The introduction to this collection of essays consists of a brief outline of the place of Italy and Italians in British culture as well as a summary of the topics addressed by the contributors. The Gothic novel engages with some of the commonplace assumptions associated with Italy since Shakespeare‘s time. The essays in this collection examine how Italy became a complex geographical and cultural entity based on the unprecedented historical and cultural context in which Gothic writers lived.
This article considers a unified polar Gothic as a way of examining texts set in Arctic
and Antarctic space. Through analysis of Coleridge‘s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,
Shelleys Frankenstein, and Poe‘s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket , the
author creates a framework for understanding polar Gothic, which includes liminal space,
the supernatural, the Gothic sublime, ghosts and apparitions, and imperial Gothic
anxieties about the degradation of civilisation. Analysing Verne‘s scientific-adventure
novel The Adventures of Captain Hatteras (1866) with this framework, the author
contextualises the continued public interest in the lost Franklin expedition and reflects
on nineteenth-century polar Gothic anxieties in the present day. Polar space creates an
uncanny potential for seeing ones own self and examining what lies beneath the surface of
ones own rational mind.
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.
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
The Self, the Social Order and the Trouble with Sympathy in the Romantic and Post-Modern Gothic
This essay is about the figure of the double in Romantic and post-modern Gothic literature and film. Most criticism of the double interprets this figure from the perspective of psychoanalysis. In contrast, this essay embeds the double in cultural history. In discussions of eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century discourses of ‘possessive individualism’, nationalism, and sexuality, this essay contends that the eighteenth century and the Romantic Period became dissatisfied with sympathy: with its inability to unify the social order without dissolving the crucial differences that distinguish one person from another. In response, Gothic literature invented the double to represent an extreme moment when two characters think, act, and feel so much alike that they can no longer be distinguished from each other. The essay offers two examples: Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein and Ridley Scott‘s Blade Runner.
Drunkenness and the Southern Gothic in Flannery O’Connor‘s The Violent Bear It Away
Lindsey Michael Banco
This essay explores a link, previously unremarked, in the Southern Gothic novelist Flannery O’Connors The Violent Bear It Away (1960) between the drunkenness of the novels protagonist and the idiot child he is compelled to baptize. Inspired by the possibility that much of the canon of American literature contains a symbolic economy of alcohol – what John Crowley calls ‘the White Logic’ – I argue that aligning the child with intoxication produces a poetics of addiction that helps explain the redemptive, revelatory climax of the novel in which O’Connors protagonist fulfills his religious destiny. The novel thus calls for a more complex understanding in American Gothic literature of the protean nature of intoxication.
Money, Commerce, Language, and the Horror of Modernity in ‘The Isle of Voices’
Money, not merely as subject in literature but also in its very form and function, exhibits qualities of spectral evanescence, fetishised power over the imagination, and the uncontrollable transgression of boundaries and limits, which closely parallel the concerns and anxieties of Gothic literature. Yet it is in the writings of economic theorists and commentators on market society like Adam Smith and Karl Marx that these Gothic anxieties about money are most clearly articulated. Stevensons short story ‘The Isle of Voices’, read in the context of his comments on money in his other writings, is one of the few fictional texts which uses these properties of money to create what might be called a ‘financial Gothic’ narrative, which nevertheless has insights and implications for the narratives of capitalist modernity in general.
Throughout the nineteenth century, the term ‘uncomfortable houses’ was used to describe properties where restless spirits made life unpleasant for any living persons who tried to claim these supernatural residences as their own. This article uses the idea of ‘uncomfortable houses’ to examine how this ghostly discomfort related to larger cultural issues of economics and class in Victorian Britain. Authors such as Charlotte Riddell and Margaret Oliphant used the haunted house story as a means of social critique which commented on the financial problems facing many lower- and middle-class Victorians. Their stories focus on the moral development of the protagonists and reconciliation through the figure of the ghost, ultimately giving readers the happy endings that many male-authored ghost stories lack. Riddell‘s ‘The Old House in Vauxhall Walk’ and ‘Walnut-Tree House’ and Oliphant‘s ‘The Open Door’ serve as important examples of this ‘suburban Gothic’ literature.
In the early gothic literature of the eighteenth century danger lurked in the darkness beneath the pointed arches of gothic buildings. During the nineteenth century, there was a progressive, although never complete, dislocation of gothic literary readings from gothic architecture. This article explores a phase in that development through discussion of a series of dark illustrations produced by Hablot Knight Browne to illustrate novels by Charles Dickens. These show the way in which the rounded arches of neo-classical architecture were depicted in the mid-nineteenth century as locales of oppression and obscurity. Such depictions acted, in an age of political and moral reform, to critique the values of the system of power and authority that such architecture represented.
While the importance of space in Gothic literature and the role of spectacle in the staging of late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century British Gothic drama have received much attention, little has been written about how Gothic dramatic writing gestures with space. By looking at how dramatic writers rhetorically used Gothics politically and psychologically charged spaces in their dramatic works for stage and page, this essay explores how space functions in pre-realist drama. The essay shows how a rhetoric of space functions in three examples of Gothic theatrical writing - Matthew Lewis‘s The Castle Spectre, Catherine Gore‘s The Bond, and Jane Scott‘sThe Old Oak Chest - and suggests that British Gothic dramas spatial rhetoric anticipates cinematic uses of space.