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Objects, disciplines and the Manchester Museum

At the turn of the nineteenth century, museums in Europe and North America were at their largest and most powerful. New buildings were bigger; objects flooded into them, and more people visited them than ever before. The Manchester Museum is an ideal candidate for understanding cultures of display in twentieth-century Britain. It is a treasure trove of some four million priceless objects that are irreplaceable and unique. Like many large European collections, the origins of the Manchester Museum are to be found in a private cabinet: that of John Leigh Philips. This book traces the fate of his cabinet from his death in 1814. The establishment of the Manchester Natural History Society (MNHS) allowed naturalists to carve out a space in Manchester's cultural landscape. The Manchester Museum's development was profoundly affected by the history of the University in which it operated. In January 1868, the Natural History Society formally dissolved, and an interim commission took control of its collections; the Manchester Geological Society transferred its collections the following year. The new collection was to be purely scientific, comprising geology, zoology and botany, with no place for some of the more exotic specimens of the Society. The objects in the collection became part of Manchester's civic identity, bringing with them traces of science, empire and the exotic. Other museological changes were afoot in the 1990s. Natural history collections became key sites for public engagement with environmental issues and biodiversity and more recently as sites for exhibiting art.

Vampires and the Spectre of Miscegenation

This article explores the trend in contemporary vampire media to highlight racially-charged issues, demonstrating a consciousness of the way the vampire has been used in conjunction with racial stigmatisation. While the traditional figure of the vampire spoke strongly to late nineteenth-,and early twentieth-century white American fears of miscegenation, I argue that some contemporary vampire narratives, such as Blade (1998), Underworld (2003), and True Blood (2008-), rewrite the figure in order to question and/or undo,the link between ‘monstrosity’ and racial otherness. Central to this task is not only the repositioning and characterisation of the vampire, but also — considering that the female body was once perceived as the locus for racial purity — that of the heroine.

Gothic Studies

Since 2005 Tim Burton’s imagination has frequently turned to Victorian-related subjects. Focusing primarily on Corpse Bride (2005), Sweeney Todd (2007) and Alice in Wonderland (2010), this article argues that Burton’s response to (neo-) Victorian culture is a distinctly Gothic one. Unlike other more literary and canonical types of neo-Victorianism it engages with the popular and strongly Gothicised conceptions of the Victorian that emerged through the horror cinema of the twentieth century. It is also Gothic in the way that it self-consciously blends the Victorian with other cultural trends. As a result, rather than offering a strongly theorised, academic view of the Victorians, Burton remediates them for his own aesthetic purposes.

Gothic Studies

In Shirley Jackson‘s novel The Haunting of Hill House, the tropes of haunting, telepathy, and clairvoyance serve to remind us that there is more to alterity than the shattering of the autos. In Jackson‘s novel, these tropes lead us to reconsider what we mean by subjectivity for, beyond the question of consciousness, they also destabilize what Sonu Shamdasani refers to as the “singular notion of the ‘unconscious’ that has dominated twentieth century thought,” especially via Freudian psychoanalysis. By drawing upon Carl Jung‘s theory of synchronicity in relation to quantum theory, this paper argues that Jackson‘s novel challenges certain classical models of human consciousness and subjectivity as well as psychoanalytic models of interpretation.

Gothic Studies

In his analysis of the evolution of sexuality in society in Making Sexual History, Jeffrey Weeks comments that, following a series of major challenges throughout the twentieth century (ranging from Freud‘s work to the challenges of feminism and queer politics), ‘sexuality becomes a source of meaning, of social and political placing, and of individual sense of self ’. This special issue of Gothic Studies intends to foster further research on the topic of queer sexuality. This is research which has already been underway for some time but it has not always been interdisciplinary in nature, as is the case for these five articles, in their discussion of theatre, cinema, and literature or literary conventions borrowed from Gothic novels.

Gothic Studies
or, The Self-Possessed Child

The late twentieth century is fascinated by the phenomenon of the gothic child, the child who manifests evil, violence, and sexual aggression. On the face of it, this evil is “caused” by either medical or social factors: medicinal drugs, radiation, or the corrupting influences,of political others. However, this essay argues that the gothic child actually arises from conflicting forces of child-philosophies, the intersection of Romantic childhood innocence with Freudian depth models. These models tacitly point to a child that “is” rather than “is,made”, a child that belies contemporary parental attempts to make it be otherwise. Moreover, the idea that the child is somehow immune to parental influence – that it is self-possessed rather than possessed by another – extends to the current notion of,the “inner child”, that “self” who is the seat of identity and coherence. Because of this, the gothic as often fantasizes the killing of the “child within” as it revels in killing the child without.

Gothic Studies
Postfeminist Vampirism in Margaret Atwood‘s The Robber Bride

The article examines Margaret Atwood‘s The Robber Bride in terms of Gothic imagery and postfeminist politics. The novel depicts three characteristically second wave women whose lives are disrupted by Zenia, the embodiment of postfeminism. Zenia threatens the stability of the women and they respond to her with both loathing and desire, experiencing her as a vampire feeding on their lives. The Robber Bride connects the subversive power of Gothic to the multiple identities, transgressions and instabilities of postfeminism. Using a common second wave feminist psychoanalytic rereading of Gothic terror as fear of confinement, I suggest that Atwood‘s depiction of Zenia as a Gothic figure points to some concerns about second wave feminist politics. The location of Zenia as both Self and Other raises questions about postfeminisms situation as a reactionary backlash against feminism, and equally as a liberal politics that many late twentieth-century women were increasingly identifying with.

Gothic Studies
The fate of Namibian skulls in the Alexander Ecker Collection in Freiburg

This article explores the history of the Alexander Ecker Collection and situates it within the larger trajectory of global collecting of human remains during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This is then linked to the specific context of the genocide in then German South West Africa (1904–8), with the central figure of Eugen Fischer. The later trajectory of the collection leads up to the current issues of restitution. The Freiburg case is instructive since it raises issues about the possibilities and limitations of provenance research. At the same time, the actual restitution of fourteen human remains in 2014 occurred in a way that sparked serious conflict in Namibia which is still on-going four years later. In closing, exigencies as well as pressing needs in connection with the repatriation and (where possible) rehumanisation of human remains are discussed.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
The Early Promise and Disappointing Career of Time-Lapse Photography

Time-lapse photography—the extremely accelerated recording and projection of an event taking place over an extended duration of time—is almost as old as the movies themselves. (The first known use of time-lapse dates from 1898.) In the early decades of the twentieth century, cineastes, not to mention scientists, artists, and poets, waxed eloquently on the promise of time-lapse photography as a means for revealing “things we cannot see,” and expanding human perception. This essay examines time-lapses tremendous initial imaginative appeal for such figures as Ernst Mach, Germaine Dulac, Jean Epstein, Rudolf Arnheim, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and Collette, and speculates about the possible reasons for its diminution over the course of the century.

Film Studies
Rape and Marriage in Go Tell It on the Mountain

To consider how James Baldwin resisted racialized notions of sexuality in his first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, I employ a number of black feminist critics—including Saidiya Hartman, Patricia Williams, Hortense Spillers, and Patricia Hill Collins—to analyze three under-studied minor characters: Deborah, Esther, and Richard. Those three characters are best understood as figures of heterosexual nonconformity who articulate sophisticated and important critiques of rape and marriage in America at the turn of the twentieth century. Baldwin thus wrote subversive theories of race and sexuality into the margins of the novel, making its style inextricable from its politics. Baldwin’s use of marginal voices was a deft and intentional artistic choice that was emancipatory for his characters and that remains enduringly relevant to American sexual politics. In this particularly polarizing transition from the Obama era to the Donald J. Trump presidency, I revisit Baldwin’s ability to subtly translate political ideas across fault lines like race, nationality, and sex.

James Baldwin Review