This article argues that American medicine‘s preoccupation with atmospheric etiology shaped the American Gothic as it was instantiated by Charles Brockden Brown and developed by Edgar Allan Poe. Antebellum medical discourse, I suggest, worked in service of a paranoiac hypervigilance or what I call the \miasmatic imagination\. Read in conversation with Gothic fiction, miasma theory offers a way of conceptualizing "atmosphere" as both etiological and rhetorical: a medium for the transmission of disease and a literary technique for the transmission of meaning.
Gothic Fears, Cultural Anxieties and the Discovery of X-rays in the 1890s
In 1895, the world of modern physics was effectively ushered in with the discovery of X-rays by the German physicist, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen. X-rays rapidly changed the ways in which the human body was perceived, and their discovery was documented and fiercely debated in scientific articles, newspaper reports, literary writings, cartoons and films. This article examines a range of these responses, both scientific and popular, and considers the particular significance of their repeated recourse to the Gothic and the uncanny as a means of expressing both excitement and disquiet at what the new X-ray phenomenon might mean.
The essay interrogates a range of critically neglected nineteenth-century anthologies, periodicals and yellowbacks to reveal the ways in which ephemeral Gothic narratives contributed revealingly and troublingly to the public understanding of medicine across the nineteenth century and not just during the fin de siècle. By addressing how narratives of everyday medical encounters and interventions were immersed in contemporary anxieties about the nature of medicine and the role of the practitioner, the authors draw attention to how the figure of the practitioner is increasingly problematized until he himself becomes a locus of pathological disturbance, creating a set of images associated with medicine, practitioners and the everyday that proved culturally enduring across nineteenth-century culture.
The Ceremony of Organ Harvest in Gothic Science Fiction
In organ transfer, tissue moves through a web of language. Metaphors reclassify the tissue to enable its redeployment, framing the process for practitioners and public. The process of marking off tissue as transferrable in legal and cultural terms parallels many of the processes that typically accompany commodification in late capitalism. This language of economic transformation echoes the language of Gothic ceremony, of purification and demarcation. As in literary Gothic s representations of ceremony, this economic work is anxious and the boundaries it creates unstable. This article identifies dominant metaphors shaping that ceremony of tissue reclassification, and examines how three twenty-first century novels deploy these metaphors to represent the harvest (procurement) process (the metaphor of harvest; is itself highly problematic, as I will discuss). Kazuo Ishiguros Never Let Me Go (2005), Neal Shusterman Unwind (2007), and Ninni Holmqvists Swedish novel Enhet (The Unit) (2006, translated into English in 2010) each depict vulnerable protagonists within societies where extreme tissue procurement protocols have state sanction. The texts invite us to reflect on the kinds of symbolic substitutions that help legitimate tissue transfer and the way that procurement protocols may become influenced by social imperatives. In each text, the Gothic trope of dismemberment becomes charged with new urgency.
In the early gothic literature of the eighteenth century danger lurked in the darkness beneath the pointed arches of gothic buildings. During the nineteenth century, there was a progressive, although never complete, dislocation of gothic literary readings from gothic architecture. This article explores a phase in that development through discussion of a series of dark illustrations produced by Hablot Knight Browne to illustrate novels by Charles Dickens. These show the way in which the rounded arches of neo-classical architecture were depicted in the mid-nineteenth century as locales of oppression and obscurity. Such depictions acted, in an age of political and moral reform, to critique the values of the system of power and authority that such architecture represented.
Gender, Money and Property in the Ghost Stories of Charlotte Riddell
This article explores Riddells representational strategies around gender: in particular her male narrators and her female characters made monstrous by money. It argues that Riddell, conscious of social prohibitions on financial knowledge in women, employs male protagonists to subversive effect, installing in her stories a feminine wisdom about the judicious use of wealth. Her narratives identify the Gothic potential of money to dehumanise, foregrounding the culpability of economic arrangements in many of the horrors of her society. While they contain pronounced elements of social critique, they ultimately however defend late-Victorian capitalism by proff ering exemplars of the ethical financial practice by which moneys action is to be kept benign.
Catholicism as System in Charles Maturin‘s Melmoth the Wanderer
Dermot A. Ryan
This essay casts a new light on the anti-Catholicism of Charles Robert Maturin‘s gothic novel Melmoth the Wanderer by reading it as part of a larger assault on systems in the wake of the French Revolution. Maturin‘s attack on the stupendous system of Catholicism contributes to a broader conservative polemic against all forms of international governance. Melmoth the Wanderer‘s portrait of the Church offers us an early instance of modern conservatisms archnemesis: an international system that conspires to rule the world.
This essay announces the discovery of ten performances of Horace Walpole‘s five-act tragedy, The Mysterious Mother (1768) in May 1821 at The Surrey Theatre, St Georges Fields, London, then under the management of Thomas John Dibdin (1771–1841). It was produced as Narbonne Castle: Or, The Mysterious Mother and billed as founded on a Tragic Play written by the late HORACE WALPOLE, EARL OF ORFORD, and now presented for the FIRST TIME. It has long been assumed there was no public performance until the Glasgow Citizens Theatre production of 2001. The essay demonstrates theatre licensing conditions forced Dibdin to produce Narbonne Castle as a three-act, musicalized, redaction. With audiences totalling in excess of 16,000, its production raises many questions about contemporary attitudes to incest.