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Dreams, spectral memories, and temporal disjunctions in The Witcher
Lorna Piatti-Farnell

While ostensibly presented as fantasy series, The Witcher (Netflix, 2019) displays many elements that intersect heavily with the Gothic framework. Based on The Witcher books written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, as well as its several video game adaptations, the Netflix series capitalises on a number of genre-bending techniques, filled with mutating monsters, dark magic, and horror transformations. The horror hidden within the narrative often enters the scene through the flickering images and fragmented storylines of dreams, signalling the discovery of buried secrets, as seemingly forgotten events from the past re-surface to cast a dark shadow into the present. It is through dreams that the viewers get to glimpse into erratic chronicles and memories, as links between timelines and geography are established through the notion of Gothic haunting. This chapter considers the presence of dreams in The Witcher as Gothic conduits, exploring how through the notion of vision and representation, the narrative timelines of past, present, and future blend, mingle, and merge. Entangled as they are with notions of memory and remembering, dreams mediate and subvert history and make it changeable and unreliable. The dreams of The Witcher provide veiled critiques for real-life cultural conventions, as the use of ‘magic’ functions as a metaphor for addiction and body augmentation. As such, they also operate as agents of the uncanny, challenging the seemingly ‘normal’ nature of the everyday and transforming it into a monstrous reality..

in Gothic dreams and nightmares
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Marx, Engels, and diabolic Enlightenment
Jayson Althofer
and
Brian Musgrove

This chapter considers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’s insights into the Gothic dreaming and nightmares that animate bourgeois society, reading the ‘day-for-night’ inversions that reveal capitalism’s systemic uncanniness. It contends that the sleeplessness of reason and visions of a 24/7 rationalisation of work are conditions that produce and reproduce capital’s hegemony – a recurrent, inescapable nightmare. Marx’s account of the working day’s prolongation into night, via the glamorous technology of light, reveals capital as ‘an animated monster’ – shape-shifting into the vampire, were-wolf and other ‘flesh agents’; grafting ‘the civilized horrors of over-work … onto the barbaric horrors of slavery’, and celebrating its psychic and physical ‘orgies’ under the glare of the artificial lighting necessary for mass night-work. The industrialisation of light was vital to realising a terrible dream: ‘The “House of Terror” for paupers, only dreamed of by the capitalist mind in 1770, was brought into being a few years later in the shape of a gigantic “workhouse” for the industrial worker himself. It was called the factory. And this time the ideal was a pale shadow compared with the reality’ – ‘demonic power’ bursting from ‘a mechanical monster whose body fills whole factories’. The chapter examines the Gothic unconscious manifested by factories and other terror-apparatuses that fulfil capital’s wish for feeding on demand, and the living nightmare of commodity fetishism – ‘this religion of everyday life’ surrounded by ‘magic and necromancy’. It relates Marx and Engels’s revelations to artificially lit phantasmagorias depicted by Peacock, Byron, De Quincey, Carlyle, Heine, Gogol, Carlyle, and Dickens. .

in Gothic dreams and nightmares

Ranging across more than two centuries of literature, visual arts, and twentieth- and twenty-first-century visual media – television and video games – Gothic Dreams and Nightmares is an edited collection of twelve original chapters examining the compelling, much-overlooked subject of Gothic dreams and nightmares. Written by an international group of experts, including leading and lesser-known scholars, this interdisciplinary study promotes the reconsideration of the vastly under-theorised role of the subliminal in the Gothic. Beginning with an exploration of the varied intellectual and cultural matrices of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Gothic, and recognising the Gothic’s frequent oneiric inspiration, thematic focus, and atmospherics, a line of inspirational transmission and aesthetic experimentation with the subliminal – usually signposted by the artists themselves – is traced across two centuries. Gothic Dreams and Nightmares examines the range of literary forms and experimental aesthetics through which these phenomena were conceived – from Horace Walpole’s incorporation of Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s ‘sublime dreams’ in The Castle of Otranto into the early Gothic novel and Romantic poetry, through the paintings of Henry Fuseli and Francisco Goya and nineteenth-century British and European Gothic novels and short stories, into Surrealism and visual media. Remaining attentive to the cross-fertilisation between medical, philosophical, scientific, and psychological discourses about sleep and sleep disorders (parasomnias), and their cultural representations, these contributions consider Gothic dreams and nightmares in various national, cultural, and socio-historical contexts, engaging with questions of metaphysics, morality, rationality, consciousness, and creativity. This volume’s cross-disciplinary interrogations will have theoretical ramifications for Gothic, literary, and cultural studies more broadly.

The Gothic and Enlightenment in Mary Wollstonecraft’s Mary, A Fiction
Liz Wan Yuen-Yuk

Mary Wollstonecraft’s first novel, Mary, A Fiction (1788), has generally been understudied, particularly in terms of the Gothic. In exploring Mary’s terrifying dreams on both literal and metaphorical levels, this chapter argues that the motif of nightmares may be a narrative strategy to both reveal and realise the repressed, in Freudian terms, that was prohibited by society, and yet also to endorse Enlightenment values. The first part oneirocritically examines Mary’s nightmares and their aftermath, and contends that they not only reflect psychological trauma, but may also be a plot driver to account for and even catalyse Mary’s (sub)conscious decisions. The second part adopts a macro-perspective in viewing Mary’s life itself as a fearful dream. Besides embodying the more ‘classic’ characteristics of nightmares such as chronic deaths, the course of her life also involves the constant returns of her suppressed dreads and desires, including her paranoias and forbidden sexualities, which will be briefly psychoanalysed along with her moments of helpless unconsciousness that resemble sleep paralysis. All of these contribute to a vicious cycle of aggravated nightmares. The last section of this chapter will argue that reason is portrayed as a powerful means to recovery, which, albeit not omnipotent, is even more effective than religion. Ultimately, in tandem with advancing the claim that this novel should be considered one of the earliest Gothic pioneers, I will argue that the motif of nightmares serves as a cover to allow Wollstonecraft to express radical ideas, such as matrimonial dissent, while affirming Enlightenment values..

in Gothic dreams and nightmares
Gothic visions in the Society for Psychical Research’s Census of Hallucinations
Alice Vernon

The Society for Psychical Research pioneered new theories and explanations of sleep disorders in the nineteenth century. One of its prominent members, F. W. H. Myers, was the first to describe hypnopompic hallucinations – a phenomenon in which REM-dream images, such as figures and objects, are projected onto waking sight during micro-arousals – and we still use his term today. In 1889, the Society began conducting a large-scale Census of Hallucinations that sought to gauge the frequency with which the general public experienced images and sounds that were not really there. Among quantitative questions were open prompts for descriptions of experiences, and it is these fascinating comments which will be examined in this chapter. The narratives that respondents write of their sleep-related hallucinations are rife with Gothic imagery, from skeletons and demons to bedspreads crawling with imaginary insects. This chapter will delve into the Census of Hallucinations and its connected research undertaken by the Society, looking at parallels between the Census anecdotes and the tropes of Gothic art and fiction. In particular, I will look at the icons of waking death that feature in texts such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe. At a time when Gothic imagery was prevalent in literature, art, and in the cultural significance of memento mori, I will discuss how the preoccupation with the dead and the supernatural influenced the content of hypnopompic hallucinations in the Victorian era. .

in Gothic dreams and nightmares
The sleep, dreams, and nightmares of Enlightenment reason and beyond
Carol Margare Davison

This chapter introduces each of the twelve chapters in this volume by first laying out some foundational intellectual history relevant to the intersections of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century oneirocriticism and the Gothic. The chapter then grounds the collection, advocating for a reconsideration of the vastly under-theorised role of the subliminal in the Gothic that extends beyond the dominant, problematically Freudian reading that claims the external sublime mutated into, or was increasingly displaced by, an internalised sublime over the course of the nineteenth century. After delineating how the Gothic was itself often oneirically inspired, thematically focused on dreams and nightmares, and comprised of oneiric elements and atmospherics, a line of inspirational transmission and aesthetic experimentation with the subliminal is traced – usually signposted by the artists themselves – from one artistic work to the other, across two centuries. Beginning with Horace Walpole’s incorporation of Piranesi’s ‘sublime dreams’ into The Castle of Otranto, this trajectory ranged across early Gothic literature, to Romantic poetry, Fuseli, Goya, late eighteenth-century phantasmagoria, and nineteenth-century Gothic, especially its monsterpieces, into the era of the Surrealists and early twentieth-century silent film and German Expressionist cinema, late twentieth-century horror films, television series, video games, and other media.

in Gothic dreams and nightmares
The transcendent Gothic unconscious in Bloodborne
James Aaron Green

Dreams and nightmares are among the foremost aspects by which FromSoftware’s action role-playing video game Bloodborne (2015) locates its players within a meticulously detailed atmosphere drawn from Gothic romance. Traversing Yharnam and its environs, their actions are framed by the oneirically laden injunction to ‘escape this dreadful Hunter’s Dream … lest the night carry on forever’. Yet Bloodborne is notorious for melding ‘traditional’ Gothic with cosmic horror elements inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft. Expanding from the emergent scholarship on the game, this chapter contends that to simply note the co-existence of these two registers, or to account for them as an instance of generic hybridity per the ‘New Weird’, belies Bloodborne’s innovation with regard to the Gothic and that tradition’s concern for the unconscious. Instead, reading the game intertextually against Lovecraftian fiction and such Victorian Gothic examples as ‘Carmilla’ and Dracula, this chapter claims that the denotations of dreams and nightmares in both contexts are remediated by Bloodborne’s ludic aspects: the role-playing opportunities enabled by its combat system and the investigations enactable within the game world. The game also recreates, as a navigable space, the nightmarish realms that Lovecraft conjures in his prose. Ultimately, Bloodborne draws upon, and thereby spotlights, the proximity of Gothic romance and cosmic horror through their shared deployment of the unconscious. It equally points to how the Gothic unconscious can be enlivened by the opportunities of the video game medium, and in doing so remain a vital aspect of the tradition’s twenty-first-century form..

in Gothic dreams and nightmares
Richard W. Moore Jr

This chapter examines the centrality of dreams and their significant transformations across British Gothic novels from Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story (1765) to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). During this time of the Gothic’s ‘rise’, the Age of Reason diminished the significance of dreams. Although the Enlightenment viewed them as merely disordered thoughts, dreams play prominent, changing roles in Gothic novels. While early dreams are prophetic and providential, they later become ambiguous and complicated. In the majority of the chapter, I employ Burkean notions of the sublime and the monstrous to find an analogous relationship between Britain’s socio-political concerns and the Gothic dream itself. After the French Revolution, prophetic dreams and moments in Matthew G. Lewis’s The Monk: A Romance (1796) are complicated by a cloud of uncertainty and the emergence of monstrosity. While the monstrous seems buried in The Monk, it reemerges in later Gothic novels. In the dream scenes in Charlotte Dacre’s Zofloya; Or, The Moor (1806), as well as in Frankenstein, dream and reality become intertwined, the prophetic nightmare turns real, and the monstrous remains. Drawing upon Catherine Molineux’s thesis in Faces of Perfect Ebony: Encountering Atlantic Slavery in Imperial Britain that representations of slaves displayed in Britain – for example, in aristocrats’ portraits and in ‘black boy’ advertisements – promoted ‘an idealistic vision of imperial mastery’, I argue that the titular character in Dacre’s novel embodies British anxieties about slavery not only in the colonies but also in the metropole..

in Gothic dreams and nightmares
Gothic theories of dreaming in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Notebooks
Kirstin A. Mills

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was haunted by nightmares. This chapter argues that Coleridge’s private writings about nightmares should not only be considered as narrative texts in their own right, and therefore as extensions of his literary oeuvre, but also be best understood through the language, architecture, and impulses of the Gothic. Despite Coleridge’s conscious attempts to distance himself from the Gothic in his literary criticism, his private writing about dreams and his attempts to scientifically theorise nightmares and his own mind are unsettlingly infused with and informed by this same mode. In particular, I argue, Coleridge’s unique concept of ‘Morphean Space’ can be mapped against similar spatial constructions within the earlier Gothic novels. In addition, Coleridge’s redeployment of these Gothic spaces within his attempts to develop a scientific theory of nightmare directly influences the Gothic’s move in the nineteenth century from its earlier outwardly haunted castles and crypts to its later inwardly haunted psychological domains. This chapter thereby suggests that Coleridge’s dream-writing acts as a bridge between earlier and later forms of Gothic space, and also between Gothic literature and Romantic-period science and public and personal forms of writing. As such, in addition to dissolving traditional generic boundaries between Romantic and Gothic and literature and science, this chapter extends the boundaries of the Gothic mode beyond novels and even beyond the literary, illustrating the ways the Gothic was, even in its earliest moments, less a literary genre and more a psychological impulse ideally suited to interrogating the metaphysics of nightmare.

in Gothic dreams and nightmares
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The oneiric horror cinema
Murray Leeder

This chapter examines the relationship between dreams and cinema, especially in terms of the horror genre, drawing from Terry Castle’s theorisations of the complex entanglements of the supernatural and projected media in the modern construction of the imagination as a coherent space. Analogies between films and dreams within film theory date as far back as Hugo Munsterberg in 1916, and linkages with Surrealism provided some of the first attempts to claim horror films as artistically valid, as when Minotaure praised the ‘oneiric power’ of King Kong (1933). While it is true that horror is not the only genre that features dream sequences, it is also often the case that Gothic imagery will creep into films of other genres (e.g. Oklahoma! [1955]). The chapter begins by describing the establishment of this paradigm in pre- and early cinema and then turn its attention to proto-horror films like The Avenging Conscience (1914) and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), in which the line between dream and reality is constantly hazy. An examination of the symbolic and decidedly Freudian nightmare sequences of films like Cat People (1942), Spellbound (1945), and Vertigo (1958) will follow. The chapter then considers late 20th-century horror films that extensively feature dream sequences, both from the genre’s arty wing (e.g. Jacob’s Ladder) and from its more popular side (including the extensive A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise [1984–]), and concludes with a discussion of the visualisation of dream spaces as concrete cinematic environments..

in Gothic dreams and nightmares