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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Postfeminist Vampirism in Margaret Atwood‘s The Robber Bride
The article examines Margaret Atwood‘s The Robber Bride in terms of Gothic imagery and postfeminist politics. The novel depicts three characteristically second wave women whose lives are disrupted by Zenia, the embodiment of postfeminism. Zenia threatens the stability of the women and they respond to her with both loathing and desire, experiencing her as a vampire feeding on their lives. The Robber Bride connects the subversive power of Gothic to the multiple identities, transgressions and instabilities of postfeminism. Using a common second wave feminist psychoanalytic rereading of Gothic terror as fear of confinement, I suggest that Atwood‘s depiction of Zenia as a Gothic figure points to some concerns about second wave feminist politics. The location of Zenia as both Self and Other raises questions about postfeminisms situation as a reactionary backlash against feminism, and equally as a liberal politics that many late twentieth-century women were increasingly identifying with.
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.
Since 2005 Tim Burton’s imagination has frequently turned to Victorian-related
subjects. Focusing primarily on Corpse Bride (2005),
Sweeney Todd (2007) and Alice in Wonderland
(2010), this article argues that Burton’s response to (neo-) Victorian culture
is a distinctly Gothic one. Unlike other more literary and canonical types of
neo-Victorianism it engages with the popular and strongly Gothicised conceptions
of the Victorian that emerged through the horror cinema of the twentieth
century. It is also Gothic in the way that it self-consciously blends the
Victorian with other cultural trends. As a result, rather than offering a
strongly theorised, academic view of the Victorians, Burton remediates them for
his own aesthetic purposes.
In Shirley Jackson‘s novel The Haunting of Hill House, the tropes of haunting, telepathy, and clairvoyance serve to remind us that there is more to alterity than the shattering of the autos. In Jackson‘s novel, these tropes lead us to reconsider what we mean by subjectivity for, beyond the question of consciousness, they also destabilize what Sonu Shamdasani refers to as the “singular notion of the ‘unconscious’ that has dominated twentieth century thought,” especially via Freudian psychoanalysis. By drawing upon Carl Jung‘s theory of synchronicity in relation to quantum theory, this paper argues that Jackson‘s novel challenges certain classical models of human consciousness and subjectivity as well as psychoanalytic models of interpretation.
In his analysis of the evolution of sexuality in society in Making Sexual History, Jeffrey Weeks comments that, following a series of major challenges throughout the twentieth century (ranging from Freud‘s work to the challenges of feminism and queer politics), ‘sexuality becomes a source of meaning, of social and political placing, and of individual sense of self ’. This special issue of Gothic Studies intends to foster further research on the topic of queer sexuality. This is research which has already been underway for some time but it has not always been interdisciplinary in nature, as is the case for these five articles, in their discussion of theatre, cinema, and literature or literary conventions borrowed from Gothic novels.