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A cultural history
Author: Andrew Smith

This book examines the British ghost story within the political contexts of the long nineteenth century. By relating the ghost story to economic, national, colonial and gendered contexts it provides a critical re-evaluation of the period. The conjuring of a political discourse of spectrality during the nineteenth century enables a culturally sensitive reconsideration of the work of writers including Dickens, Collins, Charlotte Riddell, Vernon Lee, May Sinclair, Kipling, Le Fanu, Henry James and M.R. James. Additionally, a chapter on the interpretation of spirit messages reveals how issues relating to textual analysis were implicated within a language of the spectral.

Andrew Smith

By exploring how laughter is represented in Kipling‘s ghost stories this article attempts a re-evaluation of how colonial and postcolonial identities can be theorised within the Gothic. Laughter, and the disorientation that it provokes, is accorded a Gothic function that destabilises images of colonial authority.

Gothic Studies
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M. R. James at the Edge of the Frame
Scott Brewster

This article examines the effects of distracted sight, peripheral objects and hazily-perceived images in the ghost stories of M. R. James. It argues that the uncanny illumination produced by the accidental glance in his tales bears affinity with many Gothic narratives, including those of E. T. A. Hoffmann and Margaret Oliphant. James‘s work has often solicited only a casual look from critics, yet his exploration of the haunted edge of vision not only grants his work a hitherto neglected complexity, but also places him firmly within the Gothic tradition.

Gothic Studies
Sibling Rivalry in Elizabeth Gaskell‘s The Old Nurse‘s Story
David Galef

Elizabeth Gaskell s The Old Nurse s Story (1852) occupies a shadowy middle ground between Gothic tale and case history. Concerning sibling rivalry and parental abuse recollected from the vantage of old age, it is both a ghost story and a narrative of maternal absence, paternal domination, transference, and the return of the repressed. Using both psychoanalysis and Gothic genre criticism, this essay traces, in miniature, the Victorian movement from spirits to sexual psychology.

Gothic Studies
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The Ghost Story As Female Gothic
Diana Wallace

Wallace explores nineteenth-century ghost stories written by Elizabeth Gaskell, and later tales by May Sinclair, and Elizabeth Bowen. Using ideas drawn from Modleski and Irigaray she argues that such tales explore how a patriarchal culture represses/buries images of the maternal. She further argues that the ghost story enabled women writers to evade the marriage plots which dominated the earlier Radcliffean Female Gothic, meaning that they could offer a more radical critique of male power, violence and predatory sexuality than was possible in either the realist, or indeed Gothic, novel. Wallace argues that the ghost story functions as the ‘double’ or the ‘unconscious’ of the novel, giving form to what has to be repressed in the longer, more ‘respectable’ form.

Gothic Studies
Melissa Edmundson

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.

Gothic Studies
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Andrew Smith

In February 1848 Dickens reviewed Catherine Crowe’s The Night Side of Nature; or, Ghosts and Ghost Seers (1848) for The Examiner . Crowe’s collection of supposedly verifiable ghost stories was dismissed by Dickens on two grounds: the metaphysical and the literary. Dickens argued that spectres were not metaphysical entities but the product of organic disease by

in The ghost story, 1840–1920
The ghost story on British television
Helen Wheatley

‘A basic policy of ultimate good taste’: the television ghost story One of the key challenges in the presentation of the Gothic on television has to be the representation of the unrepresentable. Whether that be an invisible ghost passing through a room, manifesting as a change of temperature or a barely perceptible shadow in the corner of one’s eye, or an indescribable

in Gothic television
Sight, money, and reading the ghost story
Andrew Smith

Guppy’s eager response suggests a familiarity with ghost stories – that they are stylised and conventional but nevertheless generate narrative expectations. However, there is also ambivalence here because Guppy has just realised that Esther Summerson resembles the portrait of Lady Dedlock, and his question thus infers a relationship between them. For Mrs Rouncewell the ‘story has nothing to do with a

in The ghost story, 1840–1920
The female ghost story
Andrew Smith

It is crucial to acknowledge the major contribution that women writers made to the ghost story during the period. The selection of authors discussed here is necessarily limited but gives a representative flavour of how women writers engaged with the specific issues of love, money, and history. There is the danger that such a thematic approach simplifies the range of the female

in The ghost story, 1840–1920