Literature and Theatre

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Roger Luckhurst

This article investigates the role of the corridor in Gothic fiction and horror film from the late eighteenth century to the present day. It seeks to establish this transitional space as a crucial locus, by tracing the rise of the corridor as a distinct mode of architectural distribution in domestic and public buildings since the eighteenth century. The article tracks pivotal appearances of the corridor in fiction and film, and in the final phase argues that it has become associated with a specific emotional tenor, less to do with amplified fear and horror and more with emotions of Angst or dread.

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The ‘Contagion’ of ‘Ridiculous Superstition’

Representations of Lower-Class Voices in Ann Radcliffe’s Novels

Reema Barlaskar

This paper investigates lower-class voices within the context of anti-Gothic criticism, using Ann Radcliffe’s novels and early Gothic critic Joseph Addison’s essays to highlight the ways in which Radcliffe reassigns value to the Gothic aesthetic. It further emphasizes Radcliffe’s reconfiguration of domestic roles as she positions patriarchal figures as anti-Gothic critics, the heroine as reader of gothic narratives, and lowerclass voices and tales as gothic texts. The Mysteries of Udolpho and Romance of the Forest subvert critical discourse and its motif of servants’ contagious irrationality. In Radcliffe’s novels, ‘vulgar’ narratives as superstitious discourse do not spread fear to susceptible heroines, embodiments of bourgeois virtue, but demonstrate the ways in which fear is a construct of patriarchal discourse. Servants and country people, in turn, construct a pedagogy for reading gothic texts that permit heroines to deconstruct metaphors of ghostly haunting embedded in their tales and resist patriarchal hegemony and interpretative authority over gothic texts.

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Chaos, Order, and Liminality

The Urban Gothic of Fin-de-Siècle London and Gotham City

Erica McCrystal

Gothic literature set in fin-de-siècle London has often been argued to highlight duality. However, the urban Gothic truly flourishes through its liminality, which allows chaos and order to coexist. Texts such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray offer versions of a Gothic London that have the appearance of structure but are difficult to navigate. Likewise, the Batman franchise has embraced Gotham City as a setting that provides tensions between order and chaos. In Gotham, as in fin-de-siècle London, liminality puts pressures on apparent boundaries. While the urban Gothic initially developed through nineteenth century British texts, modern-day comics and films within the Batman franchise have allowed us to see how a multiverse normalises liminality and embraces multiple works to speak collectively about Gothic tensions. This article analyses the liminal nature of the urban Gothic in both cities side by side to argue that the urban Gothic’s liminal nature allows instability to reign.

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Blooming Marvel

The Garlic Flower in Bram Stoker’s Hermeneutic Garden

Jemma Stewart

This article explores the use of floral symbolism within Gothic fiction of the fin de siècle. Taking as a basis the language of flower anthologies popularised throughout the nineteenth century, it investigates how this notoriously unstable floral language filtered through into the popular Gothic fiction at the end of the century. Whilst authors of Gothic may have adhered to existing codes and associations pertaining to particular flowers, they also destabilised traditional meaning, and introduced a new floral lexicon into the popular imagination. The article primarily considers Bram Stoker’s Dracula in an attempt to locate floral significance through consideration of the production and widely discussed political agenda of the text. Through a close reading of Dracula’s garlic flower, the article asks whether there might be a Gothic language of flowers situated within the narrative that bears comparison with other Gothic fictions of the period and beyond.

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Joel T. Terranova

Published in 1795, John Palmer, Jun.’s The Haunted Cavern: A Caledonian Tale is a historical Gothic romance that expresses certain unease with the growth of British imperialism at the end of the eighteenth century. In this text, Palmer explores the impact of empire on the colonialized other as well as demonstrating the hypocrisy and abuse of certain imperial practices. With the plot set during the end of the War of the Roses, The Haunted Cavern juxtaposes medieval England as the imperial power with France and Scotland illustrated as the colonialized victims. This article examines the tension towards empire found in The Haunted Cavern which helps clarify the commercialized Gothic romance’s function as a subversive medium towards colonialism.

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Textual face

Cognition as recognition

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James Simpson

James Simpson’s central hermeneutic perception for knowledge in the Humanities is that cognition is re-cognition. Before we can know, we must already have known. He examines this paradox with reference to literary examples of facial recognition from, in particular, Chaucer and his reception in the early modern period. Linking literary face to textual face – the whole text as a kind of face – he applies the lessons learnt from facial recognition to textual recognition; and answers some possible objections to the paradox of knowing being dependent on having already known.

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Helen Cooper

It is usually assumed that the maidens in Chaucer’s Sir Thopas who ‘mourn’ for him ‘when hem were bet to slepe’ are a parodic misunderstanding of the habit of romance knights of mourning for their ladies. This chapter argues that the maiden in love who passes sleepless nights lamenting is characteristic of a significant proportion of the metrical romances that Chaucer is imitating; it is the number of the maidens, the moralistic attitude to their sleep and the suppression of their agency that constitute the joke.

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‘In remembrance of his persone’

Transhistorical empathy and the Chaucerian face

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Louise D’Arcens

From the earliest manuscript images through to cinematic depictions, Chaucer’s ‘persone’, that is his face and body, has been a key focus in the pursuit of transhistorical intimacy with the author. Chaucer’s physical self has been portrayed repeatedly across subsequent centuries in an array of media. Drawing upon the hermeneutic concept of Einfühlung (‘feeling into’) to examine the long ‘empathetic afterlife’ enjoyed by Chaucer’s ‘persone’, D’Arcens explores what Chaucer’s face and body have come to mean to post-medieval audiences; she traces how these differences intersect with the constantly changing nature of Chaucer’s legacy, especially as he and his work have been deemed to reflect national literary and comic traditions.

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Thomas A. Prendergast

Thomas A. Prendergast re-examines the fifteenth-century ‘Beryn’ manuscript, one of numerous continuations of and additions to the Canterbury Tales. Prendergast’s foremost concern is to identify the logic guiding the Beryn-scribe’s addition of this text to the Tales. He argues that the scribe was compelled by an irresistible desire to complete the text of the Canterbury Tales, thus attributing agency to the text itself.

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Paul Strohm

Paul Strohm, both a biographer of Chaucer and a Chaucerian literary critic, meditates on what Chaucer might come to mean for those engaged with his life and poetic works. In a personal reflection on writing about this medieval clerk and poet, Strohm explores the identification or transference that can occur during an intense study of an author, generating new insights into how our emotional investments are implicated in our ‘relationship’ with an author.