Stefania Forlini

This paper examines how the reconfiguration of embodiment at the end of the nineteenth century provides Charlotte Mew with a powerful trope of disembodiment which she employs to inscribe a new kind of body in her short story, ‘Passed’- a body which allows the expression of lesbian desire. The ‘reconfiguration of embodiment’ discussed in this essay is, more specifically, the result of the emergence of the ‘machinic-human body’ (a precursor to the post-human at this time). This paper discusses how this machinic-human body ‘which is Gothic or ‘abhuman’ as the term is employed by Kelly Hurley in her book, The Gothic Body is linked to Mew‘s use of erasure, silence, death, and out-of-body-experience, and how Mew employs erasure of the printed word, and death of the heterosexual body to encode a new body, with ‘new’ desires. In ‘Passed’, text and body are intimately linked such that within the world of the story erasure of the written word is associated with the erasure of the heterosexual body, and this very erasure enacts an encoding of a homosexual one. At the same time, of course, it is Mew‘s use of print that allows the erasure and encoding that is the work of the story.

Gothic Studies