Wild, dark times are rumbling toward us, and
the prophet who wishes to write a new apocalypse will have to
invent entirely new beasts, and beasts so terrible that the
ancient animal symbols of St John will seem like cooing doves
and cupids in comparison. (Heinrich Heine, ‘Lutetia; or,
The American Gothic journeys of Jack Kerouac, Cormac McCarthy and Jim Crace
models of a threatened apocalypse. My argument is that Kerouac’s
novel provides a version of the ‘road’ which is echoed in
later post-environmental apocalyptic narratives such as Cormac
McCarthy’s The Road (2006) and Jim Crace’s The
Pesthouse (2007). Kerouac also elaborates a version of
subjectivity which underpins these later exercises in American Gothic as
they all attempt to theorize the
stone pillar and almost overwhelms the pagan
cannibals of Mermedonia. Despite their differences, all the poems share
an interest in two themes, which emerge from the biblical story of the
Flood and its theological interpretation: covenant and apocalypse.
Scholars of Old English poetry
generally agree that Genesis A is an early poem, perhaps written
as early as the
Neoliberalism, Zombies and the Failure of Free Trade
The popular cultural ubiquity of the zombie in the years following the Second World War is testament to that monster‘s remarkable ability to adapt to the social anxieties of the age. From the red-scare zombie-vampire hybrids of I Am Legend (1954) onwards, the abject alterity of the ambulant dead has been deployed as a means of interrogating everything from the war in Vietnam (Night of the Living Dead, 1968) to the evils of consumerism (Dawn of the Dead, 1978). This essay explores how, in the years since 9/11, those questions of ethnicity and gender, regionality and power that have haunted the zombie narrative since 1968 have come to articulate the social and cultural dislocations wrought by free-market economics and the shock doctrines that underscore the will to global corporatism. The article examines these dynamics through consideration of the figure of the zombie in a range of contemporary cultural texts drawn from film, television, graphic fiction, literature and gaming, each of which articulates a sense not only neo-liberalism itself has failed but simply wont lie down and die. It is therefore argued that in an age of corporate war and economic collapse, community breakdown and state-sanctioned torture, the zombie apocalypse both realises and works through the failure of the free market, its victims shuffling through the ruins, avatars of the contemporary global self.
Degeneration in the Holy Land and the House of Usher
Poe‘s preoccupation with degeneration, decay and dissolution is revealed in ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’, not only as synonymous with the image of the arabesque, but also as dependent on contrast with the word ‘Hebrew’. A reading of the Near East as Holy Land is made possible, Roderick Usher‘s decline likened to contemporary degeneration in terms of Palestine‘s decay. Poe‘s 1837 review of John Lloyd Stephen‘s Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia, Petraea, and the Holy Land exposes his interests in biblical prophecy (including its unintelligibility and yet endurance), millennialism and apocalypse. These themes are transferred to ‘Usher’ as the houses destruction is aligned with the images and structures of biblical prophecy. The storys treatments of landscape and the house itself explore notions of constructed sacred space. In the 1837 review, describing the illumination of prophecy as ‘no less remarkable’ than its fulfilment, Poe underlines a theme of revelation that is fictionalized within ‘Usher’. Prophecy as storytelling within the text provides a means of examining Poe against the historical context in which he wrote. Other ways in which Poe‘s writings reveal nineteenth-century religious structures are potentially numerous when considered against the prophecy framework.
Written in the aftermath of the civil rights era’s expansive hopes, James Baldwin’s last
novel, Just Above My Head (1979), examines a fundamental issue, the choice between hope
and skepticism, or prophecy and doubt. Baldwin approaches this issue by questioning two
cornerstone ideas of his fiction, the need for prophetic art and this art’s focus on
anticipating a renovated society, often pictured in terms adapted from apocalyptic
biblical texts and Gospel music lyrics. Just Above My Head is Baldwin’s fullest
presentation of this kind of art and its linkage to apocalyptic hopes. He dramatizes these
ideas in the art of his Gospel singer protagonist, particularly in a climactic scene of
artistic dedication whose Gospel lyric envisions “tearing down the kingdom of this world.”
Yet Baldwin also unsparingly questions these same ideas through plot and the
blues-inflected skeptical-tragic consciousness of his narrator. Responding to a 1970s
moment when hopes for transcendent justice seemed passé, Just Above My Head’s unique
contribution is not to try to resolve the ideas it counterposes, but to face both the
possible falseness of prophetic hope and our continuing need for it, and to present the
necessity for choice in a final dream that holds the key to the novel’s meaning. In
presenting this issue through a sustained double-voiced narrative that reexamines its
author’s artistic practice and raises fundamental choices in outlook and conduct, Just
Above My Head evidences the continuing artistic vitality of Baldwin’s late fiction.
The story of the Flood, inherited by the Anglo-Saxons during their conversion to Christianity, was transformed by them into a vital myth through which they interpreted the whole of history and their place in it. The dual character of the myth, with the opposition between threatened destruction and hope of renewal, presented commentators with a potent historical metaphor, which they exploited in their own changing historical circumstance. This book explores the use of this metaphor in the writings of the Anglo-Saxons. It is the integration of a well-known biblical story into the historical and cultural self-definition of a group of people converted to Christianity and its worldview. The Flood in the Bible is clearly a punishment, though the sin is not so well defined. This forms part of a historical pattern of sin and punishment extending back to Eden, and progressed to the sin and exile of Cain. For Bede the historian, the Flood was a key event in the earlier history of the world; for Bede the theologian, the Flood was an event replete with mystical significance. In Exodus and Andreas all the poems share an interest in two themes, which emerge from the biblical story of the Flood and its theological interpretation: covenant and apocalypse. Noah is the 'one father' not only of Israel, but of the whole human race, and his introduction widens the concept of 'inheritance' in the Exodus. The book concludes with a detailed discussion of the significance of the Flood myth in Beowulf.
This book explores the cultural history of the female werewolf, from her first appearance in medieval literature to recent incarnations in film, television and popular literature. It focuses on folkloric records of the island of Saaremaa, Estonia, a territory in which, unusually, there are more folktales of female werewolves than male. The book also explores tropes and strategies of feminisation evident in Werewolf: The Apocalypse to reveal an almost unique disavowal of the masculine werewolf in favour of traditions of presenting the female werewolf. The examination of Honoré Beaugrand's 'The Werewolves' offers fruitful discussion of the female werewolf's integration into colonial discourse and narrative. In the nineteenth century, at the fin de siècle, female authors began to produce fiction about the female werewolf. Two of the most interesting examples of this, which have been curiously neglected by critics, are Clemence Housman's novella The Werewolf and Rosamund Marriott Watson's poem 'A Ballad of the Were-wolf', written under the pseudonym Graham R. Tomson and published in 1891. Then, the book examines twenty-first-century young adult paranormal romance texts, considering the ways in which such texts associate lycanthropy with contemporary idealisations and constructions of the post-adolescent female. It explores presentations of body-centred violence in film, drawing parallels between female werewolves and other violent females in horror cinema. Finally, the book also examines cinematic representations of the femme animale with an exploration of how this conceptualisation of the feminine might inform a reading of Ginger Snaps.
This book explores a number of Alan Moore's works in various forms, including comics, performance, short prose and the novel, and presents a scholarly study of these texts. It offers additional readings to argue for a politically charged sense of Moore's position within the Gothic tradition, investigates surreal Englishness in The Bojeffries Saga, and discusses the doppelganger in Swamp Thing and From Hell. Radical environmental activism can be conceived as a Gothic politics invoking the malevolent spectre of a cataclysmic eco-apocalypse. The book presents Christian W. Schneider's treatment of the apocalyptic in Watchmen and a reassessment of the significance of liminality from the Gothic tradition in V for Vendetta. It explores the relationship between Moore's work and broader textual traditions, placing particular emphasis on the political and cultural significance of intertextual relationships and adaptations. A historically sensitive reading of From Hell connects Moore's concern with the urban environment to his engagement with a range of historical discourses. The book elucidates Moore's treatment of the superhero in relation to key Gothic novels such as The Castle of Otranto and presents an analysis of the nexus of group politics and survival in Watchmen. The book also engages in Moore's theories of art, magic, resurrections, and spirits in its discourse A Small Killing, A Disease of Language, and the Voice of the Fire. It also explores the insight that his adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft, which are laced with heterocosms and bricolage, can yield for broader understandings of his forays into the occult.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse is a
table-top role-playing game (RPG), published by White Wolf in 1992.
Gameplay is based on a core rulebook (which may be augmented by
additional published material), used by a gamemaster or
‘storyteller’ to devise fictional worlds, scenarios and
characters with which player-created characters interact; character
creation and interaction is, in