Queer As Folk and the geo-ideological inscription of gay sexuality
In this essay I explore the ways in which, within a geo-ideological analysis of the controversial Channel 4 drama series Queer As Folk, one may view fundamental issues regarding the politics of the representation of gay sexuality. My use of a popular cultural colloquialism, ‘kinky sex’, is deliberately, ironically provocative. Within that term are potent subtextual signifiers of erotic otherness and exotic marginalised positions: the ‘kink’ is simultaneously ‘bent’ (a diminutive pejorative of homosexuals) whilst, as a deviation from a restrictive normative
Examining Alfred Hitchcock‘s Rebecca in terms of the Gothic convention of non-realist doubled and split characters, this essay argues that the slippage of desire between characters, male as well as female, complicates the containment of the dead Rebecca and whatever she represents. Although the splitting of the female protagonist into the unnamed heroine, the ghostly Rebecca and her surrogate Mrs Danvers has been extensively discussed, the use of this strategy as it concerns the male characters has been less often noticed. The replication of the male protagonist, Maxim, by two other male characters at once deepens him psychologically and contaminates him with ghostliness. These two conflicting manoeuvres strengthen his connection with both his wives, the dead as much as the living. But even while the treatment of Maxim empowers Rebecca and her successor, the movie‘s depiction of male bonding invites a questioning of the extent of female agency.
This article provides a reading of gender politics in cyberpunk, drawing upon the Gothic, the cyborg and the (post)feminist subject. This reading is effected through an account of the ass-kicking techno-babe, a crucial component of the masculine strand of cyberpunk which valorises a masculinity and technology dialectic and draws upon film noir, with its hardboiled detectives and monstrous femmes fatales. From Molly Million‘s in Neuromancer to Y.T. in Neal Stephenson‘s Snow Crash (1992) and Trinity in Andy and Larry Wachowski‘s Matrix trilogy (1999–2003), this figure of the femme fatale demonstrates that the (post)feminist project of the ass-kicking techno-babe has found a home in the Gothic aesthetics of the noir-inf(l)ected genre of cyberpunk. The account of how hyper-sexualised cyborgic female bodies are positioned in contrast with the repressed bodies of male hackers reveals the destabilising conundrum of supposed agency contained by the determinacy of the (post)feminist body.
In 1807, the Duchess of Bedford and several of her circle attended a performance of the opera The First Attempt at Dublin‘s Theatre Royal. Their hair was not coifed in the style of the day but rather swept up and fastened with golden bodkins in the ancient Irish manner. Soon this became all the rage in polite Irish society, and Dublin jewellers, struggling to compete, took out advertisements to accuse other firms of making less than authentic replicas. Indeed, the great demand in Dublin for these golden bodkins inflated the price of gold in Ireland. Drapers soon saw a business opportunity in this Celtic fashion renaissance and started producing the `Glorvina Mantle, a flowing scarlet cape, ideally secured with golden replicas of Celtic broaches. Eventually these ancient Gaelic styles made their way to London and became fashionable among ladies from the upper class. The popularity of this exotic dress resulted from a confluence of factors. While the growing interest in Irish antiquarianism, the European fascination with orientalism and the popularity of Gothic romance fed the fire, the spark that ignited the blaze was The Wild Irish Girl, a novel written by a young Irish governess. Not only does this fashion craze bear witness to the popularity of the text, but so do the sales figures. This popular novel, first published in 1806, went through seven editions in two years, and was even successful on the Continent, especially in Germany, where the young authors popularity almost eclipsed Scott‘s and Byron‘s and her sales figures surpassed those of her fellow Irish writers, Maria Edgeworth and Charles Maturin. In fact, the great Gothic writer Maturin openly borrowed from The Wild Irish Girl in his own work.
The Garlic Flower in Bram Stoker’s Hermeneutic Garden
This article explores the use of floral symbolism within Gothic fiction of the
fin de siècle. Taking as a basis the language of flower
anthologies popularised throughout the nineteenth century, it investigates how
this notoriously unstable floral language filtered through into the popular
Gothic fiction at the end of the century. Whilst authors of Gothic may have
adhered to existing codes and associations pertaining to particular flowers,
they also destabilised traditional meaning, and introduced a new floral lexicon
into the popular imagination. The article primarily considers Bram Stoker’s
Dracula in an attempt to locate floral significance through
consideration of the production and widely discussed political agenda of the
text. Through a close reading of Dracula’s garlic flower, the
article asks whether there might be a Gothic language of flowers situated within
the narrative that bears comparison with other Gothic fictions of the period and
This article seeks to provide an account of the political biases at stake in the conceptualisation of medieval English history in Ethelwina, Or The House of Fitz-Auburne (1799), the first fiction of the prolific Gothic romancer-turned-Royal Body Guard T. J. Horsley, Curties. Having considered Curties‘s portrayal of the reign of King Edward III in the narrative in relation to formal historiographies of the period, the article turns to address the politics of Curties‘s appropriation of Shakespeare‘s Hamlet.
Servant Negotiations of Gender and Class in Ann
Radcliffe‘s The Romance of the Forest
Male servants in Ann Radcliffe‘s early Gothic novels are frequently underexplored in
critical examinations of gender identity in Radcliffe‘s literary politics due to a long
tradition of social and literary marginalisation. However, class-specific masculine
identities built on a socio-moral and political ideologies and domestic anxieties are not
only particularly evident in Radcliffe‘s The Romance of the Forest (1791), but also
effectively problematise an already unstable masculine ideal therein. Servant masculine
identity in Radcliffe‘s work is developed through the contrast between servant characters
and their employers, through examples of potentially revolutionary active and narrative
agency by male servants, and through the instance of the heroine and male servants joint
flight from the Gothic space. This article will establish that the male servant character
in the early Gothic novel is essential to understanding socio-gendered identity in
Radcliffe‘s work, and that thisfi gure s incorporation in Gothic class and gender politics
merits further examination.
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.
Postfeminist Vampirism in Margaret Atwood‘s The Robber Bride
The article examines Margaret Atwood‘s The Robber Bride in terms of Gothic imagery and postfeminist politics. The novel depicts three characteristically second wave women whose lives are disrupted by Zenia, the embodiment of postfeminism. Zenia threatens the stability of the women and they respond to her with both loathing and desire, experiencing her as a vampire feeding on their lives. The Robber Bride connects the subversive power of Gothic to the multiple identities, transgressions and instabilities of postfeminism. Using a common second wave feminist psychoanalytic rereading of Gothic terror as fear of confinement, I suggest that Atwood‘s depiction of Zenia as a Gothic figure points to some concerns about second wave feminist politics. The location of Zenia as both Self and Other raises questions about postfeminisms situation as a reactionary backlash against feminism, and equally as a liberal politics that many late twentieth-century women were increasingly identifying with.