Literature and Theatre

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Amy Bride, Claire V. Nally, Jonathan Greenaway, Shannon Scott, Ruth Heholt, and Diana Edelman-Young

Gothic Studies
Sarah Harriet Burney‘s The Romance of Private Life
Stephanie Russo

Sarah Harriet Burney‘s little-known 1839 novel The Romance of Private Life is a novel that, in many ways, seems to belong to the 1790s, rather than to the early years of Victoria‘s reign. Burney constantly draws attention to both her own works deviance from the Gothic plot, and her reliance on this plot to structure the two stories that comprise the volume. While The Hermitage is arguably the world s first murder mystery, The Renunciation represents a process of thinking through the afterlife of the Gothic plot in a rapidly changing world, anticipating the works of the Brontës and Dickens. The Renunciation represents a conscious reworking of what Italy had come to mean in the early Victorian period, reframing Italy as an artistic wonderland where women were given the means and opportunity to pursue artistic and other independent professional existences. I argue that Burney‘s story represents an ambitious, critically overlooked attempt to reframe the literature of the eighteenth century for a new age.

Gothic Studies
The Uncanny Shark
Nichole Neff

Sharks haunt the human imagination more than vampires, werewolves or ghosts. Sensational representations make the shark the villain of each piece as the top predator of even humanity. Yet since its Gothic beginnings in Anglophone representation, the shark has been the victim. The word sharke comes from slavers tongues when the first of its kind was brought ashore to be flayed, eaten, and its inner bowels excavated and examined. In reading and writing the shark, humanity opens up the belly of the beast to express the repressed and to give utterance to that which cannot be uttered– the uncanny. The argument that follows isnt that we should read the shark as a Gothic figure, but that we already do.

Gothic Studies
The Lost Book Review of Norman Macrae‘s Highland Second-Sight (1909)
Paul S. McAlduff and John Edgar Browning

Bram Stoker was no stranger during his lifetime to spiritualistic endeavors or esoteric fancies. The proof of this claim lies unquestionably across his fictions, which are cratered with Gothicisms from the supernatural and mesmerism to dark atmospherics and ambiances, as well as, or especially, second sight, which is to say visions of the future or the present seen from afar. This occultic power comprises the topic of a newly discovered book review by Stoker reproduced within this article and entitled The Second Sight. This book review is significant in a few crucial ways, most especially because it is so far the only book review Stoker is known to have published, adding a new bibliographical chapter to his already diverse writing career. Of equal import, however, is the circumstance of his reviewing a work of esoterica like Norman Macrae‘s Highland Second-Sight, making this discovery in many ways a valorization of the scholarly work of Catherine Wynne and others who have treated of Stoker‘s predilection in his writings for other knowledges.

Gothic Studies
Susannah Nadler

In this article, I propose that the key to the underlying dissidence of M. G. Lewis‘s The Monk lies in the novel s depiction of consent, a fundamental principle in late eighteenth-century British discourse. For British thinkers of all stripes, a government and populace that valued consent made Britain the greatest nation in the world; The Monk disrupts this worldview by portraying consent, whether express or tacit, political or sexual, as incoherent. By depicting consent as illegible and pervasively undermining the distinction between consent and coercion, The Monk effectually threatens a value that rested at the core of late eighteenth-century British identity.

Gothic Studies
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Epistemology and Revolution in Charles Brockden Brown‘s Wieland
David Smith

In Wieland, Charles Brockden Brown attempted to negotiate varying forces confronting contemporary American religious and political life. Through the transformation of the temple into a Gothic zone Brown injects questions of epistemological uncertainty, clashing forces of rational Enlightenment and supernatural faith. Brown outlines the religiously motivated founding of the nation reacting to European oppression as allegorical to the Wieland patriarchs journey from the Old to New World, and his construction of the temple demonstrates the establishment of new institutions in the American landscape. Religious liberty turns into extremism, producing Gothic violence that transforms the temple into a site of horror and destruction. His children attempt to re-transform the temple along rational Enlightenment lines much the same as Brown perceived the need for America to distance itself from its revolutionary and religious extremist origins. Yet the failure of rationalism to expunge the supernatural aura from the temple allows for the tragic events to transpire that comprise the bulk of the novel. Ultimately, Brown‘s Gothic novel evinces the critical nature of the epistemological clash he sees taking place for the direction America will take, and his concerns that Gothic violence will reverberate throughout future generations find their expression in Wieland‘s temple.

Gothic Studies
The Viscous Palimpsest of Charles Maturin‘s Melmoth the Wanderer
Keith M.C. O‘Sullivan

Charles Maturin‘s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) is often considered the last major work in the corpus of Romantic-period Gothic. This paper draws upon that text and Maturin‘s correspondence, especially his sermons, in which the author incarnates a rich matrix of dichotomies, to offer a reading of the subtle metatextual and autobiographical qualities of the novel. Maturin‘s conflicted identity as clergyman and literary parvenu afford understanding of the nature of, and challenges posed by, this complex work. Like Maturin‘s preaching, Melmoth bears witness to and sympathy with its time. Yet it also bears the imprints or multiple scripts of historical and psychological forces contributing to its formation. Ostensibly a Gothic romance engaged with the dialectic of high Romanticism, it is shown to be a self-reflexive text, with ambivalence towards its own literary form. The plethora of tales within Maturin‘s novel represent an attempt to convey and self-validate a fabric of a created national history, but Melmoth is shown to both use and indict the ideological structures that it has employed to create its own texture. It is suggested that detail of torture and anatomisation of belief represent an unconscious self-dramatisation.

Gothic Studies
The Marvel Films‘ Loki as Gothic Antagonist
Alice Nuttall

This paper explores the role and function of the Marvel film‘s Loki as a Gothic antagonist. Loki‘s characterisation incorporates several Gothic themes. As a shapeshifter, he corresponds with the idea of the unstable and fragmented body, also found in Gothic texts dealing with supernatural transformations. By breaking down the barriers between the realms of Asgard, Earth and Jotunheim, Loki engages with tropes surrounding Gothic space, where borders and boundaries are permeable. Finally, Loki is Othered by his association with the feminine and queer Gothic, something that ultimately leads to another common Gothic theme, that of madness.

Gothic Studies
Servant Negotiations of Gender and Class in Ann Radcliffe‘s The Romance of the Forest
Kathleen Hudson

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.

Gothic Studies
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James Baldwin and the Broken Silences of Black Queer Men
McKinley E Melton

James Baldwin writes within and against the testimonial tradition emerging from the Black Church, challenging the institution’s refusal to acknowledge the voices and experiences of black queer men. Baldwin’s autobiographical novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, creates a space for Baldwin’s testimony to be expressed, and also lays the foundation for a tradition of black queer artists to follow. In the contemporary moment, poet Danez Smith inhabits Baldwin’s legacy, offering continuing critiques of the rigidity of conservative Christian ideologies, while publishing and performing poetry that gives voice to their own experiences, and those of the black queer community at large. These testimonies ultimately function as a means of rhetorical resistance, which not only articulates black queer lives and identities, but affirms them.  

James Baldwin Review