspicion (1941), and the cycles recurrence in more contemporary female-addressed suspense thrillers, such as Deceived (1991), Sleeping with the Enemy (1991), Shadow of Doubt (1998), and What Lies Beneath (2000). The paper reveals that the neo-gothic heroine condenses key issues pertinent to shifts in feminist and post-feminist critique, such as woman-as-victim, negotiations about the meanings of femininity, and the relationship between women and domestic space.