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The Early Promise and Disappointing Career of Time-Lapse Photography

Time-lapse photography—the extremely accelerated recording and projection of an event taking place over an extended duration of time—is almost as old as the movies themselves. (The first known use of time-lapse dates from 1898.) In the early decades of the twentieth century, cineastes, not to mention scientists, artists, and poets, waxed eloquently on the promise of time-lapse photography as a means for revealing “things we cannot see,” and expanding human perception. This essay examines time-lapses tremendous initial imaginative appeal for such figures as Ernst Mach, Germaine Dulac, Jean Epstein, Rudolf Arnheim, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and Collette, and speculates about the possible reasons for its diminution over the course of the century.

Film Studies
Rape and Marriage in Go Tell It on the Mountain

To consider how James Baldwin resisted racialized notions of sexuality in his first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, I employ a number of black feminist critics—including Saidiya Hartman, Patricia Williams, Hortense Spillers, and Patricia Hill Collins—to analyze three under-studied minor characters: Deborah, Esther, and Richard. Those three characters are best understood as figures of heterosexual nonconformity who articulate sophisticated and important critiques of rape and marriage in America at the turn of the twentieth century. Baldwin thus wrote subversive theories of race and sexuality into the margins of the novel, making its style inextricable from its politics. Baldwin’s use of marginal voices was a deft and intentional artistic choice that was emancipatory for his characters and that remains enduringly relevant to American sexual politics. In this particularly polarizing transition from the Obama era to the Donald J. Trump presidency, I revisit Baldwin’s ability to subtly translate political ideas across fault lines like race, nationality, and sex.

James Baldwin Review

The intellectual connection between James Baldwin and Lionel Trilling, and the resonances across their criticism, are more substantial than scholarly and biographical treatments have disclosed. For Trilling, Baldwin’s writings were notable for their deviation from most humanistic inquiry, which he considered insufficiently alert to the harms and depredations of culture. Baldwin’s work became for Trilling a promising indication that American criticism could be remade along the lines of a tragic conception of culture deriving from Freud. This essay concentrates on a relevant but neglected dynamic in American letters—the mid-twentieth-century tension between Freudian thought and American humanistic inquiry evident in fields like American Studies—to explain the intellectual coordinates within which Trilling developed an affinity for Baldwin’s work. The essay concludes by suggesting that the twilight of Freud’s tragic conception of culture, which figured centrally in the modernist critical environment in which Baldwin and Trilling encountered one another, contributed to an estrangement whereby the two came to be seen as unrelated and different kinds of critics, despite the consonance of their critical idioms during the 1940s and 1950s.

James Baldwin Review
Ordinary Intimacies in Emerson, Du Bois, and Baldwin

This essay reads James Baldwin in conversation with two unexpected interlocutors from the American nineteenth and twentieth centuries: Ralph Waldo Emerson and W. E. B. Du Bois. What draws these historically distant and intellectually different thinkers together, their differences making their convergences all the more resonant and provocative, is a shared mode of attention they bring to the social crises of their eras. It is a mode of attention foregrounding how the often unobserved particulars and emotional registers of human life vitally shape civic existence; more specifically, a mode of attention provoking us to see how “a larger, juster, and fuller future,” in Du Bois’s words, is a matter of the ordinary intimacies and estrangements in which we exist, human connections in all their expressions and suppressions. Emerson names them “facts [. . .] harder to read.” They are “the finer manifestations,” in Du Bois’s terms, “of social life, which history can but mention and which statistics can not count”; “All these things,” Baldwin says, “[. . .] which no chart can tell us.” In effect, from the 1830s to the 1980s these thinkers bear witness to what politics, legislation, and even all our knowledges can address only partially, and to the potentially transformative compensations we might realize in the way we conduct our daily lives. The immediate relevance and urgency this essay finds in their work exists not in proposed political actions, programs for reform, or systematic theories of social justice but in the way their words revitalize the ethical question “How shall I live?” Accumulative and suggestive rather than systematically comparative or polemical, this essay attempts to engage with Emerson, Du Bois, and Baldwin intimately, to proceed in the spirit of their commitment to questioning received disciplines, languages, and ways of inhabiting the world.

James Baldwin Review
Transfusing Blood, Science and the Supernatural in Vampire Texts

This article examines blood transfusion in vampire texts and its connections to vampirism in order to establish the different ways the body and identity of the vampire, and its victim, are constituted and affected by the dangerous circulation of blood. Vampire texts manifest anxieties about identity that arise through the symbolic value of blood, but also through its increasing medicalisation. Nineteenth-century vampire texts focus on blood‘s symbolisms while twentieth-century texts define blood as a neutral medium to be analysed and explained. In the late twentieth century however, blood becomes the locus of biomedical interventions which affirm respect for tradition, selfish individualism and responsibility.

Gothic Studies
Changing Icons, Changing Times

The article surveys two centuries of Gothic Revivals in the architecture and popular culture of the United States, from the Carpenter Gothic of 1830-1860 through the castle-building of the Gilded Age and the Gothic Revival structures of the early twentieth century to todays Renaissance Faires. American Gothic is fantastic, ‘reviving’ a time and place that never existed on those shores. The earlier Gothic Revival castles represented an aristocratic and anti-democratic tradition, while in the twentieth century, Gothic revival styles are postmodern and ephemeral. These outward manifestations of the Gothic image in America show how fascination with the medieval was transformed from a pastime of the wealthy few to the masscult many, one way in which North America has appropriated and transformed the European Middle Ages through serious architectural practice and market-driven parody of the Gothic.

Gothic Studies
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.

Gothic Studies
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Burying the Literary Corpus in the Modern City

This essay explores the way in which Gothic tropes and metaphors manifest themselves in writing that is not recognisably classed as Gothic in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It argues that recent Gothic writing has exhausted the potency of such motifs and that criticism needs to re-examine the literature of modernity, in particular that of ‘High’ culture, and assess the way in which Gothic metaphor manifests itself therein. Ultimately the paper explores literature which troubles the traditional boundaries constructed between aesthetics and ethics found in nineteenth-century cultural discourse.

Gothic Studies
Barbara Comyns and the Female Gothic Tradition

Horner and Zlosnik explore the work of the English novelist Barbara Comyns whose best-known works were published between 1950 and 1985. They focus on The Vet‘s Daughter (1959) and The Skin Chairs (1962) and explore how Comyns‘s use of parody, wit, and humour exposes the horrors of domestic life. For Horner and Zlosnik this constitutes a Female Comic Gothic which is grotesque and blackly comic in its critical assault on patriarchal plots, and so constitutes a particular form of the Female Gothic which became popular in the twentieth century.

Gothic Studies
Vampires and the Spectre of Miscegenation

This article explores the trend in contemporary vampire media to highlight racially-charged issues, demonstrating a consciousness of the way the vampire has been used in conjunction with racial stigmatisation. While the traditional figure of the vampire spoke strongly to late nineteenth-,and early twentieth-century white American fears of miscegenation, I argue that some contemporary vampire narratives, such as Blade (1998), Underworld (2003), and True Blood (2008-), rewrite the figure in order to question and/or undo,the link between ‘monstrosity’ and racial otherness. Central to this task is not only the repositioning and characterisation of the vampire, but also — considering that the female body was once perceived as the locus for racial purity — that of the heroine.

Gothic Studies