Sleeping Beauty; although a Gothic Sleeping Beauty herself, the Lady of
the House of Love is similarly caught up in a relentless script of death
and destruction as a daughter of Dracula.
Carter’s fiction may be populated by daddy’s
girls but mother, Sage suggests, is ‘almost a missing
person’ in her writing ( 1994a : 6). However,
while biological mothers may be frequently absent from the pages of
humanity, and especially
femininity. The tomboyish Micah – who describes herself as
‘not black, not white; not a girl, not a boy; not human, not a
wolf. Not dangerous, but not exactly safe. Not crazy, but not exactly
sane … a non-person who belonged nowhere’ 2 – gradually reveals herself
to be a pathological liar suffering homicidal delusions of lycanthropy.
Throughout the novel, sprouting hair
Criminal Female Sexuality in
Bram Stoker‘s Dracula
This essay considers how Bram Stoker‘s Dracula (1901) engages both contemporary medical
models and common-sense conceptions of female criminality and sexuality. From Dracula, the
figure of Lucy Westenra emerges as a quintessential femme fatale. Lucys neck bears the
characteristic marking of the vampire, but we never witness the bite; as a result,
ambiguity surrounds the causal relationship in the process of becoming a vampire. The
novel produces this ontological ambiguity to perpetuate and to exacerbate contemporary
views regarding the radical instability of female nature. Under this logic, Lucys
encounter with the vampire brings only latent impulses to the surface. Stokers narrative
exploits this physiological uncertainty to perpetuate the sensational terror that all
female sexuality is monstrous, threatening to render the British man a debased specimen of
his former glory. By tracking the various logical ellipses and rhetorical slippages which
give shape to Stokers female vampires, I demonstrate how Stokers novels enact the same
anxious rhetoric that likewise informs the portrait of female sexuality in
Hearing Voices in L. M. Montgomery‘s Emily Climbs and F. W. H. Myers
The novels of L. M. Montgomery‘s Emily trilogy belong to the genre of domestic fiction, but they are punctuated by uncanny events, by excursions into a Gothic mode where the girl‘s smooth transition from rebellious child to compliant adult is disrupted. This paper is an investigation of Montgomerys use of Gothic tropes in the second novel of the trilogy, Emily Climbs (1925); in particular, this essay analyses the chapter entitled ‘In the Watches of the Night’, a chapter that is exemplary of Montgomery‘s use of the Gothic mode to disrupt the disciplinary system that enjoins the adolescent girl to situate her desires in the home. The chapter is permeated by Montgomery‘s reading in abnormal psychology, particularly by F. W. H. Myerss Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death (1903), a work that lends a scientific veneer to Montgomerys Gothicism with its account of what ‘hearing voices’ means. In an extravagantly gothic metaphor, Slavoj Zizek claims that the ‘life of a voice’ is ‘the uncanny life of an undead monster, not the “healthy” living self-presence of meaning’ (103). Montgomery‘s text arguably excavates a moment which reveals both the speaking subject and the ideology which disciplines it to be marked by the uncanny, by that which undermines ‘the “healthy” living self-presence of meaning’.
In 1807, the Duchess of Bedford and several of her circle attended a performance of the opera The First Attempt at Dublin‘s Theatre Royal. Their hair was not coifed in the style of the day but rather swept up and fastened with golden bodkins in the ancient Irish manner. Soon this became all the rage in polite Irish society, and Dublin jewellers, struggling to compete, took out advertisements to accuse other firms of making less than authentic replicas. Indeed, the great demand in Dublin for these golden bodkins inflated the price of gold in Ireland. Drapers soon saw a business opportunity in this Celtic fashion renaissance and started producing the `Glorvina Mantle, a flowing scarlet cape, ideally secured with golden replicas of Celtic broaches. Eventually these ancient Gaelic styles made their way to London and became fashionable among ladies from the upper class. The popularity of this exotic dress resulted from a confluence of factors. While the growing interest in Irish antiquarianism, the European fascination with orientalism and the popularity of Gothic romance fed the fire, the spark that ignited the blaze was The Wild Irish Girl, a novel written by a young Irish governess. Not only does this fashion craze bear witness to the popularity of the text, but so do the sales figures. This popular novel, first published in 1806, went through seven editions in two years, and was even successful on the Continent, especially in Germany, where the young authors popularity almost eclipsed Scott‘s and Byron‘s and her sales figures surpassed those of her fellow Irish writers, Maria Edgeworth and Charles Maturin. In fact, the great Gothic writer Maturin openly borrowed from The Wild Irish Girl in his own work.
Elsewhere, but always subsumed within more general issues, I have argued for paying more attention to the Gothicism in the writings of James Kirke Paulding, whose literary career spanned the first half of the nineteenth century. He is one of those American writers who, like murder, will out, despite more neglect than his accomplishments deserve. By 1830 - to cite but one example of Paulding‘s significance - when Hawthorne and Poe were still apprentices in the craft of short fiction, a span of years had passed during which Paulding‘s productions in this genre clearly justified such labels as ‘the Paulding decade of the short story’ (Amos L. Herold‘s designation). Harold E. Hall, moreover, ranks ‘Cobus Yerks and ‘The Dumb Girl’, two Paulding tales from this period, among the finest early nineteenth-century American short stories. Although personal and career necessities often drew him away from literary pursuits, Paulding should by no means be ignored; his name keeps surfacing, particularly when the topic is literary nationalism, as Benjamin T. Spencer, John Seelye, Michael John McDonough, and I have already indicated. Paulding is also remembered as a pioneer in presenting frontier life in fiction and for his early essays in what we now term Southwestern Humor.1
The gothic has, for two hundred years, played an important role in female culture; and worked early on to feminise established literary forms and has, throughout its history, strongly challenged established notions of femininity. Neo-gothicism reflects the feminine dimensions of the ongoing cultural and literary change: gothic horror addresses 'gendered' problems of everyday life. This book focuses on the narrative and ideological components that shape gothic fictions as feminine forms. It explores the classic texts of two hundred years of gothicism on three levels. The first is their contextualising of the specific cultural-historical situation that they both come from and address. The second is their narrative texture, marked by a complex subjectivity; and third, the inter-textualisation of feminine gothic writing. Alice Munro's Lives of Girls and Women uses gothic contextualising to tell a gothic story of growing up, and Margaret Atwood's Lady Oracle parodically incorporates gothic texture. The gothicism of Aritha van Herk's No Fixed Address relies very much on the Canadian landscape, and points to the intersection of neo-gothicism and Canadian culture. Lynne Tillman's Haunted Houses is a fictional braid of three gothic life stories of girls growing up in contemporary Brooklyn; the 'haunted houses' of the title are their bodies that are not born but becoming women. Dress, a classic feminine gothic sign for both propriety and property, is shown in the postmodern context as thematic enclosure of the body as well as formal enclosure of the story.
textuality, new media identities, and the boundaries of the human offered by an engagement with digital frameworks for storytelling. This is in addition to the great extent to which the themes pursued in the text resonate with contemporary concerns around biotechnology, genetic modification, and the threat of a posthuman future. Shelley Jackson’s CD-ROM-based multimedia work Patchwork Girl, by Mary/Shelley and Herself (1995), composed and published in the early days of hypertext enthusiasm, is an early new media work that grapples with Shelley’s novel and its themes
Transformations and animal selves in contemporary women’s poetry
‘When I became a bird, Lord, nothing could stop me’ (l. 1).
In depicting a girl drawing birds towards her from her open window, it owes something to Disney's Cinderella as well as older, darker tales. The speaker relates how she ‘knelt / by [her] open window for the charm’ (ll. 3–4): for the birds to come to her and make her one of them. ‘Charm’ is a Black Country dialect word denoting birdsong, but the echo of its meaning in standard English endows that song with transformative magic. This doubleness is ubiquitous
Wolf-children, storytelling and the state of nature
Stories of human children suckled by wolves have fascinated us down the centuries. The role literature plays in mythologising such children reveals much about shifting ideas of animality and humanity, and of narrative itself. In this chapter, I focus on eighteenth-century encounters with wild children, their representation in the poetry of the Romantic period and the legacy of this in accounts of the twentieth century (particularly following the discovery of the wolf-girls Amala and Kamala in 1920) and the present day. I interrogate the