, protect, and defend your constitutional liberties. (Jack
Valenti, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association
of America 1966–2004, 2002)
Every man I meet wants to protect me. I can’t figure out what
from. (Mae West)1
In this chapter, we begin by considering what a cultural politics approach
brings to understandings of political myths and narratives of national
security as these are presented in Hollywood movies. After briefly
reviewing the extent and reach of Hollywood’s global domination of
the film industry (see chapters 12 and 13 for more detail), we consider
This article seeks to provide an account of the political biases at stake in the conceptualisation of medieval English history in Ethelwina, Or The House of Fitz-Auburne (1799), the first fiction of the prolific Gothic romancer-turned-Royal Body Guard T. J. Horsley, Curties. Having considered Curties‘s portrayal of the reign of King Edward III in the narrative in relation to formal historiographies of the period, the article turns to address the politics of Curties‘s appropriation of Shakespeare‘s Hamlet.
James Baldwin’s Pragmatist Politics in
The Fire Next Time
Courtney D Ferriter
In The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin argues that the American dream is far from being a
reality in part because there is much Americans do not wish to know about themselves.
Given the current political climate in the United States, this idea seems just as timely
as it did in the 1960s. Baldwin’s politics and thinking about race and religion are
informed by an optimistic belief in the human capacity to love and change for the better,
in contrast with Ta-Nehisi Coates, the heir apparent to Baldwin’s legacy. Considering
current events, it seems particularly useful to turn back to The Fire Next Time. Not only
does Baldwin provide a foundation for understanding racism in the United States, but more
importantly, he provides some much-needed hope and guidance for the future. Baldwin
discusses democracy as an act that must be realized, in part by coming to a greater
understanding of race and religion as performative acts that have political consequences
for all Americans. In this article, I examine the influence of pragmatism on Baldwin’s
understanding of race and religion. By encouraging readers to acknowledge race and
religion as political constructs, Baldwin highlights the inseparability of theory and
practice that is a hallmark of both pragmatism and the realization of a democratic
society. Furthermore, I argue that Baldwin’s politics provide a more useful framework than
Coates’s for this particular historical moment because of Baldwin’s emphasis on change and
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.
Servant Negotiations of Gender and Class in Ann
Radcliffe‘s The Romance of the Forest
Male servants in Ann Radcliffe‘s early Gothic novels are frequently underexplored in
critical examinations of gender identity in Radcliffe‘s literary politics due to a long
tradition of social and literary marginalisation. However, class-specific masculine
identities built on a socio-moral and political ideologies and domestic anxieties are not
only particularly evident in Radcliffe‘s The Romance of the Forest (1791), but also
effectively problematise an already unstable masculine ideal therein. Servant masculine
identity in Radcliffe‘s work is developed through the contrast between servant characters
and their employers, through examples of potentially revolutionary active and narrative
agency by male servants, and through the instance of the heroine and male servants joint
flight from the Gothic space. This article will establish that the male servant character
in the early Gothic novel is essential to understanding socio-gendered identity in
Radcliffe‘s work, and that thisfi gure s incorporation in Gothic class and gender politics
merits further examination.
This essay examines the Gothic trope of monstrosity in a range of literary and historical works, from writings on the French Revolution to Mary Shelleys Frankenstein to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I argue that, in the various versions of the Frankenstein myth, what has ultimately come to seem most monstrous is the uncanny coupling of literary and political discourse. Beginning with Jacobin and anti-Jacobin discourse, this essay traces the tendency of literary tropes to turn into political tropes. In Frankenstein and in the Victorian rewritings of Shelley‘s novel, the trope of monstrosity functions, with remarkable consistency, as a mechanism which enables the unstable and often revolutionary turns between aesthetic and ideological discourse. Because the trope of monstrosity at the heart of Frankenstein exists on the border between literary and political discourse that trope has emerged as one of the most crucial forces in current critical theoretical debates about the relationship between aesthetics and ideology.
Neoconservative Hunters and Terrorist Vampires in Joe Ahearne‘s Ultraviolet (1998)
A consideration of the ways in which the discourse of monstrosity, once deployed against a political enemy, closes off open debate and undermine the values of those who argue that the ends needed to defeat them justify any means used. This article explores the parallels between the neoconservative rhetoric of the War on Terror with that of the vampire hunters in Joe Ahearnes television show Ultraviolet (1998), as both deny their enemies the status of political subjects. It offers a reading of the show in light of Slavoj Žižeks call to evaluate the arguments of both sides in such moralised conflicts.
In The Arcades Project, Benjamin explores the different aspects of nineteenth-century culture, in search of a historical reality to which people can awake in a revelatory act of political consciousness. However, the uncanny effects of his archival approach impinge on this revelatory and sublime process. Rather than revealing the political, economic, and technological latent content of the past, representations of the material object confront consciousness with the unfamiliar and abject forms of the repressed collective unconscious. The Gothic tropes of Benjamin‘s text are the traces of the melancholy haunting his concept of a demystifying revelation of historical and material truth.
Del Principe argues that a compelling historical and political vision of post-unification Italy lies beneath the preternatural façade of Ugo Tarchettis Fantastic Tales, and that the authors transgressive approach to social realism is a reflection of the vast, cultural transformations of the period. Del Principe proposes correlations between sexual and political realms surfacing in Tarchettis narrative as indicators of mutating class structure and emerging capitalism. An examination of spatial allegories engages a discussion of psychic and physical modes of hysteria and xenophobic reactions that stem from the nationalistic fervor of post-unification Italy.
Conspiracy and Narrative Masquerade in Schiller, Zschokke, Lewis and Hoffmann
This essay brings together the popularity of Venice in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century as a setting for horror, terror and fantasy, and the narrative conventions of the Gothic. Focusing on Schiller, Zschokke, Lewis and Hoffmann, the article studies the representation of Venice as a Gothic labyrinth, in the context of the city‘s changing reputation as a political structure. ‘Venice’ is treated as a common set of signs which overlap between the literary field and the field of cultural politics: ‘plots’ are both political conspiracies and (carnivalised: doubled and disguised) narrative forms. All is given over to the dynamics of masquerade. The topography of the Venetian Republic is itself a political text, which carnivalises the ‘separation of powers’, while the texts of the Gothic writers are narrative masquerades which choose popular hybrid forms of comedy, folktale and horror, rather than Tragedy or Realism, to respond to Venice‘s tension between law and anarchy and the conflicting pressures of Enlightenment, Republicanism and Empire.