earlier twentieth-century aesthetic legacy
centered upon a belief in the disruptive power of explicit sexual imagery
that is split between the informe’s ambivalence and teasing
superficiality, which is to say the play of surfaces that promises but does
not deliver depth, and a brutal fascination with what is visceral and
abject. In both cases, however, the work is notable for its ability to
resist interpretation and to make a
Gothic Terror(ism) and Post-Devolution Britain in Skyfall
The article examines the phenomenon of terrorism presented in Sam Mendes‘s film Skyfall (2012), with relation to Julia Kristeva‘s concept of the abject, developed further by Robert Miles in the context of nationalism and identity. While exploring the extraterritorial nature of terrorism, which in Skyfall breaches the borders of the symbolic order, threatening the integrity of the British nation-state represented by M, Bond, and MI6, the article also focuses on the relationship between the major characters, whose psychological tensions represent the country‘s haunting by the ghosts of colonialism, as Britain is forced to revisit its imperial past(s) and geographies at the fragile moment of post-devolutionary changes.
Détournement, abjection and
disidentification in The Blacks
The black body is the object of a strange ambivalence. As soon as it ventures
beyond its accepted perimeters – sports stadia or concert arenas – the black
body never fails to shock or indeed to disturb. (Condé, in Lionnet, 2001: 6;
In my reading of The Balcony, I showed how Genet disclosed the wound
inflicted upon French society in the 1950s by the increasing spectacularisation of everyday life. In this chapter, I look at how his 1958 play The
Blacks opened other hidden
interpretations and reimaginings. Novelists, filmmakers, comic-book writers and artists in endless other media have been haunted by the Creature-turned-monster. Its composite quality can in many ways be read as an exceptional example of the abject, which, as Julia Kristeva puts it, ‘disturbs identity, system, order’. She argues that the abject ‘does not respect borders, positions, rules’, and remains ‘the in-between, the ambiguous, the composite’ (4). Is it the Creature’s deformed body that repulses or scares Victor, for instance, or its nearly human shape? The monster’s body
Ranging from Horace Walpole to Angela Carter, this essay contributes to an emergent theory of the Gothic. Its argument is that ‘Gothic’ is the name for the speaking subjects experience of approaching what Jacques Lacan has termed ‘the Thing’, and that the processes of sublimation and abjection are what structure the experience of that approach.
Though pointedly raising its literary pedigree with allusions to ‘high’ literature from Percy‘s RELIQUES to Spensers FAIRIE QUEENE, Coleridge‘s ‘Christabel’ (1799-1801) still draws heavily on the very Gothic fiction of the 1790s that he condemns as ‘low’ writing in reviews of the same period. Especially Gothic is this poems alter-ego relationship between the title character and the vampiric Geraldine. This peculiar use of echoes extends the many jibes of this period that blame the many literary changes of this time (including a mass-produced effulgence of printed writing and a frightening blurring of genres) on the Gothic as a kind of scapegoat for the cultural upheaval of this era. The Gothic is, in fact, a site for what Kristeva calls ‘abjection’: the cultural ‘throwing off’ of intermingled contradictions,into a symbolic realm that seems blatantly fictional and remote. As such a site, the Gothic in ‘Christabel’ haunts the poem with unresolved cultural quandaries that finally contribute to its unfinished, fragmentary nature. One such quandary is what is abjected in the Gothic relationship of the heroine and Geraldine: the irresolution at the time about the nature and potentials of woman.
This essay introduces this special issue on ‘Romanticism and the “New Gothic”’, which contains revisions of essays presented at a special seminar at the 1999 joint conferences of the International Gothic Association (IGA) and the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism (NASSR) held in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Hogle argues that the ‘Gothic’ as a highly counterfeit and generically mixed mode in the eighteenth century was a quite new, rather than revived old, aesthetic which allowed for the disguised projection - or really abjection - of current middle-class cultural fears into symbols that only seemed antiquated, supernatural, or monstrous on the surface. Romantic writers thus faced this mode as a symbolic location where feared anomalies of their own moment could be faced and displaced, and such writers reacted to this possibility using some similar and quite different techniques. Post-Romantic writers, in turn, ranging from Emily Dickinson all the way to the writers and directors of modern films with Gothic elements, have since proceeded to make the Gothic quite new again, in memory of and reaction to Romantic-era uses of the new Gothic. This recurrent remaking of the Gothic comes less from the survival of certain features and more from the cultural purposes of displacing new fears into symbols that recall both the eighteenth-century Gothic and Romantic redactions of it. The papers in this special issue cover different points in this history of a complex relationship among aesthetic modes.
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.
This essay examines the proliferation of visual representations of Robert Louis Stevenson‘s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), considering the question of what links contemporary (Scottish?) Gothic to its problematic origins. After a survey of cinematic and graphic adaptations, the essay focuses on Steven Moffatt‘s Jekyll (BBC, 2007), which combines the post-Darwinian anxieties surrounding Stevensons tale of human regression with a much more contemporary interrogation of the ‘human’ against the backdrop of complex globalised scientific conspiracies. Significantly, the production draws on the Scottish origin of the text, re-proposing the question of (national) identity and authenticity against the threat of globalisation.
The Viscous Palimpsest of Charles Maturin‘s
Melmoth the Wanderer
Keith M.C. O‘Sullivan
Charles Maturin‘s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) is often considered the last major work in
the corpus of Romantic-period Gothic. This paper draws upon that text and Maturin‘s
correspondence, especially his sermons, in which the author incarnates a rich matrix of
dichotomies, to offer a reading of the subtle metatextual and autobiographical qualities
of the novel. Maturin‘s conflicted identity as clergyman and literary parvenu afford
understanding of the nature of, and challenges posed by, this complex work. Like Maturin‘s
preaching, Melmoth bears witness to and sympathy with its time. Yet it also bears the
imprints or multiple scripts of historical and psychological forces contributing to its
formation. Ostensibly a Gothic romance engaged with the dialectic of high Romanticism, it
is shown to be a self-reflexive text, with ambivalence towards its own literary form. The
plethora of tales within Maturin‘s novel represent an attempt to convey and self-validate
a fabric of a created national history, but Melmoth is shown to both use and indict the
ideological structures that it has employed to create its own texture. It is suggested
that detail of torture and anatomisation of belief represent an unconscious