In Alien3 Lt Ellen Ripley finds herself in a nightmare scenario. She has crash-landed on an abandoned prison planet, ‘Fury 161’, surrounded by a remnant of the inmate population (twenty-five prisoners, a medical officer and two administrators who have opted to remain in a care-taking capacity after the prison/refinery was closed). The prisoners are a violent group of rapists and murderers with double-y chromosome coding, who can only seem to control their excessive expressions of masculinity by fanatically embracing a fundamentalist religion. Ripley sums up the group as ‘a bunch of lifers who found God at the ass-end of space’. On one level, this setting begs for a story of male homosexuality: an all-male prison planet filled with sexual aggressors could be the recipe for a gay male porn classic. Instead, it becomes a tale of excessive masculinity manifested through heterosexual fears and desires. I want to take this discrepancy between homo-possibilities and hetero-manifestations as my point of departure to explore how Alien3s engagement with the Gothic diverts and expresses anxieties about queer masculinity, desire, and sexuality.
The author reviews Barry Jenkins’s 2018 film adaptation of
Baldwin’s novel, If Beale Street Could Talk, finding
that Jenkins’s lush, painterly, and dreamlike visual style successfully
translates Baldwin’s cadenced prose into cinematic language. But in
interpreting the novel as the “perfect fusion” of the anger of
Baldwin’s essays and the sensuality of his fiction, Jenkins overlooks the
novel’s most significant aspect, its gender politics. Baldwin began
working on If Beale Street Could Talk shortly after being
interviewed by Black Arts poet Nikki Giovanni for the PBS television show,
Soul!. Giovanni’s rejection of Baldwin’s
claims that for black men to overcome the injuries of white supremacy they
needed to fulfill the breadwinner role prompted him to rethink his understanding
of African American manhood and deeply influenced his representation of the
novel’s black male characters. The novel aims to disarticulate black
masculinity from patriarchy. Jenkins’s misunderstanding of this aspect of
the novel surfaces in his treatment of the character of Frank, who in the novel
serves as an example of the destructiveness of patriarchal masculinity, and in
his rewriting of the novel’s ending.
This article examines Pat Barker‘s novel Another World (1998) in order to argue that it portrays the masculine subject as precarious and unstable. This is linked to the novels regional setting, in which traditional ‘heavy’ industries such as armaments manufacturing are in decline, thus depriving men of an authoritative public and private role. Viewed from the perspective of postfeminism, this might be regarded as a sign that male (and female) roles can be renegotiated in order to achieve greater gender equality. However, Barker‘s frequent references to Gothic texts renders this crisis sinister and uncanny. This paper uses references to Nicolas Abraham‘s essay ‘Notes on the Phantom’ in order to assert that Another World‘s preoccupation with murder and haunting reveals a compulsive desire to cover up this sense of ‘lack’ that Barker implies characterises modern masculine subjectivity.
The Virgin Mary and the formation
of Victorian masculinities
ictorian religion was, at the official level, largely a masculine
enterprise. In neither church nor chapel (with a few exceptions)
could women preach or hold positions of authority; their role in
religious assemblies as in the home was to support male authority. The
clergy would appear to have been well-positioned to take advantage of the
religious endorsement of masculine authority, given the sanction of their
profession as well as their sex. However, in the nineteenth century clerical
Applying Butler‘s gender performance theory and critiquing authoritative philosophical discourse on the sublime, the essay examines the Gothic sublime as phantasmatic masculine drag. Focusing on Walpole‘s flamboyant flouting of Longinus‘s rhetorical prescriptions, the essay also explores how The Castle ofOtrantos fictional progeny continue to drag sublimity into Gothic drag king performances.
This paper explores the role and function of the Marvel film‘s Loki as a Gothic
antagonist. Loki‘s characterisation incorporates several Gothic themes. As a shapeshifter,
he corresponds with the idea of the unstable and fragmented body, also found in Gothic
texts dealing with supernatural transformations. By breaking down the barriers between the
realms of Asgard, Earth and Jotunheim, Loki engages with tropes surrounding Gothic space,
where borders and boundaries are permeable. Finally, Loki is Othered by his association
with the feminine and queer Gothic, something that ultimately leads to another common
Gothic theme, that of madness.
Movies speak mainly to the eyes. Though they started talking in words some seventy years ago, what they say to our ears seldom overpowers or even matches the impact of what they show us. This essay proposes to read one more time the issue of homosexuality in Mary Shelley‘s first novel, Frankenstein. In order to offer a new angle on the homosexual component of Victor Frankenstein‘s relationship with his creature when next teaching this most canonical Romantic novel, this essay considers Shelley‘s work alongside four film adaptations: James Whale‘s 1931 Frankenstein, Whale‘s 1935 The Bride of Frankenstein, Richard O’Briens 1975 The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Kenneth Branagh‘s 1994 Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein. These films present their audience with original readings of their source material, readings that can be questioned with regards to their lack of truthfulness to the original works themes and characters.
Manliness and Mesmerism in Richard Marsh‘s The
Through an analysis of Richard Marsh‘s The Beetle (1897), this article explores a link
between the practice of mesmerism and Victorian insecurities about the state of
masculinity. It argues that The Beetle attempts– through the characterisation of mesmeric
power as a dangerous virile energy and suggestibility to trance as effeminate and
degenerate– to make a clear but highly unstable distinction between ideal and deviant
forms of masculinity. In the process, Marsh‘s novel illuminates a complex relationship
between the permeability of mind, body, and nation that paradoxically serves to both
uphold and undermine the virility of the British male subject.
A Review of Hilton Als’ God Made My Face: A Collective
Portrait of James Baldwin
This essay reviews Hilton Als’ 2019 exhibition God Made My Face: A
Collective Portrait of James Baldwin at the David Zwirner Gallery.
The show visually displays Baldwin in two parts: “A Walker in the
City” examines his biography and “Colonialism” examines
“what Baldwin himself was unable to do” by displaying the work of
contemporary artists and filmmakers whose works resonate with Baldwin’s
critiques of masculinity, race, and American empire. Mirakhor explores how
Als’ quest to restore Baldwin is part of a long and deep literary and
personal conversation that Als has been having since he was in his teens, and in
this instance, exploring why and how it has culminated via the visual, instead
of the literary. As Mirakhor observes, to be in the exhibit is not to just
observe how Als has formed and figured Baldwin, but to see how Baldwin has
informed and made Als, one of our most lyrical and impassioned contemporary
writers and thinkers.
Aquarium Colonies and Nineteenth-Century Narratives of Marine Monstrosity
In this essay the author proposes that a detailed study of the context of the production and reception of the spate of best-selling marine natural history books published in the 1850s provides an important and neglected opportunity for understanding Victorian conceptions of evolutionary,and anthropological monstrosity. Whilst the ape has received a good deal of attention as the primary evolutionary icon, through which the Victorians dreamed their nightmares of descent, the marine invertebrate has been much neglected. However, represented by evolutionists as the first life forms on the planet from which all higher life forms had evolved, marine invertebrates were an important alternative evolutionary ancestor, and were used to express ideas about the `nature of class, race and masculinity‘.