This article engages with the discourse of food and eating especially as related to the representation of the abject eating-disordered body. I will be particularly interested in the gothic representation of the anorexic and bulimic body in samples of medical advice literature and NHS websites and how they reinforce popular myths about anorexia by imagining the eating disordered body as a fixed object of abjection. Focusing on the use of gothic devices, tropes and narrative structure, these imaginations will be read against alternative representations of anorexic/bulimic bodies in autobiographical illness narratives, fictional accounts and a psychoanalytical case history in order to explore how gothic discourses can help opening up new understandings and conceptions of illness, healing and corporeality in the dialogue between medical staff and patients.
Aquarium Colonies and Nineteenth-Century Narratives of Marine Monstrosity
In this essay the author proposes that a detailed study of the context of the production and reception of the spate of best-selling marine natural history books published in the 1850s provides an important and neglected opportunity for understanding Victorian conceptions of evolutionary,and anthropological monstrosity. Whilst the ape has received a good deal of attention as the primary evolutionary icon, through which the Victorians dreamed their nightmares of descent, the marine invertebrate has been much neglected. However, represented by evolutionists as the first life forms on the planet from which all higher life forms had evolved, marine invertebrates were an important alternative evolutionary ancestor, and were used to express ideas about the `nature of class, race and masculinity‘.
This article argues that the allegorical interpretations of the Gothic sublime made by materialist critics like Franco Moretti and Judith Halberstam unavoidably reduce Gothic excess and uncanniness to a realist understanding and, thereby, ironically de-materialize Gothic monstrosity by substituting for it a realistic meaning. This essay, instead, advocates a psychoanalytic critical reception that demonstrates how the essential uncanniness of the Gothic novel makes all realistic interpretation falter. Rather than interpreting Frankensteins creature as a condensed figure for proletarian formation or Dracula as an allegory for xenophobia, for instance, this article insists that the Gothic uncanny should be understood as figuring that which can only be viewed figuratively, as figuring that which has no space within a realistic understanding.
This article will analyse (the lack of) telepathic connection between the characters of Edward and Bella in Meyers Twilight Saga and compare it to the subliminal link between the Transylvanian vampire and Mina in Dracula. The lack of a telepathic bond between the two characters will be read as a contradiction of the original concept of telepathy. The Twilight Saga is interpreted as a postmodern representation of vampires which both reprises and subverts the precedent literary and cinematographic narratives of such,‘monsters’.
Monstrosity, Ecocriticism and Socio-Political
Anxieties in Two Sea Narratives
This article analyses two recent American rewritings of the Leviathan myth: Dan Simmons‘s
The Terror (2007) and Tim Curran‘s Leviathan (2013). Belonging to a tradition that has
fruitfully elaborated the sea monster paradigm, both novels respond to current concerns
about the spiritual and ethical decline of Western culture, the perils of anarchy, the
monetarization of relations, and the impending ecological disasters. Besides exploring the
biblical and Hobbesian intertextuality of the two novels, the article investigates various
meanings coalescing into the scary creatures represented by Simmons and Curran. Two other
objects of scrutiny are the increasing spectacularization of horror in todays literature
and the potentiality of nautical Gothic, a form of writing that connotes the sea as a
perturbing generator of psychoontological distress.
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.
Sodomy, Abjection and Gothic Fiction in the Early Nineteenth Century
The essay looks at the public vilification of the sodomites exposed in the Vere Street scandal in the early nineteenth‐century and suggests a connection between these acts of violence and the violence that occurs in Gothic fiction of the same period.
This essay examines the Gothic trope of monstrosity in a range of literary and historical works, from writings on the French Revolution to Mary Shelleys Frankenstein to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I argue that, in the various versions of the Frankenstein myth, what has ultimately come to seem most monstrous is the uncanny coupling of literary and political discourse. Beginning with Jacobin and anti-Jacobin discourse, this essay traces the tendency of literary tropes to turn into political tropes. In Frankenstein and in the Victorian rewritings of Shelley‘s novel, the trope of monstrosity functions, with remarkable consistency, as a mechanism which enables the unstable and often revolutionary turns between aesthetic and ideological discourse. Because the trope of monstrosity at the heart of Frankenstein exists on the border between literary and political discourse that trope has emerged as one of the most crucial forces in current critical theoretical debates about the relationship between aesthetics and ideology.
Neoconservative Hunters and Terrorist Vampires in Joe Ahearne‘s Ultraviolet (1998)
A consideration of the ways in which the discourse of monstrosity, once deployed against a political enemy, closes off open debate and undermine the values of those who argue that the ends needed to defeat them justify any means used. This article explores the parallels between the neoconservative rhetoric of the War on Terror with that of the vampire hunters in Joe Ahearnes television show Ultraviolet (1998), as both deny their enemies the status of political subjects. It offers a reading of the show in light of Slavoj Žižeks call to evaluate the arguments of both sides in such moralised conflicts.