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Gender, sexuality and transgression
Author: Jenny DiPlacidi

This book demonstrates that incest was representative of a range of interests crucial to writers of the Gothic, often women or homosexual men who adopted a critical stance in relation to the heteronormative patriarchal world. In repositioning the Gothic, representations of incest are revealed as synonymous with the Gothic as a whole. The book argues that extending the traditional endpoint of the Gothic makes it possible to understand the full range of familial, legal, marital, sexual and class implications associated with the genre's deployment of incest. Gothic authors deploy the generic convention of incest to reveal as inadequate heteronormative ideologies of sexuality and desire in the patriarchal social structure that render its laws and requirements arbitrary. The book examines the various familial ties and incestuous relationships in the Gothic to show how they depict and disrupt contemporary definitions of gender, family and desire. Many of the methodologies adopted in Gothic scholarship and analyses of incest reveal ongoing continuities between their assumptions and those of the very ideologies Gothic authors strove to disrupt through their use of the incest trope. Methodologies such as Freudian psychoanalysis, as Botting argues, can be positioned as a product of Gothic monster-making, showing the effect of Gothic conventions on psychoanalytic theories that are still in wide use today.

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Victor Sage

Robert Mighall, A Geography of Victorian Gothic: Mapping Historys Nightmares; Andrew Smith, Gothic Radicalism: Literature, Philosophy and Psychoanalysis in the Nineteenth Century

Gothic Studies
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A discussion with China Miéville

An interview with China Miéville about the aesthetics and politics of Gothic, fantasy and weird fiction.

Gothic Studies
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Peter Schwenger

There is danger in a prolonged gaze, for it projects you into what you see. Julio Cortázar‘s story ‘Axolotl’ describes the narrators fascination with a species of salamander notable particularly for their eyes, that he discovers in the aquarium of the Jardin des Plantes. Near the story‘s end the narrator loses himself in those eyes and suddenly sees his own face pressed against the aquarium glass: he has become an axolotl. The exchange depicted here is akin to the trajectories of the gaze as depicted in Lacans Seminar XI. Together these two works suggest a gothic optics of uncanny power.

Gothic Studies
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Surfaces and Subtexts in the Popular Modernism of Agatha Christie‘s Hercule Poirot Series
Taryn Norman

In Detective Writers in England, Christie claims a detective story is an escape from the realism of everyday life; however, her Poirot series represents anxieties about the conditions of modernity through the conventions, images, and tones of the classic Gothic, a genre well established as providing a balance between escapism and historical commentary (xiii). While the earlier Poirot texts juxtapose the trappings of the Gothic– séances, curses, ghosts– against a rational modern world and produce a comical effect when these conventions are revealed as staged, as the conditions of modernity weigh upon Christie, particularly during World War II, her Poirot texts take on an increasingly sinister quality in which history itself is coded in Gothic terms.

Gothic Studies
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Sensationalising Substance Abuse in the Victorian Home
Tamara Wagner

Controversies about the mid-Victorian sensation novel newly brought to the fore clinical conceptualisations of novel reading as an addiction. Yet as novelists capitalised on the sensational potential of substance abuse at home as part of the genre‘s rupture of ideologies of domesticity, they juxtaposed the consumption of sensational material with other emotional and physical dependencies, while reading could be a panacea or cure. M. E. Braddon‘s John Marchmont‘s Legacy (1863) and Wilkie Collins‘s The Law and the Lady (1875) form particularly revealing examples of self-reflexive sensation novels that capitalise on a clinical Gothic of addiction by appropriating discourses that had, ironically, attacked the sensation genre most virulently.

Gothic Studies
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Murderous Midwives and Homicidal Obstetricians
Diana Pérez Edelman

Ever since the publication of Frankenstein, the Gothic has been read as an expression of the fears associated with scientific, technological, and medical advances. This essay argues that obstetrical medicine, from midwifery to obstetrics, is the most Gothic of medical pursuits because of its blurring of boundaries between male and female, natural and supernatural, mechanical and organic, life and death. From subterraneous passages to monstrosity, the professionalization of obstetrics over the course of the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth reads like a Gothic novel. Tracing the parallels between the Gothic aesthetic and several fictional and quasifictional accounts of obstetrical ‘stories’ - from the Warming Pan Scandal of 1688 to the work of Scottish obstetrician William Smellie and man mid-wife William Hunter - this essay demonstrates the Gothic nature of reproductive pursuits.

Gothic Studies
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The Role of Danger in the Critical Evaluation of The Monk and The Mysteries of Udolpho
L. Andrew Cooper

Gothic Threats argues that eighteenth-century British critics based their judgments of Gothic fictions on the fictions apparent capacity to help or hurt social order. If, like Matthew Lewiss The Monk, a novel seemed to corrupt the young, erode gender norms, encourage heretical belief in the supernatural, or foment revolution, critics condemned it. If, like Ann Radcliffes The Mysteries of Udolpho, a novel that seemed to fight against such threats, critics gave it the highest praise. This politically-determined pattern of “aesthetic” evaluation helped to establish the Gothics place in the hierarchy of high and low culture.

Gothic Studies
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Blood Ties and Vampire Television
Alison Peirse

Vancouver is not necessarily the first topic that springs to mind when discussing the production of vampire television. In an attempt to remedy this, the vampire television series Blood Ties (2007) is considered in relation to its Canadian production context. I explore the series political economy within an international framework (its production and distribution in Canada and its scheduling/exhibition and reception in the UK), suggesting that the Canadian qualities of the series are often wilfully ignored in distribution and reception. The ultimate failure of the series (running for only one season) is then located in relationship to the recent explosion of vampire fiction on domestic screens, where I suggest that Blood Ties inspires a form of Gothic television distinct from the American vampire series True Blood (2008-).

Gothic Studies
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Genre, Transformation, Transgression
Paulina Palmer

Palmer discusses Caeia March‘s Between The Worlds (1996) and Sarah Walter‘s Affinity (1999). Palmer argues that writers of lesbian fiction are drawn to the Gothic because it is a form which has traditionally given space to the representation of transgressive sexualities. The Gothic is also a vehicle through which the interrogation and problematising of mainstream versions of reality and so-called ‘normal’ values is made possible. Palmer argues that these novels parodically rework the grotesque portrayal of character, which is familiar from mainstream Gothic fiction and film, and in doing so they challenge and resignify the category of the abject to which lesbians and gay men are conventionally relegated.

Gothic Studies