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This Element provides new ways of reading the soundscape of the Gothic text. Drawing inspiration from the field of 'sonic Gothic' studies, which has been spearheaded by the writings of Isabella van Elferen, as well as from Mladen Dolar's articulation of the psychoanalytic 'object' voice, this study introduces the critical category of 'vococentric Gothic' into Gothic scholarship. In so doing, it reads important moments in Gothic fiction when the voice takes precedence as an uncanny, monstrous or seductive object. Historically informed, the range of readings proffered demonstrate the persistence of these vocal motifs across time (from the Gothic romance to contemporary Gothic) and across intermedia forms (from literature to film to podcasts). Gothic Voices, then, provides the first dedicated account of voices of terror and horror as they develop in the Gothic mode from the Romantic period until today.
The war in Syria has been communicated to global audiences through images of dead and injured children, decapitated and tortured bodies, and ruined cities. The article shows how news media coverage of the war's impact on the city of Aleppo invoked a Gothic tradition. Drawing on Kristeva and Freud's concepts of the abject and the uncanny, the article argues that the Gothic tradition can further International Relations research on the constitution of Selves and Others. The Gothic Other is constituted through the (Gothic) Self's repulsion, fascination, and desire, and the Gothic tradition revolves around an understanding of the invisible as an in-between space of fear and anticipation. The ability to recognise Gothic themes in an image depends on one's familiarity with the Gothic tradition, hence images are theorised as having a Gothic potentiality. The article focuses on how the Anglo-Saxon Gothic tradition enabled Western readers to identify Gothic themes in news coverage of the war in Aleppo. The article adopts a multimethod strategy including a content analysis of 457 images published by Western news media; a discourse analysis of news stories; an analysis of three Gothic, uncanny iconic motifs; and an author-created comic drawing on Gothic elements from the published photographs.
This chapter underscores what I will call “Mexican Miracle Modernism”; that is, the emergence of literary forms and styles tied to the rapid population growth, economic modernization, and urban development that characterized the period. The key figure to be studied is Salvador Novo, whose work is often recovered in terms of his alternative sexuality and his role as chronicler. Building on those lines of inquiry, I will claim that he is in fact the precursor of a form of urban modernism that will become central in both fictional and nonfictional narratives from the 1960s onward. The chapter will also discuss the rise of the detective novel (Rodolfo Usigli, María Elvira Bermúdez, Antonio Helú, and Luis Spota will be key) and the importance of the Mexican gothic (Rafael Bernal and Francisco Tario).
This essay interprets Erwin Panofsky’s Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism of 1951 by situating the book within the Marburgian tradition of neo-Kantian philosophy. To do so, Panofsky’s relation to Marburgian neo-Kantianism is first contextualized and explicated, specifically by way of his well-known relationship to Ernst Cassirer and his own programmatic statements about art historical method. With this foundation in place, Panofsky’s specific claims in Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism are positioned as an attempted art-historical translation of the Marburgian commitment to ground knowledge on underlying structures of knowledge. Panofsky’s effort in this regard is shown to relate to nomological traditions of scholarship, wherein covering laws are an express and essential aim of research. Interpreting Panofsky’s argument in this way helps clarify the book’s uneven reception in the humanities, wherein an ideographic approach focusing on historical specificity for its own sake is a more accepted norm.
This chapter investigates British sack atrocities to civilians during the Napoleonic era. It analyses how British soldiers represented this violence in their memoirs, especially through the lens of sensationalist gothic horror; and the challenges of estimating the scale of atrocities. It adopts a multi-contextual and multi-causal framework for understanding these atrocities, from situational rage and the brutalising experiences of war to the cultural and political contexts in which sack violence could operate. Whilst most British soldiers participated in the plundering of stormed towns, the murder and rape of civilians during sacks was perpetrated by only a minority. Across soldiers’ writings, we find horror, shame, and moral outrage at such acts; empathy towards the suffering civilian; and a moral duty to bear witness. And despite lamenting the inevitability of such atrocities, this did not prevent individuals, especially officers, from intervening to protect civilians, especially women, acts framed by chivalric and humanitarian ideals.
This volume is the first to consider the golden century of Gothic ivory sculpture (1230-1330) in its material, theological, and artistic contexts. Providing a range of new sources and interpretations, Sarah Guérin charts the progressive development and deepening of material resonances expressed in these small-scale carvings. Guérin traces the journey of ivory tusks, from the intercontinental trade routes that delivered ivory tusks to northern Europe, to the workbenches of specialist artisans in medieval Paris, and, ultimately, the altars and private chapels in which these objects were venerated. She also studies the rich social lives and uses of a diverse range of art works fashioned from ivory, including standalone statuettes, diptychs, tabernacles, and altarpieces. Offering new insights into the resonances that ivory sculpture held for their makers and viewers, Guérin's study contributes to our understanding of the history of materials, craft, and later medieval devotional practices.
Britain in the “long eighteenth century” was the stage for some of the most momentous phases in the emergence of modern capitalism, from the founding of key financial institutions to stock market crashes, rapid urbanization, the beginnings of industrialization, and the expansion of empire. This chapter traces the often-formative role of imaginative writing in conceptualizing monetary and socioeconomic transformation. Prior to the division of disciplines, figures such as Daniel Defoe and Bernard Mandeville moved between modes now differentiated as “literary” and “economic” while, at the end of the period, even exponents of emergent political economy such as Thomas Malthus and Jane Marcet felt called to answer the representations of a poet, and a verse satire helped to shift government economic policy. The chapter examines by turn the place of literature in framing and contesting the new centrality of credit, the defining metaphors that marked the route to a “de-moralized” economic science, and how the focus on landed property and wealth inequality in the work of realist and Gothic novelists relates to heterodox traditions, outside neoclassical economics.
This chapter examines the way two related genres, science fiction (SF) and the weird, deploy horror to critique the sources and expressions of “American horror” – namely, the dark side of American exceptionalism and the social and environmental consequences of its imperialist projects. The two genres share similar generic genealogies, but they diverge teleologically. SF is built on the assumptions of scientific rationalism and therefore follows an identifiable internal logic, relying on our implicit or explicit belief in the plausibility of the story. The weird, by contrast, is resolutely committed to the inexplicable. Both, however, use horror to disrupt our reliance on realist modes of representation that flatter our epistemological certainties. As such, both SF and the weird have been platforms for colonialist and nationalist imaginations, but both have also been potent vehicles for revealing, resisting, and repairing the brutalities of such imaginations.
This chapter argues that American horror is defined both by its “paraliterary” status and by its representations of the bloodied body in pain. Unlike the more culturally prestigious category of the Gothic, which typically dwells on the crisis of the rational mind, horror has tended to appear in culturally maligned or ephemeral forms and focus on corporeal pain, violence, and distress. Horror's focus on the body, it is further suggested, stems from the modern American state's withholding of freedoms according to embodied characteristics: race, gender, sexuality, ability, and so on. The historical appearance of horror narratives often correlates to crisis and tensions surrounding the expansion of the civil and political rights that centrist liberalism promised, so that when previously excluded or marginalized groups begin to demand inclusion and recognition of their past disempowerment, horror becomes a medium especially electric with these concerns.
The “occult world,” or occulture, is a term that has developed a very wide meaning in modern academic discourse. The full panoply of occult thinking is enormous. While always mindful of the broader definition of the subject, this essay is largely limited to what the author believes would be an acceptable vernacular definition of the occult as essentially referring to black magic, and most especially to the satanic. This has been a subject with enormous resonance for American history and culture. The argument in this chapter is that Satan has played, and continues to play, a central – and on occasion a decisive – role in American cultural and political life. He is a figure deeply in the American grain, a vivid and personal presence in the lives of many millions of Americans, given powerful and recurring embodiment in American popular culture, in particular. But he is also a presence centrally informing some of the classic works of American literature.
This chapter examines the queer Gothicism of American horror to consider the ways in which marginalized genders and sexualities have been either condemned or covertly endorsed through horror’s textual and visual mediums. In mainstream cis-heteronormative society, queer genders and sexualities have been an abjectified, “horrific” presence, and these mainstream investments represented via horror, as a mode of expression devoted to irruptions of the body, means that the presence of queerness is often registered as an a priori spoliation of bodily norms. Like the term “queer” itself, audiences have often reappropriated the Gothic figures that appear in horror, and some queer creators have intentionally deployed such Gothicisms for the sake of representing queerness. This chapter explores the conflicting purposes of horror’s depiction of queerness by reviewing several Gothic tropes as they appear in American horror texts, focusing specifically on monstrosity, vampirism, the asylum, medical body horror, and haunting.
Opening up the warm body of American Horror – through literature, film, TV, music, video games, and a host of other mediums – this book gathers the leading scholars in the field to dissect the gruesome histories and shocking forms of American life. Through a series of accessible and informed essays, moving from the seventeenth century to the present day, The Cambridge Companion to American Horror explores one of the liveliest and most progressive areas of contemporary culture. From slavery to censorship, from occult forces to monstrous beings, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in America's most terrifying cultural expressions.
The first chapter claims that the imperial fiction of Joseph Conrad and William Faulkner rejects accounting as a totalizing logic, and by extension, questions the English novel’s complicity in propagating that false logic. Accounting, which had remained unobtrusively immanent to realist novels of empire, surfaces to the diegetic level in a classic instance of a thematization of the device and becomes available for critical contemplation. Drawing from Max Weber, Mary Poovey, and Georg Lukács, I attend in particular to the dandy accountant of Heart of Darkness, the accretive narrative structure of Nostromo, and Shreve’s recasting of Sutpen’s life as a debtor’s farce in Absalom, Absalom! If Conrad equates accounting with lying, Faulkner reveals secrets elided in rows of debit and credit one by one as sensational truths; to those ends, both writers invoke Gothic conventions. By dispatching the totalizing technique that had been invented by early modern merchants and finessed by realist novelists to generate faith in a transnational fiduciary community, Conrad and Faulkner impel the discovery of original forms with which to express the modern transnational world order.
Alison Milbank’s chapter on Gothic prose, ranging from Ann Radcliffe in the late eighteenth century to contemporary Gothic, shows how often language in these works verges on the inexpressible, reminding us that our rational understanding of human experience may only be partial. Language that superanimates the natural world, the frequent use of em dashes that gesture towards the unsaid, even the unsayable, grotesque and arabesque styles, and equivocal, combinatory techniques are all mobilised to create a set of effects that test the limits of our capacity for understanding.
Not simply the persistence of Greek and Roman comedy and tragedy, drama of the modern era had its rebirth in the liturgical performances within the church. Once the miracle and morality plays were moved out of the church, literally pro-fane, their secularized forms were soon suspected of degeneration, and the antitheatrical prejudice was promulgated. To control the possibly disruptive effects of the drama, censorship was introduced to spare leaders of Church or state from being maligned on stage. The Church of England may have been protected but Gothic melodrama found its villains and victims among the monks and nuns. Methodists, Quakers, Jews, dissenters, and nonconformists were targets for theatrical ridicule or abuse. Circumventing the proscriptions of the Licensing Act (1737), Shakespeare’s history plays provided a model for representing religious conflict on stage.
At the heart of Romantic supernaturalism was a newly ‘real’ or ‘material’ magic described by philosophers and aesthetic theorists including Friedrich Schlegel, E. T. A. Hoffmann, Théophile Gautier, Charles Nodier, and others. Rejecting the illusory marvels of the eighteenth century and recalling aspects of natural magic associated with Renaissance cosmology, Romantic fantasy reconciled science and enchantment, phenomena and noumena. This chapter explores how such a reconciliation happened, outlining the impact of post-Kantian Idealist thought, the role of pantheism, the social shifts initiated by eighteenth-century revolutionary and imperialist activity, and the emergence of Gothic culture. From these developments, a new magical mode emerged – a fantastic epistemology – with special implications for music. It allowed fairies to converge with insects, demons to merge into colonial Others, and supernatural spirits to enter the domain of the real. These ideas are fleshed out via close readings of Schubert’s Erlkönig, Mendelssohn’s Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable.
This chapter provides a fresh, detailed and historicised account of ‘high’ Modernism and its relationship to the Gothic, c.1910–1936. It explores the various ways in which Modernist theories of the aesthetic – the novel, the short story, Imagist poetry – shaped Gothic Modernist representations. Many Modernists overtly despised dark Romanticism – Wyndham Lewis derided the ‘beastly and ridiculous spirit of Keats’ lines’ and Virginia Woolf was quick to dismiss ‘the skull-headed lady’ of the Gothic Romance. Instead, their work privileges an aesthetics of finitude and inference over any use of overtly supernatural machinery. ‘Modern’ accounts of psychology shape these representations of anxiety and entrapment but so, too, do authorial theories of the aesthetic. By reading the work of a range of important Modernist contributors, including Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, E. M. Forster and May Sinclair, this chapter suggests that the most enduring examples of Modernist Gothic are found in the mode’s representations of haunting, the unconscious and the dead.
Postdigital Gothic describes a mode of narrative and critical enquiry that evokes the unsettling nature of human and nonhuman actors interwoven within technological assemblages. This represents a turn away from the ‘Cybergothic’ fascination with the ghostly, immaterial aspects of digital media. Instead, Postdigital Gothic calls attention to hidden architecture undergirding the virtual. From sound and image compression formats to the secret algorithms that fuel social media, the digital realm is not an empty portal for ghosts, but rather a vault of manuscripts buried beneath familiar interfaces. The unspeakable manifests itself through the noise of computer glitches, compression artefacts and sonic disruptions. Those unwelcome disturbances signify our human entanglement with the nonhuman. This chapter begins and ends by highlighting cinematic examples of Postdigital Gothic narratives, first, in found footage horror, and then, in the computer screen horror movies Unfriended (2014) and Unfriended: Dark Web (2018). In addition to those readings of cinematic texts, a Postdigital Gothic interpretation of popular compression formats for music (MP3) and images (JPEG) suggests the usefulness of the Gothic as tool for understanding the interpretive work of machinic speech.
This chapter examines Gothic traditions in East Asian cinema, with a specific focus on films and popular culture from Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong. The chapter explores key features of the East Asian Gothic mode: generic hybridity, mythology, morality and important historical moments in the Western reception of influential films. The central argument uniting the analysis of these three distinct national cinemas concerns the narrative and thematic meaning of the figure of the ghost. How are local audiences expected and invited to respond to these avatars of the deceased? What do they reflect from contemporary society, and how do they comment on the past? The ghost in many of these films is not only an object of fear (indeed, it is frequently not an object of fear at all), but also, with varying frequency, a lover, or a hero or a subject of profound pity and sadness. The evolving meaning of the ghost in films from Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong suggests some ways that definitions and understandings of the Gothic should be reconfigured for a global media context.
When the Bush administration launched the War on Terror after the attacks of 9/11, Gothic responded through complex critiques of the discourses and the violence this entailed, but also by unapologetically energising the endeavour to maintain US global hegemony. Noting a number of geopolitical, economical and cultural similarities between late nineteenth-century Britain and the US at the turn of the millennium, this chapter observes that a dominant strand of American Gothic in the early twenty-first century is in fact effectively imperial. The chapter then discusses the interplay between what can thus be termed an ‘American Imperial Gothic’ and the post-9/11 period, paying particular attention to the ideological and affective work that Gothic performs. Located at the intersection between postcolonial and decolonial studies, and international relations and security studies, the chapter furthermore explores how a union of various entertainment corporations and government institutions is involved in the production and dissemination of often deeply reactionary Gothic texts. These rehearse racists and sexist tropes central to the neocolonial project, but also reveal how the anxieties always tied to vast imperial and capitalist projects rise to the surface during moments of sudden upheaval and transformation.