Anglo-Saxon ‘things’ could talk. Nonhuman voices leap out from the Exeter Book Riddles, telling us how they were made or how they behave. In The Husband’s Message, runic letters are borne and a first-person speech is delivered by some kind of wooden artefact. Readers of The Dream of the Rood will come across a tree possessing the voice of a dreaming human in order to talk about its own history as a gallows and a rood. The Franks Casket is a box of bone that alludes to its former fate as a whale that swam aground onto the shingle, and the Ruthwell monument is a stone column that speaks as if it were living wood, or a wounded body. This book uncovers the voice and agency that these nonhuman things have across Anglo-Saxon literature and material culture. It makes a new contribution to ‘thing theory’ and rethinks conventional divisions between animate human subjects and inanimate nonhuman objects in the early Middle Ages. Anglo-Saxon writers and craftsmen describe artefacts and animals through riddling forms or enigmatic language, balancing an attempt to speak and listen to things with an understanding that these nonhumans often elude, defy and withdraw from us. The active role that things have in the early medieval world is also linked to the Germanic origins of the word, where a þing is a kind of assembly, with the ability to draw together other elements, creating assemblages in which human and nonhuman forces combine. Anglo-Saxon things teach us to rethink the concept of voice as a quality that is not simply imposed upon nonhumans but which inheres in their ways of existing and being in the world; they teach us to rethink the concept of agency as arising from within groupings of diverse elements, rather than always emerging from human actors alone.
Antonio Fogazzaro‘s Malombra combines features of the Gothic novel with an interest in the environment, natural and artificial. The story of a woman who lives in a Palazzo and believes she is the reincarnation of her late ancestor unfolds a narrative constantly engaged with the issues of place and space. Human and nonhuman features play a significant role in the narrative within whose complex and intricate setting the characters interact. By focusing on the main character‘s engagement with the surrounding world the article aims at shedding a new light on the long discussed issues of double identity, showing how the novel portrays instead a symbiotic relationship with the environment.
Crude Metonymies and Tobe Hooper‘s Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
My analysis of Tobe Hooper‘s Texas Chain Saw Massacre centralizes the films political setting: an early 1970s Texas gas station that has no fuel and that offers only death to those who assume petroleums easy purchase. Such a move shifts critical attention from the film‘s monstrous bodies to its Gothic economy and the dead ends of corporate US oil culture. In Chain Saw, metonymies of blood and oil signify not only the material history of Texas oil and the seemingly unstoppable machinery of capitalism, but also the tremendous gap – or ‘gulf ’ – between human and nonhuman persons.
I undertake a nonanthropocentric discussion of vampirism in Dracula, employing an EcoGothic approach to examine how the relation between the consumption of nonhuman flesh and blood reflects the evolving meaning of species, nation, and gender in nineteenth-century European society. I argue that flesh consumption plays an important role in the development of nutritional allegories and nonhuman vampirism. I show how Jonathan Harker‘s adherence, and the Counts resistance, to the dominant, meat-eating ideology destablise the carnal borderline between the species and how the distinctions between carnivorism and cannibalism trope the nonhuman and unhuman bodies as specular sites of death and horror.
In a recent edition of Atlantic Studies, Hester Blum outlined the methodological
approaches appropriate to the emergent field of oceanic studies, arguing that such work
should prioritise the oceans material conditions, their nonhuman scale and depth
andmulti-dimensional flux. Our aims in this essay are twofold: to consider the
implications oceanic studies has for scholars of the Gothic while also considering the
ways in which there is already a decidedly Gothic dimension to a critical framework
championing nonhuman scale and depth and multi-dimensional flux. The literary analysis for
this essay is rooted in a range of Gothic sea poetry. The poems explorations of depth, we
argue, assert the prominence and pre-eminence of the uncanny nonhuman forms inhabiting the
ocean, while the deep is shown to be a site haunted by the accumulation of history in
which past blends with present, and where spatiality and temporality become unmoored from
and exceed their traditional (or terrestrial) qualities.
In this essay I argue that Frankenstein‘s monster, as a being constructed, in part, from nonhuman animal remains obtained from slaughterhouses, is literally a bizarre by-product of meat-eating. Frankensteins monster is a ‘monster’ because he is meat that was not consumed and brought back to life. What was intended for the human table comes to life and threatens the social order. The fact that the monster is a vegetarian thus becomes essential for an understanding of Shelley‘s novel. The Gothic narrative of Frankenstein is not one of a supernatural nature; rather the Gothic narrative within the text is the one that confronts the seemingly natural system of carnivorism.
That colonialism has associations with eighteenth century humanism is not a controversial claim. The eighteenth century with its fascination with how the subject knows has a central place in Foucault‘s account of the rise of the human sciences in The Order of Things. More recently Leela Gandhi has explored how the virtual construction of subjectivity in the eighteenth century was closely associated with the conceptual formulation of humanity. In these humanist constructions the human became defined by its relation to the non-human in a process where ideas about racial difference were used to form the hierarchies in which subjects were racially located. For Foucault, in the eighteenth century, the subject becomes both an object of knowledge (one that is understood ‘scientifically‘) and a subject who knows one that is interpreted `metaphysically`). This apparently scientific reading of the ‘objective status‘ of the subject reflects on the construction of race as an indicator of Otherness. The wider claim made by Leela Gandhi is that this position has a vestigial presence in much of todays `science‘. It is this correlation between race and certain pseudo-scientific taxonomies relating to race which underpin, in the nineteenth century, those theories of degeneration that attempted to account for perceptions of imperial decline, and it is these ideas that influenced Stoker‘s writings. Most notably Dracula has received considerable critical attention on the novels reliance on a model of degeneracy that articulates contemporary anxieties relating to criminality and race; this common view of Dracula is one that associates the Other (the vampire) with theories of degeneracy. The novel is also, arguably self-consciously so, about knowledge. The oddly unheroic pursuit of the vampire hunters is apparent in their search through documentation in order to develop an explanatory theory for vampirism. It is this pursuit of knowledge which is also to be found in A,Glimpse of America (1886) and The Mystery of the Sea (1902). Knowledge as knowledge of the national and/or racial Other is the central issue to which Stoker keeps returning.
In chapter 7, Leung presents the second analytical lens: actor–network theory. She
opens the chapter describing Australia as a country in which the use of digital
technology is part of everyday life for most people. This situation can be construed as
a scenario in which both human and non-human actors establish a network, characterised
by symmetry between the social and the technical ( Latour, 1999 , 2005 ). Leung relies
on actor–network theory to reject the binary conceptualisation of
begin to envision the possible end of COVID-19 as a pandemic and adjust to a
‘new normal’ in a world with effective vaccines, where the disease remains
present but causes far fewer serious illnesses and deaths, there is an urgent need to
both address the layers of this syndemic – the health problems that have been
overlooked and amplified during the COVID-19 crisis – and look ahead to future
threats. SARS-CoV-2 is considered to be of zoonotic origin, having arisen in a non-human
Ruckenstein and Schüll, we must also consider the
nonhuman elements that shape wearables, such as ‘device
parameters and affordances, analytical algorithms, data infrastructure, and data
itself, as well as the processes and practices around them’ ( Ruckenstein and Schüll, 2017 :
A key question in the critical wearables literature is what role digital technologies
have played in transforming and commodifying the social fields and bodies involved