Recent criticism has increasingly asserted the centrality of gothic in the Canadian canon, and explicitly gothic conceptions of the forested and frozen North inform several of Margaret Atwood‘s novels, poems, essays and short stories. Her haunted wilderness settings are sites for the negotiation of identity and power relationships. This essay focuses on her 1970 poem sequence The Journals of Susanna Moodie and her short story `Death by Landscape (from her 1991 Wilderness Tips collection), considering them in relation to critical models of postcolonial gothic.
Film theorists and philosophers have both contended that narrative fiction films
cannot present philosophical arguments. After canvassing a range of objections to
this claim, this article defends the view that films are able to present
philosophical thought experiments that can function as enthymemic arguments. An
interpretation of Michel Gondry‘s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) is
given in which the films criticism of the technology of memory erasure is just such a
thought experiment, one that functions as a counter-example to utilitarianism as a
theory for the justification of social practices.
This article examines the prevalence of Gothic in contemporary culture and criticism. It suggests that the description Gothic’ has become widespread in the aftermath of Derrida‘s work Spectres of Marx and that this threatens to undermine Gothics usefulness as a critical category. In examining contemporary culture it identifies the notions of trauma and mourning in the popular imagination as having contributed to a condition where Gothic no longer expresses the anxiety of the fragmented subject, but reaches towards a valorisation of damaged subjectivity.
In the early years of the twentieth century, Professor Karl Lamprecht was a
powerful and controversial figure in German academia, offering a universal
interpretation of history that drew on an eclectic mix of politics, economics,
anthropology and psychology. This article explores Mark Hovell’s
experiences of working with Lamprecht at the Institut für Kultur- und
Universalgeschichte [Institute for Cultural and Universal History] in Leipzig
between 1912 and 1913, while also situating Hovell’s criticisms of the
Lamprechtian method within wider contemporary assessments of Lamprecht’s
The intellectual connection between James Baldwin and Lionel Trilling, and the resonances
across their criticism, are more substantial than scholarly and biographical treatments
have disclosed. For Trilling, Baldwin’s writings were notable for their deviation from
most humanistic inquiry, which he considered insufficiently alert to the harms and
depredations of culture. Baldwin’s work became for Trilling a promising indication that
American criticism could be remade along the lines of a tragic conception of culture
deriving from Freud. This essay concentrates on a relevant but neglected dynamic in
American letters—the mid-twentieth-century tension between Freudian thought and American
humanistic inquiry evident in fields like American Studies—to explain the intellectual
coordinates within which Trilling developed an affinity for Baldwin’s work. The
essay concludes by suggesting that the twilight of Freud’s tragic conception of
culture, which figured centrally in the modernist critical environment in which
Baldwin and Trilling encountered one another, contributed to an estrangement whereby the
two came to be seen as unrelated and different kinds of critics, despite the consonance of
their critical idioms during the 1940s and 1950s.
The criticism of Shelley‘s ‘The Triumph of Life’ now makes up a small library of its own, though the status of the poem as a fragment yet precludes any final closure of commentary. The article proposes that criticism of the ‘Triumph’ falls between two poles. One view, of which Paul De Man is representative, sees the Shelley of his final poem as mature, becoming skeptical of romantic uses of the language of the uncanny. The other, of which Ross Woodman is representative, sees him finally as a fascinated believer in the supernatural and transcendent. This paper argues that the poem might be better seen as a complex and subtle mixing of these two frames, a skeptical fascination that relies on Shelley‘s refined use of the Gothic mode in the poem. This unstable frame results in an evaluation of Rousseau‘s philosophy as a form of truth flawed by desire, and a counterfeit ghost of the originating ideas when it reaches the public sphere. Seen this way, Shelley places Rousseau‘s ‘shape all light’ within a pantheon of other great figures of world history as an idealist who was made into a gothic cult by those in power.
Colonising Europe in Bram Stoker‘s The Lady of the Shroud
Postcolonial criticism is preoccupied for the most part with the implications and the cultural consequences of European interference in a vaguely delineated territory which could best be termed `the East‘. This statement, which might justifiably be regarded as being simplistic, provocative or even mischievous, must however be acknowledged as having some currency as a criticism of an occluded though still discernible impasse within an otherwise vibrant and progressive critical discourse. The postcolonial debate is, to borrow a phrase from Gerry Smyth, both characterised and inhibited by a `violent, dualistic logic‘ which perpetuates an ancient, exclusive dichotomy between the West and its singular Other. In practical terms, this enforces a critical discourse which opposes the cultural and textual power of the West through the textuality of Africa, Asia and the Far East rather than and at the expense of the equally colonised terrains of the Americas and Australasia. This is not to say that critical writings on these latter theatres of Empire do not exist, but rather to suggest that they are somehow less valued in a critical discourse which at times appears,to be confused by the potentially more complex diametrics implied in the existence of a North and a South.
The role played by Fantasmagoriana in the genesis of
Frankenstein and The Vampyre has largely
prevented the full critical appreciation of this work in its original context of
production, i.e. the French market of supernatural anthologies in the early
nineteenth century, paving the way to the so-called frénétique
vogue. By analysing a manuscript appendix to Fantasmagoriana,
drafted between the mid-1820s and the mid-1830s and bound within a copy formerly
belonging to the Roman family Gabrielli-Bonaparte, this article reinstates
Fantasmagoriana within the environment of Napoleonic and
post-Napoleonic culture and its renewed interest in the supernatural. Whereas
English-speaking criticism has normally approached
Fantasmagoriana through Tales of the Dead,
i.e. Sarah Utterson’s Gothicizing and partial translation of 1813, an analysis
of Fantasmagoriana from the point of view of its original readership will enable
us to rethink the specificities of the French Gothic beyond Anglocentric
The Self, the Social Order and the Trouble with Sympathy in the Romantic and Post-Modern Gothic
This essay is about the figure of the double in Romantic and post-modern Gothic literature and film. Most criticism of the double interprets this figure from the perspective of psychoanalysis. In contrast, this essay embeds the double in cultural history. In discussions of eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century discourses of ‘possessive individualism’, nationalism, and sexuality, this essay contends that the eighteenth century and the Romantic Period became dissatisfied with sympathy: with its inability to unify the social order without dissolving the crucial differences that distinguish one person from another. In response, Gothic literature invented the double to represent an extreme moment when two characters think, act, and feel so much alike that they can no longer be distinguished from each other. The essay offers two examples: Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein and Ridley Scott‘s Blade Runner.
A Recombinant Pygmalion for the Twenty-First Century
As a gothic iteration of Ovid‘s Pygmalion myth, the television show ‘Dark Angel’ demonstrates how anxiety over the laboratory creation of people persists in popular culture. The paper looks through the lenses of media representation of cloning, complexity theory‘s trope of iteration, and gothic literary criticism, first to analyze Dark Angels heroine as a gothic version of Pygmalion‘s statue. It goes on to explore some of the implications of rewriting sculptor/lover Pygmalion into Dark Angels Donald Lydecker and Logan Cale, before examining the first season in its entirety. The analysis ends on a short exploration of some interactions between the show and the popular culture that produces and consumes it.