Ballad of Reading Gaol
(1898), and Dorian Gray. As already suggested, one principal
issue at the time which relates to masculinity and desire concerns
visibility and invisibility, it is one which is addressed through
Wilde’s particular construction of Camp.
Thomas A. King has persuasively
argued, in historicist terms, that the performative aspects of Camp
Sherlock Holmes’s association
with an abstracted, instrumental and superior gaze has suggested to
critics the presence of a specifically masculine intellect, one which is
contrasted, in the tales, with images of feminine irrationality. 1 Joseph A. Kestner
in Sherlock’s Men: Masculinity .; Conan Doyle, and
Cultural History (1997) suggests that rationality was
, the gambler,
the alcoholic, the criminal and the artist were just some of the
characters who, at various times, composed a pantheon of degenerate
figures. It is, however, the idea of masculinity and its susceptibility
to pathologisation which concerns us here, and it was an issue given
particular prominence by Max Nordau in Degeneration (1892), a
book which is also, in part, a summation of earlier
This article considers the allusions to classical statuary in Matthew G. Lewis’s
novel The Monk (1796) and his Journal of a West India
Proprietor Kept during a Residence in the Island of Jamaica (1816).
Drawing on John Barrell’s account of civic discourse on the fine arts after
Shaftesbury, I explain and contextualise the centrality of the Venus de’ Medici
statue to Lewis’s representations of male desire and male virtue. Images of
Venus, both in The Monk and in the Journal,
function as tests of civic virtue and articulate the conditions of Lewis’s
entitlement to hold and govern slaves in Jamaica. Lewis’s colonial inheritance
underpins the narratives of desire in The Monk, and inflects
his authorship more generally.
Masculinity and Perversity in Crash and Fight Club
This article considers two evocations of the Gothic in contemporary film that link the popular recurrence of Gothic conventions to contemporary constructions of perversity and masculinity. Crash (1996) and Fight Club (1999) intersect themes of masculine perversity with the Gothic, giving substantially new life to discourses surrounding a ‘crisis in masculinity’ at the turn of the twentieth century. The relationship between the Gothic and masculinity is considered in relation to themes surrounding the corporeal, psychological and social ‘perversities’ in the two films.
Homosocial Sins and Identity in Horace Walpole‘s The Castle of Otranto
Readings of William Beckford‘s novel Vathek suggest it encodes homoerotic desire and suspect masculinity in its themes and narrative structure when read alongside the life of the author. Horace Walpole‘s The Castle of Otranto can be read with the same methodology. The narratives of identity reversal, both gender and social, and its tropes of hyperbolic masculinity as sources of fear are interpreted according to the central importance gender has for understanding Walpole‘s conception of his sexuality. The novel exhibits a fear of gossip and rumour over identity, which may be related to a fear of public exposure of homoerotic desire as it is (mis)understood in terms of same-sex practice between men.
In Alien3 Lt Ellen Ripley finds herself in a nightmare scenario. She has crash-landed on an abandoned prison planet, ‘Fury 161’, surrounded by a remnant of the inmate population (twenty-five prisoners, a medical officer and two administrators who have opted to remain in a care-taking capacity after the prison/refinery was closed). The prisoners are a violent group of rapists and murderers with double-y chromosome coding, who can only seem to control their excessive expressions of masculinity by fanatically embracing a fundamentalist religion. Ripley sums up the group as ‘a bunch of lifers who found God at the ass-end of space’. On one level, this setting begs for a story of male homosexuality: an all-male prison planet filled with sexual aggressors could be the recipe for a gay male porn classic. Instead, it becomes a tale of excessive masculinity manifested through heterosexual fears and desires. I want to take this discrepancy between homo-possibilities and hetero-manifestations as my point of departure to explore how Alien3s engagement with the Gothic diverts and expresses anxieties about queer masculinity, desire, and sexuality.
The author reviews Barry Jenkins’s 2018 film adaptation of
Baldwin’s novel, If Beale Street Could Talk, finding
that Jenkins’s lush, painterly, and dreamlike visual style successfully
translates Baldwin’s cadenced prose into cinematic language. But in
interpreting the novel as the “perfect fusion” of the anger of
Baldwin’s essays and the sensuality of his fiction, Jenkins overlooks the
novel’s most significant aspect, its gender politics. Baldwin began
working on If Beale Street Could Talk shortly after being
interviewed by Black Arts poet Nikki Giovanni for the PBS television show,
Soul!. Giovanni’s rejection of Baldwin’s
claims that for black men to overcome the injuries of white supremacy they
needed to fulfill the breadwinner role prompted him to rethink his understanding
of African American manhood and deeply influenced his representation of the
novel’s black male characters. The novel aims to disarticulate black
masculinity from patriarchy. Jenkins’s misunderstanding of this aspect of
the novel surfaces in his treatment of the character of Frank, who in the novel
serves as an example of the destructiveness of patriarchal masculinity, and in
his rewriting of the novel’s ending.
This article examines Pat Barker‘s novel Another World (1998) in order to argue that it portrays the masculine subject as precarious and unstable. This is linked to the novels regional setting, in which traditional ‘heavy’ industries such as armaments manufacturing are in decline, thus depriving men of an authoritative public and private role. Viewed from the perspective of postfeminism, this might be regarded as a sign that male (and female) roles can be renegotiated in order to achieve greater gender equality. However, Barker‘s frequent references to Gothic texts renders this crisis sinister and uncanny. This paper uses references to Nicolas Abraham‘s essay ‘Notes on the Phantom’ in order to assert that Another World‘s preoccupation with murder and haunting reveals a compulsive desire to cover up this sense of ‘lack’ that Barker implies characterises modern masculine subjectivity.