Literature and Theatre

Michael Goodrum and Philip Smith

This chapter examines the representation of women in horror comics of the 1940s and 1950s. Female characters, we argue, are presented as a source of horror, wielding, as they do, various forms of supernatural or criminal power. The genre then robs women of this power by representing them as objects to be acted on, or by subjecting them to violence.

in Printing terror
Michael Goodrum and Philip Smith

This chapter seeks to bridge the two periods covered by the book, namely the pre-CCA and post-CCA horror eras. It documents the changing economics and demographics of the comic book industry after the Code and charts comics against trends in horror cinema.

in Printing terror
Melanie Keene

Noah’s Ark appeared throughout the nineteenth century in various guises and for diverse purposes: as engineering problem, moral exemplar and divine covenant – even the original name for Hamley’s London toy-shop. Indeed, Noah’s Arks occupied a central role in nineteenth-century childhoods: their re-creation as painted wooden houseboats, lids lifting to reveal carved pairs of miniature animals, was for many children their first encounter with animals, history and biblical lore.

Surviving museum objects and literary recollections attest to the potency of juvenile interactions with Noah’s Ark. For Household Words in 1850, it was an essential part of Christmas. For others, Noah’s Ark must be recast in progressive guise: in 1843, Albert Smith assumed they would soon receive a scientific makeover, in ‘the form of chemical-experiment boxes ... test-tubes and spirit lamps’. Stories, too, were inspired by these artefacts: Tom Hood’s humorous picaresque adventure around the world, From Nowhere to the North-Pole (1875), began with a child playing with a Noah’s Ark.

This chapter explores Noah’s ‘Ark-aeology’ in the nineteenth century, as the tale was introduced, analysed and retold, constructed, marketed and played with, sought, sanctified and invoked, as a key part of the past packaged for children.

in Pasts at play
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Dorothea Tanning’s critical writing
Catriona McAra

This chapter offers a reading of Dorothea Tanning’s little-known non-fiction writing from the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s, which critically engages with intellectual history, artists and artistic movements. The chapter frames Tanning’s critical writing in relation both to her visual work and to revisionary feminist perspectives on surrealism that, like Tanning’s written work, started emerging in the 1970s. Despite the fact that Tanning herself proclaimed that she was suspicious of feminism, the chapter demonstrates that her critical writings – read alongside her visual and fictional output – indeed manifest a feminist politics still pertinent in the twenty-first century.

in Surrealist women’s writing
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Translating Unica Zürn
Patricia Allmer

This chapter is concerned with the issue of untranslatability in the prose – both autobiographical and fictional – of Unica Zürn. The chapter takes issue with how existing English translations of Zürn’s German works evidence lexical and syntactical translational choices that reduce the complexity of these texts to autobiographical reflections of the author’s life. In this way, the more abstract, philosophical themes in Zürn’s writing, as well as her intertextual references to German literary works and their adaptations into different media, are lost. Through careful textual analysis, this chapter exposes these translational shortfalls and demonstrates the works’ own preoccupation with the very issue of untranslatability.

in Surrealist women’s writing
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Childhood encounters with history in British culture, 1750–1914

Pasts at play examines nineteenth-century children as active consumers of a variety of British pasts, from the biblical and classical to the medieval and early modern. This interdisciplinary collection bridges different disciplinary approaches to chart shifting markets for historical education between 1750 and 1914: a critical period in the development of children's culture, as children became target consumers for publishers. Boys and girls across the social classes often experienced different pasts simultaneously for the purpose of amusement and instruction.

Play provides a dynamic lens through which to explore children’s interaction with the past as a didactic vehicle. Encompassing the past as both subject and site for production and consumption of earlier pasts (historical, mythical or imagined), each contributor reconstructs children’s encounters with different media to uncover the cultural work of individual pasts and exposes the key role of playfulness in the British historical imagination.

These ten essays argue that only through exploring the variety of media and different pasts marketed to children can we fully understand the scope of children’s interactions with the past. Sources, from games to guidebooks and puzzles to pageants, represent the range of visual, performative, material and textual cultures analysed here to develop fresh methodologies and new perspectives on children’s culture and the uses of the past.

Bringing together scholars from across a range of disciplines, including Classics, English and History, this volume is for researchers and students interested in the afterlives of the past, the history of education, and child consumerism and interaction.

Child consumers, pedagogy and British history games, c. 1780–1850
Barbara Gribling

This essay chapter investigates the emerging market for British children’s historically- themed toys and games, largely published in London, from the late Georgian era. New ideas about play as a pedagogical tool meant that toys and games performed an increasingly significant role in elite and, later, in middle-class children’s education. A knowledge of British history was seen as essential for children – thought to build character, create informed citizens, and inspire patriotism – and toys and games became the vehicles for this interactive historical learning.

The first part surveys over 50 fifty games from c. 1780 to 1850, highlighting the range of genres that developed. It exposes the role of publishers in fostering a competitive market for these games, drawing out trends from elite adult society and re-imagining it for juvenile audiences. This new market fed a burgeoning interest in learning history through royalty, biography, and key events.

The second part offers the first in-depth analysis of one of the most ground-breaking history games of the period – the Historical Pastime. Produced as a collaboration by Wallis and Harris in 1803, it was reworked in numerous editions until c. 1850.

This essay chapter illuminates the value of toys and games as historical sources that can transform our understanding of children’s everyday encounters with history.

in Pasts at play
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American horror comics as Cold War commentary and critique

Printing Terror places horror comics of the mid-twentieth century in dialogue with the anxieties of their age. It rejects the narrative of horror comics as inherently and necessarily subversive and explores, instead, the ways in which these texts manifest white male fears over America’s changing sociological landscape. It examines two eras: the pre-CCA period of the 1940s and 1950s, and the post-CCA era to 1975. The authors examine each of these periods through the lenses of war, gender, and race, demonstrating that horror comics are centred upon white male victimhood and the monstrosity of the gendered and/or racialised other. It is of interest to scholars of horror, comics studies, and American history. It is suitably accessible to be used in undergraduate classes.

Ellie Reid

The Stepney Children’s Pageant performed at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in May 1909 by six hundred600 local school children, was staged by the social reformers of the non-denominational university settlement, Toynbee Hall. This chapter examines how and why a fashion for historical pageants - – the dramatic representation of chronological scenes of re-imagined local history - – was embraced and adapted for the children of London’s East End. It identifies the principal organisers and demonstrates how they sought to immerse the child actors and their audiences in a locally- grounded version of British history that aimed to provide exemplary models of citizenship from multiple pasts. It explores the children’s experience of participation in a pageant that was promoted as an innovative educational project. This account also considers how the pageant reflected Edwardian perceptions of British history whilst confounding outsiders’ perceptions of the inhabitants of London’s East End.

in Pasts at play
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Leonora Carrington’s dark exilic imagination
Jeannette Baxter

This chapter explores a selection of Leonora Carrington’s English narratives written after her relocation from Paris to New York, and, eventually, to Mexico (‘White Rabbits’, 1941–42, The Stone Door, 1976, and ‘The Happy Corpse Story’, 1971). Not only were these works written in exile, the chapter argues – they are at core about exile experiences. By juxtaposing what she calls Carrington’s ‘dark exilic imagination’ with writings on the topic of exile by Hannah Arendt, Theodor W. Adorno, and Edward Said, this chapter teases out a disquiet haunting Carrington’s narratives regarding what it means to be human in a time of wartime horror, displacement, and cruelty. These exile writings, the chapter suggests, not only illuminate Carrington’s own personal history but provide a poignant reflection on the radical uncertainties of the modern human condition.

in Surrealist women’s writing