Defining the Relationships between Gothic and the Postcolonial
William Hughes and Andrew Smith
The Gothic has historically maintained an intimacy with colonial issues, and in consequence with the potential for disruption and redefinition vested in the relationships between Self and Other, controlling and repressed, subaltern milieu and dominant outsider culture. Such things are the context of obvious, visible irruptions of the colonial Orientalist exotic into the genre, whether these be the absolutist power and pagan excesses of Beckford‘s Vathek (1786), the Moorish demonic temptations of Zofloya (1806) or the perverse, corrupting influence of a western invader upon a primitivised European in the ImmaleeIsadora episodes of Maturin‘s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820). These are, in a sense, horrors beyond, the exoticism of time and space distancing the problematic text from the comfortable, identifiable world of the contemporary and the homely a reassurance comforting even in a reading of the Irish episodes of Melmoth the Wanderer, where geographical marginality anticipates a borderland as distant from metropolitan sensibilities as effective as those of later writers such as Hope Hodgson, Machen or Rolt. The colonial is both kept at a distance and in a state of suggestive vagueness, of resemblance rather than obvious representation, its horrors accessible though thankfully not immanent.
This article argues that Charles Maturins Melmoth the Wanderer embodies an ethical attitude towards its representations of Gothic violence and horror in the way that it self-reflexively stages its horrific scenes. By confronting its readers with a shifting distance from such violent scenes, the novel exposes readers to their own desire for and victimization by Gothic horror. While previous critics have tended to see Maturins novel as either glorying amorally in its excessive Gothic representations, or as recuperating its scenes of horror with a moral message, this article sees its ambiguous and undecidable attitude towards these scenes as embodying its ethical standpoint, a standpoint that challenges the illusion of literary coherence and that exposes its readers’ implication in the horror that lies traumatically within, and not safely outside, language.
Epistemology and Revolution in Charles Brockden Brown‘s
In Wieland, Charles Brockden Brown attempted to negotiate varying forces confronting
contemporary American religious and political life. Through the transformation of the
temple into a Gothic zone Brown injects questions of epistemological uncertainty, clashing
forces of rational Enlightenment and supernatural faith. Brown outlines the religiously
motivated founding of the nation reacting to European oppression as allegorical to the
Wieland patriarchs journey from the Old to New World, and his construction of the temple
demonstrates the establishment of new institutions in the American landscape. Religious
liberty turns into extremism, producing Gothic violence that transforms the temple into a
site of horror and destruction. His children attempt to re-transform the temple along
rational Enlightenment lines much the same as Brown perceived the need for America to
distance itself from its revolutionary and religious extremist origins. Yet the failure of
rationalism to expunge the supernatural aura from the temple allows for the tragic events
to transpire that comprise the bulk of the novel. Ultimately, Brown‘s Gothic novel evinces
the critical nature of the epistemological clash he sees taking place for the direction
America will take, and his concerns that Gothic violence will reverberate throughout
future generations find their expression in Wieland‘s temple.
life, the tone abruptly alters: curtains open, footsteps click, a clock chimes, and a door opens. For a few moments we have no clue as to what is happening; the steady Walton is not around to explain things. Our confusion is resolved only after a few agonising moments, when the sound of birds cheeping in the trees can be heard as the doctor leaves his laboratory to return home. Director Jay Stern deliberately toys with our emotions by placing the sounds at different distances from the microphone, thereby distancing listeners from, and subsequently bringing them in
experience in which audience members at the event were asked to dress as wedding guests and the characters recorded their reactions to the events in the narrative via a social-networking site, Twitter, throughout the performance. Both productions shared some important similarities, including their insistent endeavours to distance themselves from early film representations of the novel and to highlight the plight of Frankenstein’s creation. Both promised a sense of fidelity to Shelley’s novel by portraying an articulate Creature. More significantly here, however, both
The metafictional meanings of lycanthropic transformations in Doctor Who
off into the distance, arm-in-arm, in the final episode of the original run of the television series, it was at the end of a story (Munro's ‘Survival’) in which ideas that are rehearsed throughout the discourses of the wolf and the werewolf had been prominent, albeit in a more subdued form than its author had hoped. Ace, removed from suburban Perivale to a burning alien world on the verge of extinction, partially transformed into a werecat, rejecting her civilised conditioning and relishing a wild, violent, implicitly lesbian-erotic freedom, is representative of the
have received comparatively little critical attention.
I will consider these works in the context of Coates's wider practice to reveal that, whilst initially appearing as a far cry from the artist's earlier work, they nevertheless demonstrate a preoccupation with the same concerns.
Marcus Coates and ‘becoming-animal’
In a grainy photograph, Marcus Coates appears in the middle distance of the landscape, kneeling on all fours in a costume comprised of a bright orange jumpsuit
Scientific experimentation in George MacDonald’s ‘The History of Photogen and Nycteris’
, placing the pursuit of knowledge above any social or biological imperative to nurture the children. She is further distanced from these roles because, rather than bearing the children herself, Watho steals them from other women. MacDonald's decision to distance Watho from a direct link between her gender and child-rearing allows him to explore Watho's emotional state in relation to the fantastic and fairy-tale elements of his tale, These emotional aspects are of particular significance in MacDonald's revelation that Watho has ‘A wolf in her mind’ which ‘makes her cruel
Adapting Mary Shelley’s monster in superhero comic books
first read the novel Frankenstein in high school. Never taught it or studied it in school. For research I might have looked at the novel to get a fact or two straight, but that would have been about it’ (Thomas, ‘Re: Inquiry’). It seems certain that he at least reviewed the novel, because its final lines, ‘He was soon borne away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance!’ are accurately quoted and attributed in the comic book (Thomas, ‘The Mark’).
While the use of the Creature, explicit references to Mary Shelley, and exact quotations
their howling. Throughout Harker's time in Transylvania, he repeatedly describes not only the fact of the wolves howling but also the emotional impact of this sound. While on the way to Castle Dracula, he describes how ‘far off in the distance, from the mountains on each side of us began a louder and sharper howling – that of wolves – which affected both the horses and myself in the same way – for I was minded to jump from the calèche and run, whilst they reared again and plunged madly …’ (pp. 11–12). Later he notes the relationship between the wolves and the moon