Felicia Hemans and Burial at Sea in the Nineteenth-Century
This article identifies sea-burial as a topos of the early nineteenth-century imaginary
that draws on both Gothic tropes and Romantic reformulations of Gothic aesthetics in order
to signal a sea changed poetics of shifting dislocation, decay, and denial in the work of
Felicia Hemans. The loss of a corpse at sea makes visible the extent to which any act of
posthumous identification relies upon a complex network actively maintained by the living.
This article will also develop our understanding of the ways in which Gothic tropes of
burial might extend into specifically maritime literary cultures of the early nineteenth
century. This strand of a nautical Gothic reflects not only nineteenth-century anxieties
about nautical death but the corporeality of both individual and cultural memory. Such
representations of sea-burial negotiate a nautical Gothic aesthetic that might propel new
understanding of the relationship between poetry and the material dimensions of affective
Elizabeth Stuart Phelps‘s Gothic short story Kentucky‘s Ghost (1868) is amongst the most
distinctive of ghost-child narratives to be published in the nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries. This is owing, foremost, to its unique topographical and social
setting; taking place at sea amongst an all-male crew of mostly lower-class sailors,
rather than in the large suburban or rural house of middle or upper-class families that
were typical of this Anglo-American literary sub-genre. This article considers the
child-figure in Phelpss tale within intersecting frameworks: firstly, within a tradition
of nautical folklore that is integral to producing the tales Gothic tone. Secondly, within
a contemporary context of frequently romanticised depictions of child-stowaways in
literature, but a reality in which they were subjected to horrific abuse. Finally, her
tale is discussed as a reformist piece that, despite its singularities, draws on darker
versions of literary and folkloric dead-child traditions to produce a terrifying tale of
Urban legends and their adaptation in horror cinema
Mikel J. Koven
Urban legends, those apocryphal stories told in university dormitories and around campfires about hook-handed psycho-killers and boyfriends discovered hanging above the parked cars, are a form of oral literature. This chapter explores the adaptive processes these largely formless narratives have undergone to be made into mainstream cinematic horror narratives. It expands on Paul Smith's typology by considering some of the structural issues of the urban legend film, that is, films based primarily or largely on orally circulated belief narratives. The chapter defines some of the more textual dimensions to the urban legend horror film in an effort to expand on what Smith began. It identifies four main narrative strategies that filmmakers avail themselves to within Smith's 'complete plot' category: extended, resultant, structuring and fusion narratives. The chapter summarises two multi-strand narratives: fusion narratives and anthologies.
Horror and the avant-garde in the cinema of Ken Jacobs
This chapter examines how the contemporary experimental filmmaker Ken Jacobs adapts the legacy of magic. His work might seem a bit out of place in the context of the horror genre. Jacobs' work, like much of the American avant-garde, rages against the commodification of the image and its seemingly passive consumption. With his seminal film Tom Tom the Piper's Son, Jacobs rescues a 1905 Biograph slapstick movie of the same name from cinematic oblivion. Cinema emerged in the late nineteenth century, accompanying capitalism's monstrous progeny: alienated production and the fetishised commodity. Jacobs' 'Nervous Magic Lantern' apparatus is similar to his 'Nervous System' performances, but it pares the cinematic experience down to even more primitive elements. Adapting the lens of the horror genre to Jacobs' 'Nervous Magic Lantern' and 'Nervous System' performances is particularly apt.
This chapter maps the received tradition of the Gothic on to the Bollywood Gothic noir. The tradition, it is argued, as it comes to India, is mediated by both the literary Gothic and the pervasive power of the Hollywood film and Gothic noirs. The form that the Bollywood Gothic noir takes is a function of a compromise as the received Western literary and filmic Gothic is deployed to articulate a specifically Hindu narrative of reincarnation. Whereas the idea of an afterdeath in the Western Gothic carried as its basic affect the concept of the uncanny and was alarmingly anti-redemptive, reincarnation narrative postulated that the uncanny was a pre-given capable of recall. However, the presence of the filmic and the literary Gothic as part of a world-literary system now disturbs the seamless and affirmative narrative of Hindu reincarnation by introducing the darker side of karmic retribution.
The ecoGothic sensibilities of Mary Shelley and Nathaniel Hawthorne
This chapter argues that Shelley and Hawthorne adapt traditional Gothic imagery to environmental contexts in order to create two distinctly different ecoGothic visions of the extinction of humanity. Drawing on ideas advanced by ecocritics, conservation biologists, and psychoanalytic thinkers, this chapter describes the historical context and emotional import of extinction science and its impact on Shelley and Hawthorne. Taking up The Last Man and The Ambitious Guest, respectively, the chapter contrasts Shelley’s view of nature as a indiscriminate force that slaughters millions of innocent humans, with Hawthorne’s view of nature as a vengeful force that punishes a small, symbolically significant group of sinful humans. It concludes by noting that it was Hawthorne’s brand of ecoGothic writing, not Shelley’s, that eventually became immensely popular with late-twentieth-century writers and filmmakers.
Australian Gothic represents a mode, a stance and an atmosphere, after the fashion of American Film Noir, with the appellation suggesting the inclusion of horrific and fantastic materials comparable to those of Gothic literature. The perversity of rural townships and their residents forms the basis of Gothic texts which in other respects reflect debts to generic entertainment, social polemics, fantasy and allegory. Peter Weir's first feature production The Cars That Ate Paris portrays the Outback town as the seat of deranged authority. The considerable commercial success of Mad Max (1979) and Mad Max 2 (1981) both at home and abroad is attributable to the strong generic basis for their narratives, characterisation and iconography. Max's heroic tasks grow in stature and destructiveness as the cycle progresses. In the cases of Walkabout and Shame, a significant part of the horror resides in the defamiliarisation of natural and human landscapes away from urbanisation.
The contrasting fortunes of Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh television drama in the 1990s
This chapter looks at popular television drama from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in the 1990s. It suggests that the BBC's faith in the need for a broader, more flexible idea of Britishness does not yet extend to its commissioning of programmes that they hope will have genuinely broad appeal. Ballykissangel was made for BBC Northern Ireland by Tony Garnett's Island World Productions. In terms of commissioning and popularity, BBC Scotland's biggest success by far in the 1990s was Hamish Macbeth. Tiger Bay was probably BBC Wales's biggest play for a genuinely mass appeal popular drama in the 1990s, though it was by no means the only one. Unlike either Wales or Northern Ireland, BBC Scotland's drama department entered the 1990s in a position of some strength. The BBC remains, in a sense, a major instrument of what some would see as enduring colonial power.
Some reflections on the relationship between television and theatre
This chapter traces some of the relationships between the theatre of the late 1950s and 1960s and television drama of the 1960s and 1970s. Bertolt Brecht casts a long shadow across the theatre of the late 1950s and 1960s, although his work was appropriated in particular and idiosyncratic ways. Like sitcom, Theatre Workshop's productions reworked the familiar devices and routines of the music hall, such as the double-act, within the framework of a more traditional extended narrative. Theatre Workshop's productions were resolutely anti-naturalistic, in ways that loosely paralleled the 'non-naturalism' called for by Troy Kennedy Martin and others working in television at the time. The idea of a canon of television drama is contestable, and is best thought of as a set of overlapping definitions that describe different kinds of texts and practices from different viewpoints.