Modernity and technics
Over the 1880 to 1920 period, modern life in Western cities became
exponentially enmeshed with a host of new technologies: automobiles,
express trains, aeroplanes, electrical lighting, electrical conveyances
(tramways, elevators, funiculars, moving sidewalks, etc.), telephone,
wireless, and of course cinema. There were also less public innovations in industrial production and chemistry, in medicine (X-rays,
pharmacology, dentistry, surgery, cosmetics, eyewear), and in destructive technologies of
An enactive reading of the Middle English cycle plays
Eva von Contzen
A cognitive approach to Middle English drama: joint attention
In recent years, the field of cognitive literary studies has gained great currency. Questions range from the cognitive backdrop of literary production and the cognitive engagement and investment of readers, to the representation of mental processes in and through literary texts. Experience is a key term in this trajectory, most often evoked in the context of embodiment. Embodied knowledge is an important aspect of how we experience and make sense of literature
This paper examines how the reconfiguration of embodiment at the end of the nineteenth century provides Charlotte Mew with a powerful trope of disembodiment which she employs to inscribe a new kind of body in her short story, ‘Passed’- a body which allows the expression of lesbian desire. The ‘reconfiguration of embodiment’ discussed in this essay is, more specifically, the result of the emergence of the ‘machinic-human body’ (a precursor to the post-human at this time). This paper discusses how this machinic-human body ‘which is Gothic or ‘abhuman’ as the term is employed by Kelly Hurley in her book, The Gothic Body is linked to Mew‘s use of erasure, silence, death, and out-of-body-experience, and how Mew employs erasure of the printed word, and death of the heterosexual body to encode a new body, with ‘new’ desires. In ‘Passed’, text and body are intimately linked such that within the world of the story erasure of the written word is associated with the erasure of the heterosexual body, and this very erasure enacts an encoding of a homosexual one. At the same time, of course, it is Mew‘s use of print that allows the erasure and encoding that is the work of the story.
a persistent process in the
This can be seen in the
symbolic embodiment of land that has been noted in Voice :
which merges people and their stories, just as their material bodies
will ultimately decompose into the land.
Echoes of events and
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.
Representations of Lower-Class Voices in Ann Radcliffe’s Novels
This paper investigates lower-class voices within the context of anti-Gothic
criticism, using Ann Radcliffe’s novels and early Gothic critic Joseph Addison’s
essays to highlight the ways in which Radcliffe reassigns value to the Gothic
aesthetic. It further emphasizes Radcliffe’s reconfiguration of domestic roles
as she positions patriarchal figures as anti-Gothic critics, the heroine as
reader of gothic narratives, and lowerclass voices and tales as gothic texts.
The Mysteries of Udolpho and Romance of the
Forest subvert critical discourse and its motif of servants’ contagious
irrationality. In Radcliffe’s novels, ‘vulgar’ narratives as superstitious
discourse do not spread fear to susceptible heroines, embodiments of bourgeois
virtue, but demonstrate the ways in which fear is a construct of patriarchal
discourse. Servants and country people, in turn, construct a pedagogy for
reading gothic texts that permit heroines to deconstruct metaphors of ghostly
haunting embedded in their tales and resist patriarchal hegemony and
interpretative authority over gothic texts.
Critics of the Gothic have typically stated that ancient, foreign, Catholic, Italy was generally an obvious choice as the site of early Gothic ‘otherness’. I argue that Walpole‘s choice of Italy was in fact overdetermined by his experiences there from 1739–41. In Italy, Walpole learned various strategies for disguising a self implicitly unacceptable in England. Italy was notorious for its homoerotic subcultures. Its Carnevale institutionalised the masquerade, and Italian opera performed the notion that gender is a performance. Upon his return to England, Walpole constructed Strawberry Hill, his most extravagant and elaborate masquerade. Years later, when the dream of his grand staircase impelled, The Castle of Otranto, another disguise was expressed. According to Otranto, Strawberry Hill was the unconscious embodiment of the English cultural prohibitions imposed upon him; the first Gothic novel is also the first closet.
Regarded by fans and critics alike as the Queen of Horror, Barbara Steele stands as
one of the few bona fide cult icons of the genre, whose ability to project an uncanny
blend of deathliness and eroticism imbues her characters with a kind of necrophiliac
appeal. Horror film scholars have tended to read Steele‘s films in feminist terms, as
texts that play to our fascination with the monstrous-feminine. This article
approaches them from a different standpoint – that of cinephilia studies. Steele‘s
cult horror films are at their most basic level horror movies about cinephilia,
presenting her as the very embodiment of the ghostly medium that cinephiles cherish.
In so doing, they convert Steele into a necrophiliac fetish-object, an intoxicating
fusion of death and desire. Considering Steele‘s work from this perspective reveals
the fluidity of the boundary between horror and cinephilia, demonstrating that horror
has something important to teach us about cinephilia and cinephilia has something
important to teach us about horror.
In a footnote to his 1919 essay, ‘The Uncanny’ (‘Das Unheimliche’), Freud perfunctorily reports a strange encounter with himself. While he was traveling by train, a mirrored door in his compartment swung open, whereupon Freud was confronted with a distasteful-looking stranger intruding into his private space, a stranger whom he momentarily recognized as a reflection of himself.2 If we use Freud‘s own analysis in ‘The Uncanny’, derived from Otto Rank‘s work on the double, the power of this disconcerting episode could be attributed to the adult fear of the double, transmogrified from the animistic or childhood projection of a friendly double, another self who served as a protection against danger or death, into a fearful emblem of ones own mortality in the more repressed adult mind.3 That is, in our early state of primary narcissism we familiarize the strange world around us by projecting outward versions of ourselves; however, as adults who have discovered that we are not the source of all being, the unexpected appearance of an alternate self is initially frightening and unrecognizable. Freuds initial impression of himself as an alien intruder is uncanny because the scene is suffused with a supernatural aura and recalls him to a primary narcissistic fear. A double is a distorted version of a being already in existence, thus engendering the fear that the double is the real, original self who has come to take our place. Or, as Françoise Meltzer has noted, ‘the double entails the seeing of self as other, and thus forces the admission of mortality’ (229). Unexpected sightings of doubles in adulthood also confirm the validity of the sensation evoked by the super-ego which oversees and watches the self as it engages in worldly transactions. Seeing double may support the paranoid suspicion that an individual is actually two people, one divided against the other. As Rank demonstrates in his study, the double, as an emblem,of the soul, carries both a positive and negative valence. On the one hand our existence is confirmed by seeking reflections, versions of ourselves in mirrors, photographs, offspring, etc., yet if we are taken unawares by a double, we quail from it as a supernatural visitant. Thus the unsolicited sighting of a double, an embodiment of unsurmounted supernaturalism, marks the eruption of the uncanny into everyday life.