Melodrama, Mystery, and the Nightmare of History in Jessie Fauset‘s Plum Bun
This essay discusses how African-American novelist Jessie Fauset used the Gothic motif of a hidden history to critique the melodramatic happy ending of her best novel, one set in New York city in the 1920s. What undermines the ‘moral legibility’ of melodrama is the Gothic implications of an unsolved crime in the past, one that, ironically, continues to haunts the ‘New Negro’ of the Harlem Renaissance who claims to have reinvented him or herself in the modern city.
The Case of Mary Ashford and the Cultural Context of Late-Regency Melodrama
This paper examines the historical context of the publication and reception of three dramas related to the murder of a gardener‘s daughter, Mary Ashford in Sutton Coldfield in 1817. George Ludlam‘s The Mysterious Murder was countered by a play called The Murdered Maid whose anonymous author is likely to have been a local clergyman. Both plays were locally written and published. When the case reached a national arena, John Kerr‘s Presumptive Guilt provided a London-based comment on the case. The paper examines the relationship between these metropolitan and provincial print cultures and the way in which dramatic form was used as a mode of mediation between public and legal discourse.
The Castle Spectre was one of the most popular and successful theatrical events of its day, and critics have often tried to explain its success, usually appealing to the ‘spectacular’ appearance of the spectre herself. But critics have not explored how the spectre - certainly no novelty on the stage - caused such a stir among contemporary audiences. By examining a selection of reviews, comments by contemporary literary figures, the text of the play, and Lewis‘s own comments concerning his spectacle, this paper demonstrates how Lewis employs strategies of delay and misdirection to make an otherwise nonviolent and unspectacular play appear excessively violent and spectacular even by 1790s Gothic standards.
Colonial Structures and the Gothic Genre
in Contemporary Puerto Rican Narrative
Sandra M. Casanova-Vizcaíno
This article analyses the representation of several colonial structures in the Caribbean
reconfiguration of the Gothic genre, specifically in two works of contemporary Puerto
Ricanfiction: Miss Florences Trunk: Fragments for a Romantic Trash Novel (1991) by Ana
Lydia Vega and Over My Dead Body (2012) by Marta Aponte Alsina. In these novellas,
specifically through the main characters reading of diaries and confessions, we are
presented with a description of the physical structures. At the same time, the colonial
structure also emerges, a context in which slavery, sexual abuse and mulataje are
described as ubiquitous sources of terror.
Gothic Melodrama and the Aesthetic of Silence in Thomas Holcroft‘s A Tale of Mystery
Focusing on melodrama and on Thomas Holcroft‘s exemplary A Tale of Mystery (1802) in particular, this essay proposes a reinterpretation of Gothic drama and theatre as constitutively characterized by interruptions of comprehension. The tribulations of its persecuted protagonist Francisco are read in the context of the court trial of a real-life Francisco, who lived in London in 1802 and was one of the ‘stars’ in contemporary newspaper reports from the Old Bailey. Combining different generic and tonal modes, Romantic-period Gothic melodrama capitalized on explicitness and hyperbole, as well as on materializations of ethics and sentiment through their overt exhibition on stage or ‘ostension’. At the same time, it emphasized absence, silence, dematerialization and dissolution. With its continuously deferred revelations,and ostensions of the unsaid, A Tale of Mystery is a significant investment in an aesthetic of the unsaid that is central to a definition of Gothic on stage.
The discourses and practices of science and medicine significantly influenced British Romantic-period drama so that these new fields of inquiry were recontextualized in popular forms of the Gothic. Notions of the body and the spirit were negotiated on the stage, and the result constituted what I call ‘Techno-Gothic’ drama. Not surprisingly, Techno-Gothic drama took on two manifestations - grotesques and ghosts - and I examine how the vampire - at once grotesque and ghos - demonstrates the workings of Techno-Gothic drama in James Robinson Planchés melodrama The Vampire; or the Bride of the Isles, A Romantic Melodrama in Two Acts, Preceded by an Introductory Vision (1820) and in Thomas Dibdin‘s spectacular Don Giovanni; or A Spectre on Horseback (1818). I argue that Planchés and Dibdins popular plays demonstrate how Techno-Gothic drama appropriated, interrogated, negotiated, and resisted scientific concepts and technological methods in post-Enlightenment thought and culture. In parodying scientific methods and demonstrations, The Vampire and Don Giovanni, question the veracity and omnipotence of the new sciences.
This book studies the mother figure in English drama from the mid-sixteenth to the early seventeenth centuries. It explores a range of genres from popular mystery and moral plays to drama written for the court and universities and for the commercial theatres, including history plays, comedies, tragedies, romances and melodrama. Familiar and less-known plays by such diverse dramatists as Udall, Bale, Phillip, Legge, Kyd, Marlowe, Peele, Shakespeare, Middleton, Dekker and Webster are subject to readings that illuminate the narrative value of the mother figure to early modern dramatists. The book explores the typology of the mother figure by examining the ways in which her narrative value in religious, political and literary discourses of the period might impact upon her representation. It addresses a range of contemporary narratives from Reformation and counter-Reformation polemic to midwifery manuals and Mother's Legacies, and from the political rhetoric of Mary I, Elizabeth and James to the reported gallows confessions of mother convicts and the increasingly popular Puritan conduct books. The relations between tradition and change and between typology and narrative are explored through a focus upon the dramatised mother in a series of dramatic narratives that developed out of rapidly shifting social, political and religious conditions.
This book explores the diverse literary, film and visionary creations of the polymathic and influential British artist Clive Barker. It presents groundbreaking essays that critically reevaluate Barker's oeuvre. These include in-depth analyses of his celebrated and lesser known novels, short stories, theme park designs, screen and comic book adaptations, film direction and production, sketches and book illustrations, as well as responses to his material from critics and fan communities. The book examines Barker's earlier fiction and its place within British horror fiction and socio-cultural contexts. Selected tales from the Books of Blood are exemplary in their response to the frustrations and political radicalism of the 1980s British cultural anxieties. Aiming to rally those who stand defiant of Thatcher's polarising vision of neoliberal British conservatism, Weaveworld is revealed to be a savage indictment of 1980s British politics. The book explores Barker's transition from author to filmmaker, and how his vision was translated, captured, and occasionally compromised in its adaptation from page to the screen. Barker's work contains features which can be potentially read as feminine and queer, positioning them within traditions of the Gothic, the melodrama and the fantastic. The book examines Barker's works, especially Hellraiser, Nightbreed, and Lord of Illusions, through the critical lenses of queer culture, desire, and brand recognition. It considers Barker's complex and multi-layered marks in the field, exploring and re-evaluating his works, focusing on Tortured Souls and Mister B. Gone's new myths of the flesh'.
‘Connie’: melodrama and
That night she danced with a heavy heart and went home tired and restless. Sleep only came to her by fits and starts, and in her dreams she saw
the Boss talking to the manager of the theatre. So the next morning she
was not astonished to hear that her services were no longer required, that
she must look out for another engagement. (‘Connie’ [Law, 1893–94:
September 1893, p. 10])
You are my brother’s mistress, a woman of no reputation, whose proper
place is the workhouse. Living here, you do
The scene may be original to Frankenstein ’s film history, but it directly invokes the novel’s nineteenth-century stage history, which also took many forms – melodramas, farces, and burlesques. Song-and-dance routines such as the one in Young Frankenstein were common in nineteenth-century stage productions, such as Frankenstein; or, The Vampire’s Victim , a musical first staged at London’s Gaiety Theatre in 1887. Like the 1974 parody, the 1887 burlesque took its most immediate inspiration from several earlier Frankenstein adaptations, Gothic thrillers, and