International Gothic Association Biennial Conference 2015 “Gothic Migrations"
Conference Abstracts (by Last Name)
Name: Norma Aceves
Institution: The University of Florida US
Abstract: “Ideological Migrations: Dacre, Fortnum, and the Lost ‘Technotext’”
Inscribing terror in the gothic tradition is frequently accomplished through ideological migrations from themes in canonical texts to more sensational and controversial ones. Women writers of the gothic not only transgressed ideological boundaries by the act of writing, but also from deviating from more accepted forms of writing, especially in the British long nineteenth century. Katherine Hayles argues texts can function as a “technotext,” or a work that interrogates the inscription technology that produces it. This paper focusses on the ways in which the poetic works of Charlotte Dacre and her sister, Sophia Fortnum, interrogate the genre of the poem as well as the well-known works of dominant male writers of the time including Mathew Lewis, William Blake and Samuel Coleridge. While these canonical writers challenged popular themes like the beauty of nature in their dark depictions of the church and the institution of marriage in The Monk (1796) and The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1789), Charlotte Dacre and Sophia Fortnum also challenged the same ideas through their form and content. For one, that these women writers navigate their dark works through a predominantly male field has much to say about how they challenge the genre of the gothic. To craft my argument, I focus on Dacre’s Hours of Solitude and Fortnum’s Poems, Legendary, Pathetic and Descriptive (a work for which there is little to no research). It is in the way they adapted popular poetic forms that Dacre and Fortnum challenged traditional ideologies in their work.
Name: Victoria Amador
Institution: American University of Sharjah
Abstract: “Le Fanu’s Cinematic Carmilla”
The lasting influence of Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1872 lesbian vampire classic, Carmilla, can be seen not only in literature but in various international cinematic adaptations. The eponymous heroine’s binary character—the vulnerable victim/victimizer—embodies an acting challenge for any actress, and the novella’s multiple narrators and Gothic tropes provide an ideal storyboard for both faithful and “inspired by” screenplays. This paper will discuss the successes, variations, thematic approaches and spaces between the original novella and its filmic re-envisioning, including Carl Dreyer’s 1932 Vampyr, Roger Vadim’s Et mourir de plaisir/Blood and Roses (1960), The Vampire Lovers (1970) with the glorious Ingrid Pitt, the Spanish The Blood Spattered Bride (1972), Daughters of Darkness (1973) with Delphine Seyrig as a hybrid Carmilla and Elisabeth Bathory, 1989’s Carmilla with Meg Tilly, the exploitative Vampires vs. Zombies (2004), Lesbian Vampire Killers (2009), and 2013’s Styria.
Name: Katarzyna Ancuta
Institution: University of Thailand
Abstract: “The Return of the Dismembered: Representing Organ Trafficking in Asian Cinemas”
Neoliberal economics is often credited with creating a system in which the rich grow richer and the poor poorer. The resulting polarization contributes to a rapid increase in transplant tourism and transnational organ trade. With no other capital at hand, the poor are being commoditized as a sum of re-useable body parts, which they can either be robbed of or encouraged to willingly part with for profit. If mentioned at all, the Asian continent is usually portrayed in Western film narratives as the exploited periphery, continuing the legacy of the colonial/imperialistic representation that saw it as the inexhaustible supplier of human and material resources. This paper eliminates the West from the discussion and investigates how the topic of organ harvesting and organ trade/trafficking is represented in Asian cinemas, paying attention to the specific gothically-inclined narratives that have developed around it. The discussed films belong to a variety of genres (thriller, crime, action, horror, drama, science-fiction), although they all engage with the critique of the capitalistic logic behind the organ trade and related to it criminal environment. The paper discusses the films’ portrayal of Asian power centres and peripheries with economically underdeveloped source countries, profit-guided intermediary countries, and the end-countries that benefit from the process. Finally, it pays detailed attention to a number of films in which organ trade and trafficking are taken out of their usual context and reappear as a peculiar metaphor for empowerment.
Name: Dorota Babilas
Institution: University of Warsaw
Abstract: “From Le Fantôme to The Phantom: the Culture Shift of Gaston Leroux’s Opera Ghost”
How has this classic story - written in 1910 in French by a Frenchman, set in Paris, and featuring the cast of French characters - become so anglicised? Among the several dozen film, stage and book adaptations of The Phantom of the Opera the ones coming from the Francophone world can be counted on the fingers of one hand: a single theatre play (2010), a ballet (1980), and a comic book (2011, 2013). Conversely, in the English-speaking cultures, the Phantom has become a household Name through a series of massively successful productions, such as the Universal blockbuster starring Lon Chaney (1925) and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-breaking musical (1986). It has inspired ever new reworkings and has become a global fan phenomenon. Using the theories of the Gothic (J. Hogle, H. Hawkins, R. Mighall, M.E. Snodgrass), the proposed paper attempts to examine the naturalisation of the Phantom’s story to the Anglophone world, culminating in the recent sequels featuring the literal emigration of the title character to America.
Name: Sarah Baker
Institution: Auckland University of Technology New Zealand
Abstract: “True Detective: The migration of the King in Yellow to the Gothic television series”
True Detective the 2014 HBO series is a programme full of gothic tropes. The series opens with two detectives Rust Cohle and Martin Hirt investigating the ritualised murder of a young woman, Dora Lange in 1995 Louisiana and also their older selves being interviewed by police investigating what appears to be a similar killing in 2012. There are twin narratives; the mystery murder case and the second narrative, the fall out of the case on the two detectives. These are the main plots throughout the series. There is a sense of horror and the macabre in the series created through the murders and events that unfold and the Gothic template is also enhanced by the location of the programme in the American South where the landscape and people become a central character also. Though this series initially looked like a police procedural, the placement in the series of the madness-inducing play The King in Yellow marked a change in direction for the programme. In the second episode Rust Cohle finds the journal of a young former prostitute who was ritualistically murdered and the diary of one victim quotes large chunks of The King in Yellow. This paper will consider the migration of the King in Yellow’s impact on the narrative of True Detective as the two detectives Cohle and Hart edge closer to the abyss of ‘cosmic fear’.
Name: Lindsey Bannister
Institution: Simon Fraser University Canada
Abstract: “Unsettling Canadian True Crime: The Black Donnellys’s Settled Unsettlement”
“both the Vigilantes who murdered them and Thomas Kelley who murdered them again in his book The Black Donnellys, a Name they had not been called in their lifetimes, had totally misportrayed Mr. and Mrs. James Donnelly.” –James Reaney, The Donnellys
On the evening of February 4 1880, a vigilante group descended upon the homestead of the notorious Donnelly family. The murders of James and Johannah Donnelly, their sons John and Thomas, and their niece Bridget have inspired a macabre tourist industry in the small town of Lucan, Ontario, as well as numerous textual narratives, including Thomas P. Kelley’s bestselling true crime novel The Black Donnellys (1954).
While The Black Donnellys is widely discredited as sensationalistic, Kelley’s national bestseller ensured the Donnellys’ presence in the Canadian cultural imaginary. The book also prompted a broader canon of Donnelly writings, including Orlo Miller’s The Donnellys Must Die (1962), playwright James Reaney’s trilogy The Donnellys (1973-1975) and Peter Edwards’ Night Justice: The True Story of the Black Donnellys (2004). This paper situates The Black Donnellys within the intersecting traditions of the American true crime genre and the Canadian gothic. While The Black Donnellys has received very little critical attention, this paper will focus on what Reaney perceives as Johannah’s second murder, that is, Kelley’s misportrayal of the Donnelly matriarch and the circumstances surrounding her death.
By examining Kelley’s depiction of Johannah as a transgressive figure who defies stable gender norms, I argue that The Black Donnellys produces, what Cynthia Sugars terms, a “settled unsettlement” that simultaneously legitimizes and complicates Canada’s colonial past. Even though The Black Donnellys falls within the ephemeral true crime genre, Kelley ultimately inscribes Johannah’s unsettling presence into a larger narrative of Canadian settlement.
Name: Maria Ignacia Barraza
Institution: World Literature Dept. Simon Fraser University
Abstract: “Ernesto Sabato’s On Heroes and Tombs: The Father Figure’s Acts of Transgression and the (Im)possibility of the Cleansing of Past Sins”
Spanish director Luis Buñuel believed that “Tropical” and “Gothic” were antithetical concepts that could not be merged successfully in a novel. The Gothic, in his opinion, was an exclusively northern European phenomenon that could only occur in very specific loci, such as the confines of cold, damp castles. His friend, Colombian writer Álvaro Mutis, wrote the novel The Mansion of Araucaíma –significantly subtitled “A Hot-Land Gothic Tale” (“Relato gótico de tierra caliente”)– in order to prove him wrong. Taking Buñuel’s opinion as a springboard for our discussion, this panel will explore how this Western genre has been adapted and transformed in the warm climates of the global ‘South’, and more specifically in a ‘Developing World’ context. Topics may include: Latin American, South-Asian and African Gothic fiction; Gothic fiction and the identity of the colonized subject; adaptation and mutation of Gothic tropes in the literature of the global ‘South’; technology and modernity in Gothic fiction produced in the global ‘South’.
Name: Kathrin Bartha
Institution: Freie Universität Berlin
Abstract: “(Post)colonial Gothic and the Specter of Landscape in Alexis Wright’s Plains of Promise”
The Postcolonial Gothic is often associated with the re-animation of colonial trauma from different perspectives, often taking form as an awakening of ‘traditional’ indigenous beliefs. This genre can therefore be seen as intrinsically concerned with questions of migration via its insistence on a return to a (pre-colonial) past. Further, the genre is associated with the colonial aesthetic tradition, in which the experience of the colonizer was portrayed as Gothic—often this included a spectralization of landscape and Indigenous peoples. However, with their transgressive content of horror, terror and ghosts, Postcolonial Gothic stories manage to problematize concepts such as ‘origin’ and ‘writing back’. It has been suggested by some scholars that the Postcolonial Gothic tradition poses a dilemma for Indigenous writers because they automatically engage in a colonizer’s aesthetic, however, my paper will show that the migrations inherent in the genre are more complex than the structure of ‘appropriation’ and ‘writing back’ suggests. Although the Postcolonial Gothic is migratory, reducing these stories to a mere reaction to colonialism reinscribes the Black/White binary whilst positing European culture as originary.
The Australian Postcolonial Gothic novel Plains of Promise, by indigenous author Alexis Wright, is specifically concerned with the traumas of three generations of Aboriginal women who have been violently torn apart from each other and displaced from their communities and traditional homeland. These traumas are experienced as a displacement onto the nonhuman world. The haunted landscape and animals then serve as a kind of witness to colonial violence. Her novel articulates a mode of the Gothic that resists the figuration of Aboriginal ghosts as a reaction to colonialism in favor of one that shows different worlds (Aboriginal and European; ancient and modern) colliding. In this paper, I will examine the ways in which the nonhuman world of Wright’s novel is invested with the disruptive force of the Gothic, which manages to destabilize the colonizing gaze.
Name: Mackenzie Bartlett
Institution: Mount Saint Vincent University Canada
Abstract: “‘Who’s laughing now?’: Monstrous Mirth from Frankenstein to The Evil Dead”
My paper will examine manifestations of Gothic laughter across a variety of historical periods and textual mediums. Humour and horror have been intimately linked from the very inception of Gothic literature in Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto; however, instances of laughter in Gothic narratives are often divorced from comedy, particularly when they are expressed by monsters. From the “long and fiendish laugh” of Frankenstein’s creature to the “mirthless, hard, soulless” laughter of the vampire sisters in Dracula, expressions of mirth in nineteenth-century Gothic fiction are frequently represented in pathological terms as hysterical, demonic, and atavistic. I will argue that laughter’s inherently incongruous qualities make it a useful phenomenon through which to understand the relationship between the Gothic and a host of cultural, scientific, and socio-political discourses.
After exploring specific moments of laughter in representative examples of Gothic fiction from the long nineteenth century, I will conclude with a brief analysis of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy in order to highlight how the medium of film has transformed literary representations of Gothic laughter and added new layers of meaning to the phenomenon. Through this broad survey of fiction and film, I will suggest that monstrous laughter, like the Gothic itself, constantly echoes the past and traverses the boundaries between mind and body, human and animal, conservatism and subversion, and self and other. Therefore, instances of Gothic laughter can be read as a nexus or prism through which discordant voices can be heard.
Name: Gisele Baxter
Institution: University of British Columbia Canada
Abstract: “Bluebeard in Tasmania”
Jack Zipes calls Charles Perrault's "Bluebeard" one of the "fairy tales" that stick: its preoccupations with locked doors, forbidden chambers, and dark secrets have had enormous cultural impact, and the story that has travelled and morphed into more recognizably Gothic variants, including Bela Bartok's opera Duke Bluebeard's Castle, Angela Carter's short story "The Bloody Chamber", and Catherine Breillat's film Barbe Bleue.
A few years ago, Heidi Lee Douglas, an Australian filmmaker, decided to make a short horror film transposing "Bluebeard" to early 19th century Tasmania: despite warnings from other inmates, a young convict in a brutal women's prison desperately volunteers when mysterious Mr. Black, a reclusive farmer, comes looking for yet another servant. Through a mutual friend, I met Heidi online and became a sort of informal consultant concerning the endurance of the Bluebeard story (largely drawing on my experience teaching the tale and various refunctionings, and on significant critical work by Jack Zipes and Maria Tatar).
I want to argue that Douglas's 2014 director's cut of the short film, Little Lamb (which has screened at several film festivals) makes of "Bluebeard" a contemporary, feminist Gothic tale (despite its period setting). By eliminating the aristocratic elements and leaving horrifyingly vague exactly what Mr. Black has done and why, she has made something visceral and shocking, through her use of location (filming was at and around the prison site in Tasmania), her use of ambient light, and her empowering revision of the story's conclusion.
Name: Dana Benge
Institution: Idaho State University US
Abstract: “Elvis Has Not Left the Building: Jane Eyre and Female Sexuality in a 20th Century American Young Adult Novel”
The Gothic has not only endured but also flourished since its inception in the 18th century. One of the reasons for this is the Gothic’s ability to travel between genres and time periods to address unresolved social problems. This paper makes a contribution to the discussion of Gothic migration by examining the relationship between the foundational 19th century Gothic text Jane Eyre and the little known 20th century similarly titled American novel, Jane Emily.
Jane-Emily builds on Jane Eyre through its shared interest in women turning against other women in Gothic novels because as Gilbert and Gubar write, “the [male] voice in the looking glass sets them against each other” (Gilbert and Gubar 38). In Jane Eyre we see Bertha turn against Jane who threatens her position as the current Mrs. Rochester, and in Jane Emily we see the child Emily force a pledge of marriage signed in his own blood from her young friend Adam before the two are even into their teens. Emily then returns from the dead years later to enforce this pledge when Adam expresses adult interest in another woman. This paper breaks new ground by bringing unprecedented attention to the violent behavior of both Bertha and Emily as metaphors for female sexual experience and aggression.
Gilbert, Sandra M., and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. New Haven: Yale UP, 2000. Print.
Name: Alex Bevan
Institution: University of Lincoln UK
Abstract: “Gothic: Literary Travel and Tourism”
In this paper, I will explore the intersection between Gothic literature and ‘Gothic tourism’, by discussing how Gothic attractions either utilise or are inspired by Gothic literary works. Drawing from my recent research visits to Alton Towers’ ‘Scarefest’, The London Dungeons and ‘The Original Lincoln Ghost Walk’, I shall analyse how these attractions incorporate Gothic ‘storytelling’. The methodological approach of this paper will consist of a dual analysis of both the tourist attraction and the literary influence or content. The texts explored in this paper will include the following fairy-tales: ‘Hansel and Gretel’ (1812) by Brothers Grimm, and ‘The Story of the Three Little Pigs’ (1890) by Joseph Jacobs. The role of the tourist shall be scrutinised, paying close attention to the implications of the body and affect, suggesting that a specific new form of Gothic bodily affect is experienced, moving beyond the solitary process of reading a text. For example, ‘walking’ during the ghost walk adds a new layer to the ghost story and how it is experienced. Furthermore, Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of the ‘Carnivalesque’ will be discussed in relation to ‘Scarefest’ and The London Dungeon, interrogating the Gothic-fun-factor dichotomy inherent in these attractions which explore the horrific alongside the ‘wacky’. The connection between these varying Gothic attractions, I will argue, is the way in which they utilise themes of haunting for example, to probe into the darkest concerns, anxieties and tribulations permeating in contemporary society, offering a space for the ‘darkness’ to be accessed, experienced and politicised.
Name: Maria Beville
Institution: Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, Ireland
Abstract: “New Materialism and All ‘Things’ Gothic – Compelling Objects in Contemporary Literature and Criticism”
The recent trend in philosophy in criticism to bring nature and materiality back into focus has revived critical interest in how literature and other cultural forms deal with ‘things’, and also matter. New Materialist philosophers such as Rosi Braidotti have placed emphasis on the importance of rethinking poststructuralist approaches to material reality, embodiment, and bio-politics through renewed discussions of material culture and experience. This, to some, is seen as an effort to move away from postmodern relativism and solipsism and as pointing to novel ways of dealing with challenging issues such as memory, history, and identity. As a trend, it is found not just in critical discourse, but in recent examples of popular literature, too, where an obsession with ‘things’ seems to reawaken a mode of aesthetics not seen which such clarity, arguably, since the writing of Henry James.
With reference to selected examples of contemporary fiction, including the work of David Mitchell and Anne Enright, this paper will identify an important overlap between the representation of ‘things’ in post-millennial writing and the long held fascination of the Gothic with all 'things' strange and powerful. With particular attention paid to the manner in which the Gothic frequently invokes a materialist approach to memory and history, it will discuss the significance of the disturbing affect of mysterious found objects, objects of grotesque horror, and strange objects of power, which abound in Gothic narratives as a physical embodiment of the revenant past. This discussion of compelling objects in the Gothic will be the basis for the argument that Gothic materialism and the Gothic obsession with ‘things’ can be seen to have migrated trans-temporally and trans-culturally into twenty-first century philosophy and literature.
Name: Tugce Bicakci
Institution: Lancaster University
Abstract: “Zombies are Çapulling or the Turks’ Ordeal with the Zombie Apocalypse”
The zombie apocalypse has become one of the most influential subgenres of the Gothic in the twenty-first century. In American Zombie Gothic (2010), Kyle William Bishop considers the birth of this subgenre as a reaction to social and cultural anxieties of the globalised world caused by international terrorist attacks or epidemic illnesses that made tremendous impact, particularly on Western societies. However, do zombies and the concept of zombie apocalypse function in the same way when migrated to a non-Western culture? This paper aims to answer this question by investigating two major examples of zombie narratives from Turkey. The Island: The Wedding of Zombies (2010) is the first Turkish zombie film which draws on the subgenre’s most popular Western examples, yet manages to construct an authentic Turkish identity through its dialogues. Zombistan (2009), the first Turkish zombie graphic novel, focuses on issues of race, class and gender within Turkish society. Both of these narratives set their stories in Istanbul in modern Turkey and parody Turkish identity through the zombie figure. Moreover, the zombie figure is considered as the barbarian and the vandal whose Turkish equivalent, çapulcu, has been a recurrent adjective to describe people who protest against the governments throughout the political history of Turkey including the recent Gezi Park protests. Therefore, in the light of Glennis Byron’s recent term Globalgothic, I will discuss the transformation of the zombie figure and the subgenre’s conventions by contextualising these works with significant global and national events of the twenty-first century.
The proposed paper will focus on HBO’s Carnivale (2003-5), which stretches from the European trenches of World War One to the atom bomb tests of the 1950s but focuses on that darkest of American decades: the 1930s, when environmental degradation and economic depression saw large swathes of the US population migrate across country in search of a better life.
Deploying both social realism and elements of gothic horror, Carnivale explores not only the eternal fight of good and evil but the ideological uses to which such Manichean ideas may put; specifically within a context of transnational corporations, global communications technologies and economically-driven injunctions to refashion the self in the image of the contemporary market. As such, this paper will argue, the series explores the ways in which global economics may mobilise entire populations, examining its invidious effects on social and psychological integrity and, ultimately, decrying its capacity to bring forth evil in the hearts and works of men.
Thus evoking a world in which fiscal catastrophe had ripped people free of their social, psychological and ethical moorings, the series interrogates the geo-political climate in which it was, itself, produced: specifically the impact of 20 years of neoliberal economics on American communities at home and the ramifications, on those communities, of corporate wars waged overseas.
Name: Melissa Bobe
Institution: Rutgers University
Abstract: “Broken Eggs and Bloody Chambers: The Significance of the Mother in Contemporary Global Bluebeard Revisions”
In its many incarnations, the Bluebeard fairy tale always demonstrates a commitment to warn young women to “be bold, be bold, but not too bold,” as sometimes the difference between a devoted, wealthy husband and a brutal serial wife-killer is a tiny key in a forbidden door. But contemporary revisions of the tale have gained recognition for taking up the issue of domestic violence, and the moral has evolved from condemning curious wives to celebrating courageous women survivors. In our current moment of global literature, what common threads might be found in reading the story of Bluebeard as a narrative celebrating a triumph over domestic abuse? In this paper, I look to two contemporary revisions in particular: Angela Carter’s “The Bloody Chamber” and Nalo Hopkinson’s “The Glass Bottle Trick.” While Carter’s story is couched in the second-wave Western feminist tradition, with a protagonist who experiences a sexual awakening that leads to a deeper understanding of her adult self, Hopkinson raises issues of postcolonial racial tensions and internalized colorism as her protagonist faces the potential violence of not only her husband, but of the furious spirits of his murdered wives. Both versions, however, employ motherhood as central to the ultimate demise of their Bluebeard figures; and so, in examining these global contemporary Gothic fairy tales, do we find an inversion of the trope of the wicked stepmother as the key to the survival of the archetypal damsel in distress?
Name: Laura Bohnert
Institution: Dalhousie University
Abstract: “The Consequence of Stasis: Connecting Movement to Corporeality in Charles Dickens's Great Expectations”
From the outset of Great Expectations, which opens with the image of a young boy sitting atop the tombstones of his deceased parents’ graves—a form of stasis which inherently refers to their body’s decay—the relationship between lack of movement and decomposition is brought to the forefront. From the inciting encounter with a prisoner who is shackled to a leg iron, to Pip’s encounter with Miss Havisham, an eccentric and ghost-like figure whose insistence on creating a static space directly connects to her inability to sustain corporeality, to Pip’s life-threatening illness, the effects of the lack of motion are inherently imbued in the physical and psychological deteriorations of the body. My paper offers an examination of this connection between the characters’ abilities to move and progress, temporally, physically, and psychologically, and their ability to sustain corporeal presence. The central point of my argument focuses on the moment in which the body is forced into stillness to propose that this unnatural stillness of the body enacts its psychological death, forcing, in its stasis, the body’s decomposition—even to the point of spectrality.
Name: Kristin L. Bone
Institution: Trinity College
Abstract: “The Dark Gift – A Virus: The Transformation of the Vampire from Myth to Science”
In 1988 international Bestselling author, Anne Rice, wrote a story describing the origins of the vampires found in her novels through a series of myths which included demons, witches, and magic. This type of origin story became a predominate force with the Gothic genre. However, in recent years, there has been a significant shift in attempts to explain vampirism in stories, turning away from the mystic to a more scientific explanation. Anne Rice herself is no stranger to this shift, introducing readers to her first vampire scientist in her Oct. 2014 release, Prince Lestat.
This evolution from the mythical to the scientific is hardly exclusive to the vampire legend, but in fact has translated to the majority of modern-day monsters including the werewolf and the zombie. This presentation will examine this shift and outline the transition of the modern monster from origins based in mythology to those based on scientific explanation over the past three decades. This is a shift seen through multiple interpretations of the Gothic tale, from novels to film to television. This evolution will be examined, using Rice’s work as a primary example, of how the vampire origins began in mythology and conclude in science. It will also explore the implications of this change in shifting the stories from the realm of the magical to that of the rational.
Name: Claudia Boutin
Institution: Currently independent. Former MA student in Film Studies, University of Montreal (Quebec, Canada)
Abstract: "'Someone Dressed In My Skin': Ian Curtis And The Gothic Cognition"
If words related to haunting and revival are frequently used and contested by Gothic scholars (Warwick 2007), studies on film acting also deal with similar metaphorical challenges when examining a performance. An actor completely dedicated to his part is often described as “being possessed”. This common saying has repercussions on the way viewers conceive acting: it undermines the actor’s authority on his own work, condemning his body and mind to the status of passive conducting agents overruled by estranged, powerful forces. This paper will question such an approach by following Erwin Panofsky’s lead on the peculiarities of cinematic aesthetics in his essay Style and Medium in the Motion Pictures (1947). Panofsky refers to characters in narrative films as “hollow and immaterial shells [..] living and dying with the actor”.
Some characters complicate this equation by being heavily referential: their meaning is fully rooted in a “cultural readability” (Nacache 2005) that depends on knowledgeable decipherers. Ian Curtis appears as an ideal case study within a Gothic context: with him, the lines between the real and the staged are blurred, because of his double status as a historical figure and a fictional character, not to mention how his physical condition affected his performances. More so, the life of Curtis the Man has not been as heavily documented as Curtis the Musician’s. As his primary materials are fragmented and fixed meaning is unattainable, an actor undertaking such a role can only fill the blanks with his own experience. By comparing an appearance of Joy Division on the television show Something Else (BBC2, 1979), and the performance of Sam Riley as Curtis in Anton Corbijn’s Control (2007), I wish to demonstrate how actors incarnate themselves through their roles, and not the contrary. There is, as Robert Mighall (1999) would say it, a “vestigial” quality to it.
Name: Katherine Bowers
Institution: University of British Columbia
Abstract: “Searching for Dostoevsky's Gothic Heroine: from Netochka to Nastas'ia Filippovna”
This paper considers two of Dostoevsky’s heroines—Netochka Nezvanova from his early unfinished novel (1849) and Nastas’ia Filippovna from The Idiot (1868)—in the context of Gothic fiction. While Gothic influence on Dostoevsky’s works has long been noted and analysed (in, for example, works by Grossman, Miller, Frank, and others), no study has yet been done discussing the Gothic’s influence on his overall development as a writer. This paper posits that Netochka Nezvanova, Dostoevsky’s early, abused heroine, serves as a prototype of sorts for Nastas’ia Filippovna, The Idiot’s temperamental and tormented leading lady. While Dostoevsky’s trial, aborted execution, religious awakening, and Siberian imprisonment separate his two heroines, they share a common source: the Radcliffe heroine. Netochka’s unhappy homelife, orphaning, unfortunate relationship with her stepfather, and tortured childhood and adolescence mirror, to some extent, Nastas’ia’s early years, only mentioned as an afterthought, but dwelt upon obsessively in Dostoevsky’s working notebooks. While the heroines are united thematically, this paper looks at specific episodes from their respective novels that feature not only the heroines’ Gothic resonance, but also the way it plays out in their psychology or personality. In tracing both heroines’ development along the trajectory of a Gothic heroine, this paper sheds light on not only his heroines’ motivations, but also on the extent to which Dostoevsky’s early writing foregrounds his later works. Furthermore, in analysing these heroines’ Gothic roots, this paper illuminates some of the nuts and bolts of Dostoevsky’s narrative craft.
Name: Steven Bruhm
Institution: Western University, Canada
Abstract: “Queer Schadenfreude: The Case of the Southern Gothic”
One of the gothic’s primary affective invitations is schadenfreude, a pleasure in the misfortune of others. Nineteenth-century classic gothic conventionally places schadenfreude at a site where it seems quite benign: the demise of the tyrant, the murderer, the oligarch, or the fanatic. But in the southern gothic fiction of Flannery O’Connor, the pleasure of schadenfreude is ethically more treacherous: our pleasure in demise attaches itself to family, to upright social systems, to the ostensibly “good.” My essay reads O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” through an affect I call “queer schadenfreude.” Drawing on John Portman’s When Bad Things Happen to Other People, I argue that O’Connor’s gothic invokes in us a feeling of justice regarding the grandmother’s slaughter – and is thus “queer” in the sense that it punishes her hypocrisy and normativity. At the same time, though, it refuses to afford us the moment of salvational clarity that the grandmother feels at the moment of her death; like the Misfit, we are outside salvation and can feel “no pleasure but meanness.” In this sense schadenfreude is the ineluctable tension that guides our reading experience. The Misfit’s fraught and contradictory positionality keeps him alive to the possibilities of other people only by killing them. His ultimate disavowal of schadenfreude – “it’s no real pleasure in life” – cannot be mine as a reader, but creates in me the mixture of queer pride and queer shame that energizes the southern gothic more generally.
Name: Claudia Bubke
Institution: Freie Universität Berlin /Free University Berlin Germany
Abstract: “Contemporary Draculas: Mapping the Development of Vampire Characteristics in Literature and Film from 1897 until Today”
This paper is looking at how vampire characteristics are reconstructed, comparing two popular novels with each other. Applying intermedial concepts and debates on culture-industrial production, it will be asked how these features were copied or transformed; and what this says about their respective receptive aesthetics.
Therefore, the portrayal of common vampire characteristics will be analysed, such as mirror reflections, the crossing of thresholds and killing methods, as they migrate on an intertextual level from Bram Stoker's Dracula to Charlaine Harris’ Bill and Eric. The paper follows their intermedial routes from novel to cinematic or TV adaptions. Dracula is treated as the textual basis, or (Victorian) root, of these protagonists. Present times, however, are particularly interesting, since the popularity of vampire fiction seemingly reached a new level with the advent of the Twilight Saga and its newly created "cuddly vampires". The comparison especially focusses on the contrast between the violent, but sexy True Blood vampires and the romanticised protective versions, both popular in today's vampire fiction.
Finally, the implications of these different vampire portrayals will be looked at in the context of contemporary thinking and interpreting. How, for example, did the meaning of mirror reflections change? Does it still refer to the question of whether or not the mirrored object has a soul? Is that question even relevant nowadays? Do these traits really reflect on different generations through time or are their transformations merely a means established by culture-industrial forces to sell their products and manipulate consumers into following certain ideologies?
Name: Chloe Alexandra Germaine Buckley
Institution: Lancaster University, UK
Abstract: “From ‘Zombies, they’re us’ to ‘The zombie is me’: the reconfiguration of the zombie narrative in Zom-B by Darren Shan and The Enemy by Charlie Higson”
This paper argues that the relocation of the zombie from adult fiction into children’s fiction transforms the walking dead. “Zombies, they’re us” is an often repeated adage, which positions the zombie as representative of extant social anxieties. Whilst Shan and Higson take their cue from a long-established tradition of zombie fiction, their use of the zombie challenges this function. In Zom-B, the zombie narrator directly addresses an implied child reader, transposing a generalised identification (they’re us) into an individualised pronouncement (it’s you). The Enemy, in contrast, pits survivor children against infected adults, marking zombies as entirely other to the implied reader. In both cases, the texts identify with an individualised reading child, which produces a tension within the zombie narrative. On the one hand, the zombie offers an excessive monstrosity, particularly in relation to the romanticised supernatural creatures popular since the success of Twilight in 2005. On the other hand, it is also deployed in the service of a broadly pedagogical remit. Both Higson and Shan focus on maturation, aiming at nurturing the emergent independence of the reader to make ethical and moral decisions. This investment in the education of the implied reader sits in conflict with the grotesque nature of the zombie. Desires for release and abandonment - be it the cravings of the zombie itself, or the desire to violently annihilate the infected - sit in uneasy tension with a desire for containment and maturity. Through this conflict, I read the zombie as structurally grotesque, an undecidable figure: it is both attractive and repulsive, of course, but it also remains undecidable in terms of whether it upholds a moral lesson or annihilates any pedagogical imperative. The zombie thus problematizes the pedagogical function of children’s literature, but its transformation therein also resists appropriation by the dominant social anxiety reading normally ascribed.
Name: Karen Budra
Institution: Langara College Vancouver Canada
Abstract: “Snow, Smoke, Skin, Blood: Female Transcendence in Northern Noir Cinema”
Female protagonists in Under the Skin, The Descent, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Let the Right One In, Melancholia and Ginger Snaps move from stereotypical gender roles and emotional disengagement to full agency & emotional complexity as they interact with the Northern landscape. In the process, their skin—both literal & figurative—is torn and their bodies lose permanence, echoing the ecstatic martyrdom of female saints. I plan to investigate this phenomenon, which appears to be a geographical, rather than national, trait.
Name: Ailise Bulfin
Institution: Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
Abstract: “’Yellow fiends’: The gothicisation and migration of a racist myth in the late-nineteenth century”
‘I might hide myself in the nethermost parts of the earth, and yet not be beyond the reach of these yellow fiends and their mysterious power,’ claims the persecuted protagonist of Carlton Dawe’s 1900 thriller The Yellow Man. Despite the gothic overtones, the fiends referred to are not any variety of supernatural creature, but the flesh-and-blood agents of a Chinese secret society who have taken their campaign of terror from China to England. Throughout this purportedly realist narrative, Dawe continues to draw heavily on the conventions of late-nineteenth-century gothic writing, and he was only one of many popular writers to do so in depicting the contemporary imperial fear known as the ‘yellow peril’, notable others including M.P. Shiel and Guy Boothby.
A visceral doctrine of race hatred, ‘yellow perilism’ held that the ‘white’ and ‘yellow’ races could not co-exist, that the West must take heed or be ‘overrun’. It took shape when European intrusion into China was entering the accelerated phase which culminated in the Boxer Rebellion (1900-01) and when the labour requirements of Britain’s colonies were forcing the mass migration of Chinese indentured labourers across its empire. This paper explores how the pernicious myth also migrated across the empire to its metropolitan centre via migrant British colonial authors who had firsthand experience of Chinese immigration into their home colonies – writers like Dawe, Boothby and Shiel whose popular tales of yellow terror were published in London. It argues that yellow peril fiction can be recast as a type of gothic fiction because its exorbitant depictions of the cruelty and fiendishness of Chinese people bear as little resemblance to reality as its scenarios of oriental invasion bear to the actual state of East-West power relations.
Name: Ilse Bussing
Institution: University of Costa Rica
Abstract: “Scent and Corruption: The Garden in The Picture of Dorian Gray”
In The Gothic (2004), David Punter and Glennis Byron confirm The Picture of Dorian Gray’s status as a “Gothic masterpiece,” and identify a strong link to this literary tradition, through the topics of the “corruption of the flesh and the distortion of beauty” (173). The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) unquestionably pays homage to Wilde’s active participation and contribution to the aesthetic movement of the British fin de siècle, through notions on Beauty and Art and decadent experimentation. Critics, however, have often ignored a specific site that I believe is central to the work--the garden. As the locus of temptation, the garden obviously remits to the archetypal Eden but also to the Epicurean garden, an allusion that is supported by aesthetic concerns of the times. By addressing the issue of scent (as originating in the garden), and of how it infuses and migrates through space, this paper proves how vital the issues of sensations and the senses were to Victorian aesthetes. This paper insists that by following or tracing scent and its effect, it is then possible to trace or map the effect of decadence, once again central in Wilde’s work and in many Gothic texts. Furthermore, the topic of sensations and the body’s reaction to its surroundings have consistently been addressed by Gothic critics. This paper, then, focuses on a specific site present in Wilde’s work, the garden, a setting that often appears as a locus of haunting in Gothic works; moreover, this site will be approached through the issue of scent, thus confirming Gothic’s preoccupation not only with setting but also with the intriguing way in which it is experienced by characters and readers alike.
Name: Grace Cameron
Institution: Independent Scholar
Abstract: "Vampiric (Re)Location from East to West, Transylvania to Bon Temps, Louisiana and subsequent integration into small town America as seen in Charlaine Harris's ‘Southern Vampire Mysteries’ and HBO'S ‘True Blood’”
This paper examines the locational shift in vampire fiction from East to West, from Transylvania to the United States, and specifically small town America. It will examine how the contemporary vampire has evolved to become a more integrated and domesticated entity. This investigation will focus primarily on Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries Series (2001-2012), and its television adaptation, True Blood.
Locational influence is rarely discussed in critical works on the topic, however, this paper will investigate how the locational setting of such works influences the characterization of the protagonist and the supporting characters, and why the setting of recent and successful series such as True Blood and The Southern Vampire Mysteries are placed in real and imagined rural America.
During the hundred years between Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) and the contemporary vampire, the vampire’s Otherness has transformed from being perceived as inhuman and evil, to becoming integrated into society. The paper will address the notion of the contemporary vampire as a metaphor for humanistic shortcomings and ‘otherness’ within the context of how the vampire has moved from isolation to domestic integration, in an American rural/small town environment. These evolutions are perhaps best exemplified in Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries.
The significance of the frequent use of Louisiana, US and small town locales as centres for vampire activity will be explored in terms of what these locations contribute to the narrative, and in terms of what has prompted this shift in paradigm. It will explore how and why this shift happened by referring to changes in the character of the vampire from its folkloric beginnings to contemporary depiction.
Small town site specifity in twenty-first century vampire fiction is also significant, and begs the question – why here? This paper will investigate how this choice of location influences the reading of the narrative, in terms of the ‘coming out’ of vampires into mainstream society, and further posits questions about who really is the ‘monster’ in this setting, and refers briefly to the paranoia associated with otherness and marginalisation in a contemporary society.
It will examine the integration of the vampire within contemporary small town Louisiana, and how the shared cultural history of the south influences the reading of the narrative, questioning whether vampires represent humanistic shortcomings and the monstrous potential of the human psyche. It will also look at themes of integration and how views of small town inhabitants can reflect the pulse of the nation in terms of prejudice, marginalisation and assimilation.
Name: Stephen Carleton
Institution: University of Queensland
Abstract: “Gothic Melodramatic Migrations from the London Stage to Australia in the 1860s-1880s”
West End stage sensations moved relatively fluidly from London to Australia and New Zealand during the second half of the nineteenth century. Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that Gothic melodramas were performed in New South Wales virtually since the colony’s inception as a penal settlement in 1788. In this paper, I mark the ‘spike’ in Gothic theatrical migration that took place between Britain and Australasia in the 1860s. 1863, in fact, marks something of a watershed year in the generic passage as no less than three plays premiere in Sydney’s Royal Victoria Theatre within the space of a month, all of which advertise the appearance of Mr Pepper’s Ghost Machine as the technological selling point. I then trace the rise and rise of an Australian-specific Gothic melodramatic tradition in the 1870s and 1880s, and discuss how the emergence of convicts and bushrangers onto the Australasian stage marks an antipodean ‘migration’ of European Gothic tropes and archetypes as a regionally-specific subgenre. Marcus Clarke’s convict classic ‘For the Terms of His Natural Life’ emerges as an Australian Gothic urtext, with the famous novel being adapted to the stage time and again during this period; and Ned Kelly appears as a folkloric Gothic hero-villain figure – his life itself a second local Gothic urtext – on Australian stages soon after his 1880.
Name: Madison Chapman
Institution: American University
Abstract: “Mobility & Misreading: The Castle of Otranto & Victimhood’s Facilitation of Gothic Horror”
Why do Gothic scholars consistently read victims as feminine figures? I argue that the victim is a mobile category because there is a dialectic between power and powerlessness which complicates gender narratives. Diane Hoeveler recasts victimhood as a form of entitlement which authorizes women to strategize within confines of normativity. I contend that it is problematic to conceptualize victimhood as antithetical to privilege when in fact entitlement and marginality are mutually reinforcing. Through a reading of Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, I illustrate how Manfred embodies the victim/victimizer dynamic, which facilitates the exchange of Gothic horror between text and reader. In a refusal to locate pleasure in reading characters outside of gendered social scripts, readers contain threat of Gothic texts through boundaries of gender, class and family. Utilizing Julia Kristeva’s work on identity and suffering, I propose that a vulnerable reading of Gothic horror, outside the compartmentalized bounds of subjectivity, forces the reader to reflect upon stability of selfhood. By failing to recognize the mobility of the victim category, Gothic scholarship reinforces an illusion of predictability even in the most unstable narrative forms. Thus, Gothic critics cannot credit the genre with complete destabilization of identity categories when victimhood, which is the essence of Gothic horror, is consistently read through the identity boundaries scholars like George Haggerty and Jack Halbertstam want to subvert. Beyond reconceptualizing the victim, I argue that the understanding of the category of victim shapes how deeply the Gothic reader as victim can be undone.
Name: Jeremy Chow
Institution: University of California, Santa Barbara US
Abstract: “Trans-itioning to Beckford’s Episodes: Firouz(kah) and Villainous Bodies”
While William Beckford’s Gothic Vathek was published in 1786, the Episodes meant to follow the tribulations of Vathek and his peers in Eblis—understood as Hell—were not published, against Beckford’s wishes, until the early twentieth century. Thus, the Episodes have received less attention and focus than the eponymous Vathek, and yet they rival the larger narrative in both imaginative, seedy plot and sheer length. Beckford’s first Episode, The History of the Two Princes and Friends, Alasi and Firouz(kah) features a fantastical gender-bending prince/ss hell-bent on fomenting pain, anguish, and unapologetic chaos. Firouz, in the initial publication of the Episodes is male, but Beckford’s original intent was to reveal Firouz as his cross dressing twin, Firouzkah. My goal here is not to address a chicken or the egg type argument in which we argue which gendered Firouz(kah) preceded the other. Instead, I find it important for us to consider the plural/trans gender that Beckford’s Firouz(kah) assumes. Through this investigation we bear witness to an important causation in two parts: first, the ambiguous Firouz(kah) narrative and publication history reminds us of the porous, penetrable, and perpetual interchangeability of bodies, and second, the result of this mutability sediments Firouz(kah)’s 3 entrapment in Eblis/Hell. The trans body, as demonstrated by Firouz(kah), is both vilified and empowered through the inversion of a powerful, elite Hell.
Name: Janet Chu
Institution: University of Stirling, Scotland UK
Abstract: “’Neither in nor out of “Blackwood’: From Blackwood’s Magazine’s Gothic Sensationalism to Poe’s Sensational Gothicism”
The transatlantic impact of the Scottish periodical Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine upon Edgar Allan Poe has generally been recognised by scholars such as Margaret Alterton, Michael Allen and Benjamin Fisher. Poe himself, in his Letter 42 and Letter 57, mentions the style of the burlesque and sensational tales published in Blackwood’s, and his attempts at emulating this mode are exemplified most clearly in such tales as ‘Loss of Breath’ and ‘A Predicament’. Further investigation of Blackwood’s and Poe’s tales, however, indicates that even though both manifest certain stylistic parallels ‒ both exploit the comparative/superlative, simile/metaphor, and adverbial intensifiers to generate Gothic horror and terror ‒ Poe distinguishes his writing from Blackwood’s through the integration of dead metaphor into his Gothicism. Frequently in Poe, the adapted ‘dead’ metaphor is unexpectedly and metamorphically literalised and animated, a technique that, lexically and semantically, supplements and intensifies expressions of Gothic supernaturalism. Investigating Poe’s idiosyncratic Gothic rendering of dead metaphor, this paper will trace the supposed inspiration of Blackwood’s burlesques (Poe’s earliest application is observed in his satire ‘Loss of Breath’, which is meaningfully subtitled ‘A Tale neither in nor out of “Blackwood”’), and compare a Blackwood’s sensational tale, ‘The Man in the Bell’ by William Maginn, with Poe’s ‘Shadow ‒ A Parable’ and ‘The Masque of the Red Death’. To sum up, this paper will examine Poe’s ‘in-betweenness’ in his adaptation of Blackwood’s, demonstrating his innovation in translating or ‘migrating’ Blackwoodian burlesque and sensationalism into his own, distinctively Poesque Gothic.
Name: Gregory Luke Chwala
Institution: Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Abstract: “Migrations through Time: the Gothic, Erotohistoriography, and Cultural Imperialism in H. Rider Haggard’s She”
H. Rider Haggard’s novel She is a commentary on cultural imperialism that not only expresses a fear of reverse colonization, but also undermines the developed, late-nineteenth-century systems of stable gender privilege, class patterns, and sexual norms in Great Britain by utilizing a conception of queer, gothic time and characterization. Haggard’s protagonist Ayesha is both uncanny and queer, but what is equally interesting are the ways that the native Amahagger interact with their history and environment from a vantage point of queer ecology. This presentation utilizes speculative queer ecologies to theorize, recognize, and imagine a different kind of world in the African interior from that portrayed by H. Rider Haggard in his novel She. Serialized in 1886-1887, shortly after the start of the imperialist partitioning of Africa by Europe, Haggard’s She is heavily influenced by financial speculation, cultural imperialism, and a fear of divergent gender and sexual norms from those shaped by late nineteenth-century British discourses on racial decline, degeneration, sexology, and gender norms. Scholars have noted how the British often explored cultural digression from these discourses through gothic tropes, supernatural themes, and motifs in stories with foreign, unexplored settings, but it is furthermore useful to reconsider through a lens of queer ecology how and why native characters are portrayed simultaneously both queer and unnatural. In She, the term nature is essentialized and appears frequently, almost always with a negative and degenerative connotation. Yet, upon closer examination, it becomes apparent not only that She disrupts British gender, sexual, and class norms, but also that the novel masks a subtle positive discourse on the relationship between the environment and the erotic, highlights an application of erotohistoriography, and contributes significantly to a dual interrelated fear of erotophobia and ecophobia. Using queer ecology to interrogate the imperial gothic fictional representations of Haggard's racialized, gendered, and sexualized indigenous landscapes and gothic bodies in She, I will argue that the novel veils a speculative culture that values both environmental sustainability and alternative sexualities/gender formations across time that disrupt patterns of place and imperial stability.
Name: Emma Cleary
Institution: Staffordshire University UK
Abstract: “Ghosts in the Phonograph: Tracking Postbody Gothic in Esi Edugyan’s Half Blood Blues and Wayde Compton’s ‘The Reinventing Wheel’”
Phonographic revolutions disrupt topographies of time and space; ghost -like voices rise from the grooves to offer sonic interference and intervention severed from a phenomenology of physical presence.
Utilising the work of musicologist R. Murray Schafer and posthumanist N. Katherine Hayles,this paper examines the spectre of the ghost in sound, with a focus on Black Canadian literature. I present both the spectral figure and sound recording technologies as postbody projections, and read the work of Esi Edugyan and Wayde Compton – both residents of British Columbia, a Western outpost of diasporic experience – for transmissions that cross spatial, temporal, and body boundaries. In Edugyan’s 2011 novel , the recovery of a lost phonograph record functions as corollary to bassist Sid Griffiths’ memories of performing in Nazi occupied Europe, and returns the Baltimorean jazzman to modern -‐ day Paris. Spatial and temporal fissures connect Edugyan ’ s dual narrative as Sid negotiates the ghosts of the past through commemorative migrations across a haunted European landscape, while Compton’s turntable poetry extends the metaphor of the phonograph as a portal through time and space: the dub plate reincarnates his disembodied , pre -‐ recorded voice. Compton ’ s ghosts are quasi -‐ material, zombies dancing in cargo holds – a reference to the Middle Passage – enacting a kinetic impulse capable of ‘moving the text’ (103). I argue that the ghostly emanation of postbody sounds from the body of the phonograph challenges culturally constructed binaries , and forges a blended space for the celebration of plural, hybrid, and mobile identity formations, demolishing paradigms that work to enclose and encode Black Canada.
Name: Joanna Colón-López
Institution: University of Limerick Ireland
Abstract: “From Poe to Quiroga: Tropicalizing the Gothic”
Influence could be considered as one of the various means responsible for the migration of literary movements and styles. Gothic literature in an excellent indicator of this phenomenon, at least in relation to what is known as Tropical Gothic. This term has been coined originally to describe a series of Latin American authors who were influenced by Gothic writers from Europe and North America. One of the most renowned among these writers was the Uruguayan Horacio Quiroga, who made it very clear he admired the works of Edgar Allan Poe. The similarities between Poe and Quiroga are multiple, and they have been noted by several critics. However, despite Quiroga being recognized as a major contributor to horror Fiction in Latin America, the exact relationship of his literature to that of Poe has not been explored in detail. To illustrate this I will engaged in a comparative an analytic study of the following tales: ‘The Cask of Amontillado’, ‘The Prematurial Burial’ and ‘The Masque of the Red Death’ by Poe and ‘El solitario’, ‘El Crimen del Otro’ and ‘La miel Silvestre’ by Quiroga. I will use Harold Bloom’s theory The Anxiety of Influence, in order to understand the different stages of it. In conclusion, I will point out how influence contributes to the ‘tropicalization’ of Gothic.
Name: Ian Conrich
Institution: University of Western Australia
Abstract: “Difficult to Stomach: Food, the Gothic Body and the Global Horror Film”
The horror film has been the most sensationalistic of film genres. Recent developments in new screen technologies have allowed the horror film to explore further the key sensory boundaries of the viewer, with Dolby Digital and the new wave of 3D probing the aural and visual effects of fear. Beyond the cinema industry's increasing reliance on foyer food sales across global markets, film has not (as yet) looked to explore the sensation of taste for enhancing the horror experience. There have been a few reflexive horror titles such as Popcorn (1991), whilst food has been a core component of the sensationalism of the cannibalism subgenre of films, which was particularly virulent in the 1970s and 1980s. This paper, however, is most interested in the global horror film in which death occurs by forced food consumption, or is part of a food repackaging process.
Within the modern horror film there has been an increase in carnography, an unsettling obsession with assaulting the body in protracted and inventive ways. This has included an internal assault on the body, where the victim's death can be related to food and digestion. This occurs in films such as A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989), and Se7en (1995), where the victim is force-fed excessive quantities of food as a perverse statement on their consumerist behaviour. Death as part of a food repackaging process has a longer history within the horror genre. It can be traced back through The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) and the various Sweeney Todd screen adaptations (British and American), as well as being visible in the Hong Kong film Dumplings (2004), and two low budget US horrors, The Stuff (1985) and Ice Cream Man (1995), that will be considered in this paper. In addition, this paper will address the Australian horror film Feed (2005), a movie in the footsteps of Se7en, in which a serial killer is force-feeding obese women to death. Reference will also be made to the Dutch-made The Human Centipede (2009). Food and its culinary delights have a cultural language, where internationally there are different forms, flavours and experiences. Within the global horror film, the extra-ordinary consumption of ‘food’ reveals a world cuisine of competing Gothic treats.
Name: Camilla Gina Dascal
Institution: University of Winnipeg Canada
Abstract: “Dark Silhouettes: Horror Film Imagery in Chester Brown’s Louis RielI”
Chester Brown’s biographic comic Louis Riel (2003) has received international acclaim due to its well-documented and apparently unbiased approach to one of the most polemic figures in Canadian history. As several critics have suggested, the award-winning graphic narrative serves as an engaging introduction to relevant historical events told in a seemingly realistic way. However, the use of a particular visual style and particular cultural references actively shapes the readers’ perspective of the story. Brown’s work ultimately participates in the construction of Riel as myth in the Barthian sense: as a visual representation, the character is emptied of his actual history and acquires new associations. This paper focuses on an unusual aspect of Brown’s comic: the horror film imagery, prominent in its general gothic tone and atmosphere and in its realizations of antagonistic figures.
Through an aesthetic analysis of these representations, it is possible to trace Brown’s graphic style back to the German Expressionism and to black-and-white horror films inspired by this movement, including Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922) and James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931). Aside from highlighting themes of war and violence, the horror film imagery in Brown’s most famous work makes an emblematic historical moment feel contemporary, as it helps the readers engage in visuals they can recognize and simultaneously reflect on the not-so-bright side of Canadian history.
Name: Ian Dawe
Institution: Independent Scholar
Abstract: “Breaking Bad: Sun-Drenched Gothic TV”
Though it may seem incongruous, Breaking Bad (AMC 2005-2013) can be read as a modern Gothic text. It conforms to many of the qualities of such texts as described by Wheatley in Gothic Television and other sources: it focuses on the nuclear family, foregrounds the deterioration of their physical house and home, deals in obvious metaphorical mirror images (Walter White vs Gus Fring) and, at times, it even attains that most essential Gothic quality: the uncanny. Set in the bleak, sun-baked landscape of New Mexico, the show tells the story of High School Chemistry teacher Walter White who, when faced with cancer, turns to synthesizing methamphetamine to raise enough money for his treatment and family. White spirals down into the world of organized international crime and eventually becomes the show’s true villain. Evoking the mystery and culturally-embedded supernatural forces of Mexico and Native American symbology, the show is shot through with a sense of the poetic and tragic. The stylized cinematography emphasizes odd angles, and assertive camera positioning for dramatic effect, such as the harrowing sequence in which Walter White is shown, from above, screaming in the crawlspace of his house as his family and fortune disintegrate. The fate of the White house, in fact, with its destruction and transformation into a signpost of shame, is a fairly classic evocation of an almost Medieval society’s sense of community justice, reminiscent of a Grimm tale. Most Gothic of all, the central family relationships, particularly between the two pairs of husbands and wives in the series (Walter and Skyler White, Hank and Marie Schrader), conform to many Gothic archetypes, such as the rising level of horror felt by Skyler, who must watch her husband transform into the monster he always was. Breaking Bad, in addition to the way in which it challenges genre, morality and masculinity, is also illuminating as a piece of true Gothic television, transported into an unlikely milieu.
Name: Mark Deggan
Institution: Simon Fraser University World Literature Program, British Columbia Canada
Abstract: “’The mysticism of visible things’: Gothic Ecologies & Colonial Performativity – The East Indies Gothicism of de Stille Kracht”
Critics have begun to map the gothic as a mode of ecological encounter with spaces of sensory derangement, yet the means by which environments press readers into states of ‘surprise and horror’ has tended to be sidelined. In order to delineate the aesthetics of the colonial gothic, the present paper shifts interest in the literary performativity of atmospheric environments to the Dutch East Indies. Working from Louis Couperus’s 1900 colonial novel de Stille Kracht (The Hidden Force), the paper traces the ecological excesses by which the tropical gothic defines itself, focusing upon cross-cultural seepages born of the collapse of metropolitan and indigenous notions of the natural. While I situate gothic ambience between nature as the ‘observable features of the world’ and as the metaphysical medium ‘through which humanity thinks its difference and specificity’, my main goal is to locate, in an Eastern setting, the migratory atmospherics of the gothic. Indeed, as peripatetic as global colonialism was, the supernatural affects and phenomena of Couperus’s text can be seen to force the gothic hybridization of east and west. So, too, the novel’s ambient depictions of the environment will be shown to be performative in the symbiotic sense seen of ecological criticism, where the subversive is as much a function of place as of interiority’s transgressive potential. To transpose the words of one of Coetzee’s colonial narrators, the East Indies gothic emerges as a tangible “sphere quivering with violent energies, ready to burst upon whatever fractures me”.
Name: Emma Doolan
Institution: Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Abstract: “Unheimlich Hinterlands: Reading Australia’s East Coast Hinterlands as Gothic Spaces”
This paper examines Australia's east coast hinterlands as Gothic landscapes through literature. The hinterland—literally the land behind—is an inherently liminal space, a region “lying beyond what is visible or known” (OED). Hinterlands are peripheral spaces, always-already possessed regions connected to powerful centres. Australia’s mountainous, forested eastern hinterlands are poised between the densely-inhabited coast and the natural barrier of the Great Dividing Range—beyond which lies Australia's desert heart. They were the landscapes over which the colonial frontier advanced, in which Indigenous peoples were slaughtered and displaced from their lands, and native species, such as the sacred bunya pine of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast hinterland, were decimated. Today, Australia’s eastern hinterlands are home to national parks, and marketed as an intrinsic part of the tourist experience of the coast; their dark pasts are hidden.
In literature of the hinterland, however, the repressed returns. In Inga Simpson's Nest (2014), Queensland's Sunshine Coast hinterland is a living landscape into which children disappear. Melissa Lucashenko's Mullumbimby (2013) sees the reawakening of the Indigenous sacred in the northern New South Wales hinterland. Both these novels are concerned with nests and nesting, with belonging and home, and with the uncanny entanglements of past and present. Combining spatial theory, ecocriticism, and textual analysis, I read the hinterland landscapes of these novels as Gothic spaces where the unheimlich has come to roost, drawing attention to underlying tensions in the Australian cultural imagination, in which the hinterland is situated as a site of recreation and restoration and its colonial and Indigenous histories suppressed.
Name: Dara Downey
Institution: University College Dublin Ireland
Abstract: “Witchcraft and Race in the Contemporary Southern Gothic Imagination”
The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries have been very useful for the depiction of supernatural power and monstrosity in current American popular culture, particularly on the small screen. Arguably since Anne Rice rendered the vampire a sympathetic, attractive creature in her novels, the potential offered by extreme longevity for juxtaposing period drama (in the form of flashbacks or back-stories) with contemporary settings has been repeatedly exploited in Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. This motif has been taken up and extended by more recent offerings such as True Blood, The Vampire Diaries and more explicitly by its spin-off The Originals, and American Horror Story: Coven, to Name but a few.
As the last of these indicates, the exploitation of America’s troubled past has outgrown its dependence on the figure of the vampire, and is increasingly utilised as a means of reimagining witchcraft in ways that are attentive to issues of racism, colonisation, slavery, and ethnic identity. In particular, such programmes map witchcraft onto both non-white, non-Protestant characters, and onto the geographical spaces of the American South, specifically Louisiana and New Orleans, weaving this identification into narratives featuring slavery and the Civil War. This paper argues, however, that this use of the past functions in precisely the same way as the amulets, trinkets, and candles that are inextricable from such shows’ vision of witchcraft – they become simulacra, commodities to be consumed for visuals pleasure, and little more – a state of affairs critiqued or perpetuated to varying degrees in different shows.
Name: Kelly Doyle
Institution: The University of British Columbia (Kelowna) Canada
Abstract: “Migrant Zombies and American Exceptionalism in Marc Foster’s World War Z (2013)”
Zombies are a migratory force in the American imagination with a complex colonial history: originating from the Caribbean and Haiti, the zombie’s legacy comes from people bent to slavery by plantation owners, colonized, subdued, and dehumanized in the wake of American military occupation. Since its filmic inception on American soil in 1932, and especially since 9/11, the migrant zombie has become an allegorical vehicle for American fears of colonization or infiltration by terrorists and displaced peoples both outside and inside its borders.
In World War Z, I explore the ways global zombie migration is a threat to the fantasy figure of the human, which lies at the heart of anthropocentrism and takes precedent over racialized others, displaced peoples, and women. Who is exiled depends on one’s respective position on a disingenuous human hierarchy and their ability for mobility. American hero Gerry Lane traverses the globe positioned as the epitome of the human subject: Caucasian, handsome, able bodied, male and heterosexual. His nationality facilitates a patriotic, gendered, and racialized hierarchy that reifies American exceptionalism and re-affirms the nation’s moral and military superiority. Nonetheless, WWZ paradoxically undermines American exceptionalism and the figure of the human while simultaneously underscoring the ways in which privileging that figure leads to the horrific and normalized dehumanization of those outside and inside national borders in the interest of national security—this is particularly resonant in the film’s Israel scene, in which zombies and Palestinians are synonymous, and in other scenes to be discussed in the paper.
Name: Malgorzata (Gosia) Drewniok
Institution: University of Southampton
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Abstract: “‘An odd vamp out: half-Fae, half-human, all vampire’: Gothic Migrations in Yasmine Galenorn’s Sisters of the Moon series.”
In this paper I would like to explore different levels of Gothic Migrations (genre, physical, and personal) on the example of Yasmine Galenorn’s Sisters of the Moon series. The books tell the story of three Fae sisters from Otherword, who are now based in Seattle. Each sister is different: the eldest, Camille, is a witch. Delilah is a shapeshifter, turning into a tabby cat, and later also a panther. And Menolly is an acrobat-turned-vampire. Camille, Delilah and Menolly take turns in narrating each book, so the reader gets more rounded perspective of their lives and struggles with their awry powers, result of their half-human half-Fae heritage.
In this paper I’d like to focus on one sister: Menolly. Looking at four books narrated by her I’d like to explore the ways in which she embodies Gothic Migrations. This happens on three levels. Firstly, she adds some gothic character to otherwise fantasy genre. Secondly, she finds herself in a different world (home vs. away) and thus sees our world as uncanny. And lastly, she has undergone a transformation into an uncanny being – from an acrobat spy into a creature of the night. I will examine how Menolly presents herself and how these three levels of her Gothic Migrations are expressed in her choice of language.
Name: Diana Edelman-Young
Institution: University of North Georgia, Gainesville
Abstract: “Gothic Medicine”
This paper will consider the manifestation of Gothic in popular and professional medical discourse, particularly the reproductive sciences, of the mid-to-late eighteenth century in Britain. As part of a book project that argues that cultural anxieties about life, birth, and medical intervention manifest themselves in Gothic terms, this essay will discuss works such as Elizabeth Nihell’s Treatise on the Art of Midwifery (1760), William Hunter’s Anatomy of the Human Gravid Uterus (1774), and John Blunt’s Man-Midwifery Dissected (1793). In one of many examples, the Gothic nature of male-midwifery is illustrated clearly in the frontispiece for Blunt’s Man-Midwifery Dissected, Isaac Cruikshank’s caricature of the male-midwife who is pictured as half-man/half-woman, and described as an “animal” and a “monster” who threatens women with potions and sharp instruments. The essay will also discuss several unpublished manuscripts from the Wellcome Library and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London where I will be conducting research this spring. “Gothic Medicine” argues that reading medical texts through the lens of the Gothic (a) reveals the social, political, and cultural implications of the reproductive body and (b) enables scholars to interpret Gothic novels such as Radcliffe’s, Smith’s, Dacre’s, and Shelley’s as direct critiques of the reproductive sciences.
Name: Gabriel Eljaiek-Rodríguez
Institution: Lawrence University, Wisconsin, USA
Abstract: “Gothic in the Tropics: Mobilizations and Transformations of the Gothic in the Colombian Hot Lands”
Forget about Transylvania, London, or Ingolstadt. Beginning in the 1980s the Colombian city of Cali became a preferred destination for monsters and horrors whose origins were in Europe and the United States. Colombian film directors Luis Ospina and Carlos Mayolo – who first coined the term “Tropical Gothic” in 1982 to describe his first two films – along with the writer Andres Caicedo invited these creatures to their city and developed a particular way to translate, narrate and film Gothic stories in the tropical climate of Cali. In these stories ghosts and vampires move through plantations and houses in the Valle del Cauca and Cali, haunting their inhabitants and drinking their blood, ultimately integrating themselves into high class families, whose members are figurative vampires who have themselves spent years scaring and sucking the blood of peasants and workers.
I argue in my paper that these artists offer a critical vision of their contemporary contexts by situating Gothic characters, topics, and environments out of place, using them as a way to talk about and represent the unspeakable (depending on the context, the unspeakable could be incest, violence, social inequality or the abject) as well as a way to both pay homage to and criticize the Gothic genre. I analyze the migrations and transformations of Gothic tropes and characters in two movies, Pura sangre (1982) by Luis Ospina and Carne de tu carne (1983) by Carlos Mayolo, and two short stories written by Andrés Caicedo.
Name: Gabriel Eljaiek-Rodríguez
Institution: Lawrence University US
Abstract: “Sun seeker Vampires. Cuban Transformations of the Vampire Trope.”
F.W. Murnau's worst nightmare came to life in 1985, when vampires, emboldened by the protection afforded by the Cuban- made potion Vampisol, invaded the beaches of Havana. No longer were humans protected from vampires by the glare of daylight. This was an outcome that neither Murnau, nor Polidori or Stoker were expecting, and one that was made possible thanks to the transformation of the vampire trope that Cuban filmmaker Juan Padrón explored in his movie Vampiros en la Habana (Vampires in Havana). His vampires – direct descendants of Count Dracula himself – are happy inhabitants of the Latin American “hot-lands” and are eager to share with their less-informed brethren their ability to survive in such weather, where they can “suck blood at any time”, as one of the characters asserts.
In this paper I will analyze how Vampiros en la Habana, its 2003 sequel, and several other short films with similar vampiric themes directed by Padrón (from the Muñequitos cubanos), transform and hybridize the figure of the vampire, transporting it to a strange environment in order to mock traditional conventions and show that it is indeed possible for a vampire to survive in the tropics. As Padrón demonstrates throughout his corpus of work, the vampires now embrace the periphery (whether Transylvania or Cuba) and are able to defend themselves against the greater evil of invaders from the center, problematizing the colonial principle where the hot-lands are synonymous with Otherness and barbarism.
Name: Jaquelin Elliott
Institution: University of Florida
Abstract: “Transatlantic Haunted Houses: The Heterotopia of the Ship in Gothic Literature and New Traditions”
For as much as it represents exploration, ingenuity, and freedom, the ship has secured a place for itself in the Gothic imagination as a space of claustrophobic terror and enslavement. As a Foucauldian heterotopia, the space of the ship is indeed “a place without a place”, which functions only in relation to the void that surrounds it. However, the asylum a ship provides is what also makes it a prison, trapping its crew with any hostile elements that may be aboard.
Focusing on a select group of texts, including Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno and Moby-Dick, this presentation will examine the ship, that “heterotopia par excellence”, as a Gothic environment. It will discuss not only the ship’s potential for Gothic horror, but also the role of the ship in the establishment of Transatlantic and Empire Gothic as unique literary phenomena that explicitly address the anxieties and monstrosity of imperialism. Naturally, this discussion will consider the role of the slave ship and its understandable importance in American Gothic Horror (from Benito Cereno to Beloved).
Finally, the presentation will briefly examine the heterotopia of the ship in more contemporary Gothic fiction – particularly, sci-fi/horror films like Ridley Scott’s Alien, in which the Gothic trappings of the ship are transferred over to the spacecraft. Often referred to as “a haunted house movie in space”, Alien not only utilizes the claustrophobic space of the ship for optimum horror, but, like the Transatlantic Gothic before it, brings some of the more monstrous consequences of imperialism to light.
Name: Wendy Fall
Institution: Marquette University
Abstract: “Unholy Migrations: The Travels and Transformations of the Bleeding Nun”
This paper tracks the travels of the bleeding nun tale, both across the national borders of France, Germany, and England, and also from novels to chapbooks. To accomplish this, I engage in close readings of the tale in Johann Musäus’ “Die Entfuhrüng,” Stéphanie Félicité de Genlis’ Les Chevaliers du Cygne, and Matthew Lewis’ The Monk, comparing them in terms of plot, characterization, and imagery. I will then examine the bleeding nun tale’s reiterations in the 1799 chapbook version entitled “The Bleeding Nun of the Castle of Lindendorff; or, The History of Raymond and Agnes” and the 1805 chapbook version “Almagro and Claude,” to add them to the pool of compared tales. Briefly, I’ll consider her hold over other audiences, including theatre-goers and children who played with bleeding nun toy dolls. Finally, I will take a broad view, analyzing all of the aforementioned bleeding nuns as a group. By performing this type of analysis I reveal the changes the tale undergoes as it travels, and therefore comes under the influence of different nationalistic and ideological movements.
Name: Sorcha Ní Fhlainn
Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University UK
Email: S.Ni-Fhlainn@mmu.ac.uk Sorcha.Ni.Fhlainn@gmail.com
Abstract: “’I am the vampire of this age’: Dislocations, Adaptations, and the End of the Articulate Undead in Anne Rice’s Prince Lestat (2014) and Dracula Untold (2014)”
In 2014, the revival of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles with the publication of Prince Lestat (2014) promised a return to late 20th century vampire narratives, updated for a modern and digital age. Rice’s lavish series returned after a controversial decade of absence – a decade in which vampires were utterly reshaped and transformed in light of paranormal romance fiction and the unprecedented success of Twilight and its film adaptations. While the narrative trend of softening and romanticising the vampire has become normative today, a tension has become evident where Rice’s new vampire narrative, and Dracula’s relocation to the margins of a 1990s film adaptation, reveal a distinct ‘pastness’ and empty reuse of 20th century vampires in a new century that seems to reject them. In Dracula Untold (Dirs. Andy Cockrum and Gary Shore, 2014) – released the same month as Prince Lestat – Dracula returns not in another loose reinterpretation of the 1897 Stoker novel, but rather as an excavation of the opening prologue of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 film Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In this simulacrum of adaptations of the prologue of yet another adaptation of Dracula, there is now no need to return to the source novel at all; it has been replaced and overwritten by Coppola’s 1990s Hollywood Gothic adaptation as a source text in its own right. Have the gothic migrations of the 19th century vampire, and the articulations of Rice’s 1970s undead brood, been overwritten and removed as a source of influence altogether? Have they merely been rehashed as an empty cipher that has been repackaged in an age that simply has evolved beyond them? Do these texts now simply exist as relics of previous centuries that are dislocated and jaded in this century? This paper proposes to explore Rice’s new Vampire Chronicles novel Prince Lestat and the recent film Dracula Untold as continuing (but still relevant?) vampire narratives and asks, is an implosion of the genre imminent, or has it already taken place?
Name: Devyn Flesher
Institution: University of Northern British Columbia
Abstract: “From Scoundrels to Sweethearts: A Metamorphosis of Monsters in Contemporary Young Adult Fiction”
Vampires and Zombies are two examples of classic monsters who traditionally hide in the shadows, ready to jump out and convert or kill unsuspecting young people. Since the mid-1980s there has been a slow and steady transformation of these undead villains, from the stuff of nightmares to the heroes and lovers of contemporary film, television and novels aimed, primarily, at adolescent girls. While the trope of the vampire has had more than a century to take hold, the zombie has had less than half as much time to be cemented into the collective consciousness. The vampire has been constant in its sexual subtext with only minor changes to coincide with socio-cultural attitudes, where the Zombie has been an all-encompassing metaphor for a variety of general social ills, only to become more focused and specific as he has transformed from faceless swarm to sympathetic individual. As western culture has evolved ever-changing political and social fears and anxieties over the course of the Twentieth, and into the Twenty-first century, the things that go bump in the night have been resurrected to come to the rescue, and even form lasting relationships with human girls, struggling to find their place in the new millennium.
Name: Jessica Folio
Institution: University Of Reunion Island, Saint Denis, Reunion Island, France
Abstract: “Stephen King’s Gothic: a monstration of the Thing”
This paper attempts at widening the scope of interpretation on Stephen King’s work by unveiling the remodeling of various Gothic motifs through maze-like narratives which trap the readers into a locus where the defamiliarization of the familiar prevails.
Suffused with the themes of transgression or decomposition, the Gothic genre also expresses a rupture of the Symbolic order (let’s not forget its original rejection of the rigid approach of the Enlightenment) along with an otherisation of the characters’ bodies. Our title, at first view oxymoronic, aims at hinting at the way King hypermonstrates what cannot be shown, the gothicised body, the Thing, in a fragmented body of the text itself. Jacques Lacan’s perspective on the Thing as “this beyond-of-the-signified” (The Ethics, 54) rejoins Slavoj Zizek’s analysis of the Thing as an irruption of the Real into the Symbolic (the Real being what cannot be grasped by the Logos). It exemplifies how the common gothic tropes haunting King’s texts are deviated to be an auxiliary of the most nightmarish fantasies.
The gothicised body (Christine, From a Buick 8, It, the Shining, Rose Madder) or space (11/22/63, “N,” “The Mist,” “The Raft”) suffusing the text with trauma leaves the latter with the impossibility of reaching closure, of reasserting the Symbolic, accounting for the characters’ oscillation into insanity. King’s work is the “experience of ‘Something’ (the stain on the Real” (Zizek), an excess of unsayability which confines the reader in a perennial abreactic fascination.
Name: Kate Gadsby-Mace
Institution: University of Sheffield UK
Abstract: “The Gothic Nation: Landscape, Architecture and the Wanderer in William Henry Ireland’s Gondez the Monk (1805)”
Best known for his notorious Shakespeare forgeries and widely ostracised because of them, William Henry Ireland was himself a Gothic wanderer of sorts. He was disowned by his family, excluded from literary circles, exiled from London life and forced to publish his prolific works under a series of nom de plumes to protect them from critical ire. Subsisting on the margins of society and unable to establish a literary career under a fixed Name, Ireland was an outcast in his native country. Thus it comes as no surprise to read Britain as an inhospitable, barren and uncanny Gothic landscape throughout his works.
My paper will focus specifically on Ireland’s Gothic novel Gondez the Monk (1805) and his treatment of the domestic setting. It will discuss the characterisation of his displaced and orphaned hero, and the parallels that Ireland drew between his own life and that of his Gothic wanderer. It will also examine his critical representation of medieval Britain – its history and heritage, its architecture and landscape, and its politics and society. Ireland’s depiction of his homeland as brutal and oppressive sheds light not only on his personal prejudices but also on the state of contemporary politics in the aftermath of the French Revolution. Throughout, I will also address how his work relates to that of his fellow authors who used Britain as a backdrop for their Gothic fiction and populated it with Gothic wanderers to critique the state of the nation at the turn of the century.
Name: Kelly Gardner
Institution: University of Stirling UK
Abstract: “Survival Space in the Contemporary Zombie Apocalypse”
The space of apocalypse is one of transition, modification and change; apocalyptic discourse emphasizes the transition or ‘migration’ from the Old World to The New Jerusalem. Often this transition is characterized by a journey and an abandonment of a once-familiar environment, now made uncanny in the aftermath of an apocalyptic event. This characteristic, so prominent in several contemporary imaginings of the zombie, received its earliest Gothic treatment in Richard Matheson’s I am Legend (1954). Here, Matheson inverted a sense of typical Gothic space by relocating the threat ‒ something that haunts from within ‒ to an external agent that endeavors to enter what John Edgar Browning terms the ‘Gothic edifice’. Against this threat, the novel is concerned with the formation and maintenance of a ‘survival space’, a construct that becomes a prevalent theme and concern in the plethora of zombie narratives inspired by Matheson’s novel. The landscape of the Zombie Apocalypse, it is fair to say, is littered with promises of survival spaces; however, the security of those spaces is as fragile and as tenuous as the human life that they contain. The figure of the zombie destabilises the common perception of place; the relationship with the immediate environment requires reassessment and those who are unable to adapt to the new world will be left behind. Focusing on notions of change, transition and migration, this paper will explore the establishment of survival spaces in George Romero’s Dead Series (1968-2010) and AMC’s The Walking Dead (2010-2014), arguing that the post-apocalyptic environment becomes uncanny in its ‘otherness’ , and that, in order to survive, characters must navigate the environment estranged from its familiarity.
Name: Monica Germana
Institution: University of Westminster UK
Abstract: “Sea Voyages and ‘Dark Continents’ A Gothic Reading of Jane Campion’s The Piano”
‘The Piano’s mood is gothic, its temporal context is Victorian, the scene is New Zealand, but its sexual overtones are decidedly Freudian.’ (Alan A. Stone)
Dealing with the staple themes of Victorian Gothic – sexual transgression, patriarchal marriage, the silencing of women’s voices – the Gothic appeal of Jane Campion’s film The Piano (1993) has often been acknowledged by many film critics and reviewers. The film’s intertextual structure, gesturing to canonical texts such as Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights – but also earlier archetypal stories of female oppressions such as Charles Perrault’s ‘Bluebeard’s Castle’ – further underpins the Gothic aesthetic of The Piano. Simultaneously, the evocative use of the colonial setting allows The Piano to offer a disquieting exploration of feminine and racial otherness. At the heart of the film is the question of foreignness, the key issue which this paper examines and which the film engages with in multiple ways. Combining colonial responses to the hostile wilderness of New Zealand with the female resistance to domesticity, the film exposes, in problematic fashion, the politics of the colonial/male gaze and control over both female body and colonised land, and the acts of transgressions/resistance against them. While the mutilation of the female body runs parallel to the rape of the land, the film points to the transgression of cultural norms, political frontiers and personal boundaries as the unsettling manifestations of uncanny foreignness, which troubles all familiar normative parameters, in the attempt to unveil its own ‘dark continents’.
Name: Catherine Girodet
Institution: Université Paul Valéry Montpellier III France
Abstract: “Nick Cave and the American Southern Gothic: Hybridising the Tune”
Australian singer-songwriter Nick Cave has established himself as a versatile musician with an abiding taste for the gothic tropes of violence and the taboo, as well as an aesthetics of the extremes. Eluding categorisation, Cave’s idiosyncratic musicscape is haunted by the ghosts of gothic geographical and cultural landscapes, notably by the American Deep South. This cross-cultural hybridisation imparts Cave’s musical text with distinct American folk music overtones, whilst providing his lyrical scope with a Southern Gothic thematic palette of transgression, insanity and the barbaric. Moreover, Cave’s encounter with the Deep South exposes his music to the literary tradition of the Southern Gothic, thus paving the way for a generic crossover from popular music to literature.
As part of a contribution to the IGA Conference, I propose to analyse how Cave, in his 1990’s musical works, uses the Gothic South and its traditions as a site for inter-generic experimentation and cultural hybridisation. In particular, I shall examine how the musician draws upon a literary genre, the Southern Gothic, to broaden and hybridise his own musicscape with peculiar cultural and literary inflections. I shall demonstrate how, in appropriating staple Southern Gothic narrative structures and devices, Cave blurs the generic boundaries between music and literature, and effectively blazes his own transcultural trail into literary orality. Cave’s foray into the American South thus delineates a liminal gothic space, which relies upon a dynamic of conflating geographies, themes, and stylistic features, thus testifying to the core malleability of Gothic.
Name: Derek Gladwin
Institution: University of British Columbia Canada
Abstract: “Gothic Spaces of Heterotopia in The Island of Dr. Moreau”
This paper examines how the overlooked spatial qualities in H.G. Wells’ Gothic novel The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896) are usefully revealed through Michel Foucault’s notion of heterotopias – spaces of ‘otherness’ functioning in larger knowable spaces. Moreau’s island presents a Gothicized counter-vision to theories of evolution being employed in England by the 1890s, and it serves as migratory route in a tropical Gothic location that supports his devious racial experimentation. Imperial expansion in this period established both real and conceptual spaces that resemble heterotopic sites, or ‘sites found within culture’ that were ‘simultaneously represented, contested, and inverted’ (Foucault 1986: 24). Such a site is where Wells sets his late Victorian Gothic novel Dr. Moreau, a work that challenges existence governed by time through one organized by space, and one that underscores themes of migration and travel in this period. This paper argues that Foucault’s concept of heterotopia – a place or site organized into a larger knowable space where ideal organization of the norm becomes confronted by its ‘counter-site’ of anomalous contradictions – reveals many of the spatial elements in the imperial Gothic novel Dr. Moreau. Spaces of heterotopia might also usefully be linked with the literary and cultural traditions of the ‘imperial Gothic’, a Gothic form that examines migration and travel to remote regions of the empire, and these Gothic spaces provide a way to investigate the unknown geographies of confinement and bodies of embodiment found on this unNamed tropic island.
Name: Antonio Alcalá González
Institution: Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico City
Abstract: “Scandinavian Black Metal and the Return of the Past: The Case of the Black Metal Band, Emperor”
One of the most recurrent Gothic motifs that reappears in different contexts of artistic expression is the return of the past. Traditionally, this brings back uncanny memories that challenge the norms that guard civilization. In the lyrics of the first two albums by the Scandinavian Black Metal band, Emperor, this Gothic return is approached from a non traditional but equally uncanny view. While the Gothic usually sees this irruption as a threat, for Emperor it means a positive arrival of the dark forces of nature that once went through repression in order to grant the persistence of the civilized. According to Emperor, if the past is a dark one, this occurs because light, viewed as reason, has isolated and blinded man from a possibility to return to his original condition within nature. The purpose of this paper is to explore the presence of a Gothic longing for the past in the lyrics of the albums In the Nightside Eclipse and Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. I will analyze how the return of the past is reworked and presented by the band as a richer proposal of existence when compared to the standards on which modern civilization has conformed itself.
Name: Alan Gregory
Institution: Lancaster University UK
Abstract: “Perpetuum (Im)Mobile: Enforced Migrations of the Black Disabled Female Body in Stephen King’s The Drawing of the Three”
In Extraordinary Bodies (1997), a seminal study of literary representations of physical disability, Rosemarie Garland Thomson identifies the presence of a figure in black women’s writing that presents ‘a vision of black female subjectivity that insists upon and celebrates physical difference’ (105). Literary representations of this figure manifest beyond black women’s writing, however, permeating the Gothic fiction of white male writers, including Stephen King. This is particularly evident in his representation of schizophrenic double leg amputee Odetta Holmes in The Drawing of the Three (1987).
Rendered passive and compliant while being ‘drawn’ from 1964 New York into the world of gunslinger, Roland Deschain, Odetta initially conforms to a cultural gender script which, Garland Thomson suggests, presents black female disabled bodies as dependent, incomplete and vulnerable. While the intermittent emergence of Odetta’s aggressive alternate, Detta Walker, challenges that vulnerability, King ultimately sustains a celebration of physical difference by merging the split personalities of Odetta Holmes and Detta Walker into the unified figure, Susannah Dean – a process facilitated by their enforced migration from the keystone world of 1964 New York, a world changed by African-American civil rights activist Rosa Parks’s declaration ‘I’m not moving’, to Mid-World.
Although Susannah’s newfound psychological wholeness is not mirrored corporeally, it is presented by King as a catalyst for further movement. Despite her physical disability gesturing towards immobility, King’s text concludes with an initiation of motion as Susannah begins another migration from the beach of the Western Sea to the Gothic topography of the Dark Tower.
Name: Ardel Haefele-Thomas
Institution: City College of San Francisco US
Abstract: “‘My Real Name Would Be Uncouth To Your Ears’: Global Gender Transgressions in Three Fin-de-Siècle Werewolf Stories”
My paper focuses on three late Victorian werewolf stories: Rudyard Kipling’s “The Mark of the Beast” (1890), Clemence Housman’s “The Were-Wolf” (1890), and Eric Stenbock’s “The Other Side: A Breton Legend” (1893). In each of the stories, the author has chosen to set the action outside of 19th Century Britain, and in one case, another country and another century; however, the issues plaguing fin-de-siècle culture continue to pervade each tale. Rudyard Kipling had trouble finding a publisher for “The Mark of the Beast” – and it is no wonder. The fantastically Orientalist story set in India makes a mockery of Indian religion and iconography. In the homosocial world of English men in India coming together for an evening out full of camaraderie and drinking, it all ends badly when one of them is so grossly drunk that he defiles a statue of Hanuman, a monkey with supernatural powers only to have an ancient leper curse him. What ensues is an odd tale of bestial transformations within the very English home in the middle of India. The leper and Hanuman are feminized throughout the story in order to underscore the hyper-masculinity of the colonizers. Clemence Housman, a social advocate and Suffragist, chose to set her werewolf story in frozen Medieval Scandinavia. Her werewolf, quite the opposite of Kipling’s, is a woman with the stature and strength of a man. Whilst Housman certainly upholds the stereotype of the monstrous woman as werewolf – a sort of femme fatale – her most interesting critique about gender roles and gender transgressions lies with her look at the twin brothers Sweyn and Christian. Through the literal migrations over the frozen landscape, Housman forces the reader to re-think stereotypes of masculinity. Ultimately, Christian is Christ-like in his sacrifice to save his hyper-masculine brother. Underneath this tale, it can be argued that Housman interrogates various Victorian notions of the so-called “muscular Christianity.” Finally, the quirky aesthete, Eric Stenbock gives us a story as decadent as Vernon Lee’s “Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady” in his presentation of Breton (although it is most likely his childhood Estonia) and the fantastical world literally divided by a magical stream. This is the story of the “too” feminine little boy Gabriel who is bullied by his schoolmates because he does not like to hunt or partake in any other “boyish” activities. Laden with coded language that even a late 19th C. readership could have understood, Gabriel crosses the stream to the forbidden “other side” where he is seduced by a beautiful female werewolf. This tale, even more so than Kipling’s or Housman’s, underscores the constant shift – or migrations - of the boundaries between locations, genders, and species, so much configured and metynomized by the existence of trans bodies.
Name: Olivia Harsan
Institution: La Trobe University
Abstract: “Worlds Collide: Merging Realms and Transcending Specters in the Writings of Mircea Eliade and Films of Béla Tarr”
Humanity often experiences surreal moments that seem beyond the explanation of science. Phenomena like fog replicating human figures will forever be argued as coincidence but the work of Mircea Eliade and Béla Tarr alludes to a more complex answer. There are two realms that function at a parallel level in Nights at Serampore. The first is set in Calcutta sometime during the 1930s and details the strange experiences of three friends who inexplicably find themselves witness to the murder of a young woman that happened over 150 years ago – the other realm. The narrator deciphers the events to some degree, however his conclusions remain detached from the familiar world, seeking solace from implications belonging to temporal dislocation. On the Great Hungarian Plain where time is ambiguous, the spirit of the little girl Estike appears before a group of men in Béla Tarr’s Sátántangó (1994). Her nightgown levitates in the air while her body reclaims its shape through fog. We come to know Estike through the last moments of her life as she shifts between the spaces of the nearby wood, attic of her broken home and the ruins at Weinkheim Castle where she commits suicide, reliving the ritual in which she murdered her cat. Two perspectives will be juxtaposed – that of the narrator belonging to the familiar world and of the ghost of Estike. Both characters transcend from one realm to the other but what makes our world the normal and the real? Realms intersect and entities collide through the mysterious corridors of transcendence, while the past continues to haunt the present.
Name: Jason Haslam
Institution: Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia Canada
Abstract: “’The newly launched monster’: The Titanic Horror of the Modern”
My paper will examine the traces of gothic discourse present in early representations of the Titanic disaster, specifically Thomas Hardy's "The Convergence of the Twain" (1915), Joseph Conrad's essays on the disaster, and the earliest book-length account, The Sinking of the Titanic (1912), edited by Logan Marshall. Images of monstrosity, the abject horror of corpses, and the terror of the failure of modern technologies all appear in these works, albeit in different forms, and express the confusion rendered by the new possibilities, especially in relation to class and identity, made available by the modern technologies of mass transatlantic migration and the subsequent transformations it brought to material and cultural economies.
All three works represent the horror of the Titanic's sinking as the result of the supposedly infelicitous commixture of elements within the modern world, offering a symbolic locus for both conservative and progressive reactions against modernity. Logan presents the mixture of "[m]illionaire and pauper, titled grandee and weeping immigrant" as producing a set of unreconcilable tensions that in themselves seem to defeat the ship, the "newly launched monster" that "seemed to have breeding and blue blood that would keep it going until its heart broke." The suicide of the First Officer is presented as a symbol for the inability to cope with the new (and literal) layering of social power: "From the decks there came to him the shrieks and groans of the caged and drowning, for whom all hope of escape was utterly vanished. He evidently never gave a thought to the possibility of saving himself, his mind freezing with the horrors he beheld and having room for just one central idea -- swift extinction." Likewise, the collapsing of the sublime space of the Atlantic into a commercial commodity destroys the transcendent experience of the ocean for London, transforming its existential depths into shallow consumerism, the necessities of life on the ocean traded for the luxuries of a transatlantic lifestyle ("the first reflection which occurs to one" he writes, "is that, if that luckless ship had been a couple of hundred feet shorter, she would have probably gone clear of the danger. But then, perhaps, she could not have had a swimming bath and a French café"). The incommensurability of the Titanic's sinking is similarly signalled for Hardy in its juxtapositioning of the "grotesque" and "gilded."
The Titanic was thus always already a ghost ship, through which the gothic itself migrates to the "real" world: as an incarnation of Hogle's "ghost of the counterfeit," its sinking is seemingly preordained by the impending disasters of modernity's unfathomable movement away from the transcendent experience of a sublime world to its commercial commodification. These glancing gothic spectres surrounding the sinking of the Titanic allow us to see anew the impact of the modern collapse of transatlantic distance and difference.
Name: Tim Haner
Institution: University of the Fraser Valley Canada
Abstract: “Frankenstein and the Rhetoric of Shakespearean Tragedy”
It is almost impossible to discuss Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein (1818) without reference to the idea of justice, and critical discussion often centres on the question as to whom is more to blame for the considerable suffering depicted in the novel: Victor Frankenstein or his unNamed creation. The concept of justice is mediated in this text by a number of intertexts, perhaps most obviously Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667). Like Satan, the creature has been driven to his deeds by an uncaring creator, and like Satan, his suffering outweighs his crimes.
However, there is another important intertextual influence in the novel that goes unnoticed: Shakespeare’s tragic drama Julius Caesar (1623). I shall argue that this play provides the template for the novel’s crucial concluding scene in which the creature addresses Walton, the character to whom Frankenstein has been telling his own version of the story. As I shall argue, Walton is also a surrogate for the reader, and the novel concludes with the creature’s attempt to wrest narrative control from his now deceased creator. In this scene, one that threatens to breach the dramatic fourth wall, the creature attempts to undo the image of an evil monster that his creator has painted for Walton. Availing himself of the resources of the rhetoric of Shakespearean tragedy, the creature seeks to elicit Walton’s - and thus the reader’s - sympathy and thereby find justice and literary immortality as the tragic hero of his own story rather than the villain of his creator’s.
Name: Kala Hirtle
Institution: Dalhousie University Canada
Abstract: “From Anesthesia to Automaton?: Exploring Altered States in Le Fanu's Carmilla”
Important changes take place in the characterization of the vampire between the earliest vampire texts, such as Coleridge’s “Christabel” (wr. 1797; published 1817) and Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819) and later narratives such as Le Fanu's Carmilla (1871). By focussing on the figure of the vampire this paper will use concepts of sexual difference and medical theory to consider how to address a current gap in the scholarship.
A critical factor in the shift between 1820 and 1870 that can explain the resulting transformation from the vampire as exerting control over the mind to the vampire as exerting control over the body is the development of an effective anesthesia, and cultural responses to this medical innovation. A watershed moment for medicine, October 1846 marks the first use of surgical anesthesia: it allowed surgeons to perform delicate procedures painlessly. Yet, the innovation of anesthesia contributed to the increasing separation of mind and body in medical thought: the anesthetized body, like the figure of vampire or the sleepwalker, was terrifying because such phenomena undermine human agency and question whether the body is self-determined or self-automated. In my paper, “From Anesthesia to Automaton,” I will explore Le Fanu’s representation of altered states in Carmilla. I posit that because Carmilla’s “nocturnal excursions and depredations” (Nethercot 34) take place during her sleep, the ambiguity about her characterization as an evil force differs from the response to other nineteenth-century vampires.
Name: Diane Long Hoeveler
Institution: Marquette University Milwaukee, Wisconsin US
Abstract: “The Not-so New Gothic: Charlotte Brontë’s Juvenilia and the Gothic Tradition”
The Brontë sisters began their literary careers when a set of wooden soldiers was shared with them by their brother Branwell, who was himself keen to have his siblings join him in a round of literary mythmaking. Writing plays and stories specifically designed to be read by the twelve-inch soldiers was the task he set for his sisters (Glen 10). The early writings that resulted from this imaginative play—specifically Charlotte’s “An Interesting Passage” (1830), “Visits in Verrepolis, vols. I and II” (1830), The Green Dwarf: A Tale of the Present Perfect, with its interpolated vignette “Napoleon and the Spectre” (1833), and The Spell: An Extravaganza (1834)—reveal how thoroughly immersed Charlotte was in the Gothic literary tradition that had saturated Great Britain and Europe for the past fifty years.[i] Although literary historians routinely point to the influence of The Arabian Nights, Sir Walter Scott, George Gordon, Lord Byron, the Lady’s Magazine, Fraser’s, Forget Me Not, and Blackwood’s Magazine stories in particular on the imaginations of the sisters,[ii] a major overlooked source for a number of their works is the Gothic novel and, more specifically, the down-market garish works typified by authors such as Elizabeth Carver, Thomas Isaac Horsley Curties, Charlotte Dacre, George Walker, and W. H. Ireland. I make this claim because many of the tropes in the juvenilia seem to echo (very uncannily) the plots, characters, and representations in the novels of these authors.[iii] While Robert Heilman has claimed that the Gothic that we see in the mature works of Charlotte is a sort of “new” Gothic, more clearly psychological and focused on the effects of the internalization of the hackneyed tropes of the traditional Gothic, [iv] in fact, such a claim is only accurate if we ignore the juvenilia, which is highly derivative and not “new” at all. This paper asks what difference does the juvenilia make when critics make claims about Brontë’s literary career based only on the mature novels? I hope here to correct Heilman’s thesis by expanding our consideration of Brontë’s texts and by including a discussion of her juvenilia as what I would call the not-so-new gothic.
The Gothic aesthetic and its genre conventions pervaded the writings of the Brontë sisters from their very earliest readings and writings as adolescents through to their last pieces of fiction. But Charlotte seems to have wanted to go out of her way to dismiss the influence that the magazine or down-market Gothics had on her mature compositions. Her heroine Jane Eyre tells us that “In those days I was young, and all sorts of fancies bright and dark tenanted my mind: the memories of nursery stories were there amongst other rubbish” (135). But what exactly constituted that “other rubbish” read by not only Jane, but Charlotte as well? We know that Charlotte read the works of Jane Austen, presumably Northanger Abbey, as well as Ann Radcliffe’s The Italian, but I would surmise that she also read rather widely in the Gothic genre and I make that claim because of the many very distinct Gothic novelistic echoes in the juvenilia. Specifically, this paper will focus on the tropes of bodysnatching, witchcraft and demonology, the violence produced by the aristocratic female Gothic anti-heroine, haunting by political enemies, and the motif of the doppelgänger, all of which when they are employed in the juvenilia very closely resemble scenes in a number of popular but certainly not canonical gothic novels.
[i] The same claim may be true for Anne and Emily Bronte, although we do not know because their jointly composed Gondal Saga has not survived.
[ii] Christine Alexander (1993) has provided the fullest discussion of the influence of the Lady’s Magazine tales, as well as Fraser’s Magazine, Blackwood’s Magazine, and the annuals—Friendship’s Offering and the Forget Me Not—on their earliest writings. Her reading of Charlotte’s juvenilia concludes that it is “a dual exploitation of Gothic and anti-Gothic,” much in the mode of Austen’s Northanger Abbey (1993: 428). Also see Glen, who points to James Ridley’s Tales of the Genii as an important influence (11).
[iii] Hoeveler, The Gothic Ideology (2014), surveys these Gothics with an eye toward their anti-Catholic concerns. I think that the ideological content of many of these chapbooks and non-canonical Gothic novels would have appealed to Charlotte and certainly help explain the profusion of anti-Catholic tropes in Villette. On that subject, also see Peschier, McGlamery, Clarke, and Clark-Beatty for discussions of the novel within popular anti-Catholic discourses of the period.
[iv] See Heilman for a discussion of Charlotte’s “new” gothic: a transfer from an emphasis on the external tropes of the genre (deserted castles and ruins, a quasi-incestuous rapist, a conniving nun or monk, etc.) to the heroine’s subjective and individualized responses to those sources of terror or horror.
Name: Jerrold E. Hogle
Institution: The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, US
Abstract: “The “Gothic Complex” in Shelley Revisited: From Zastrozzi to Julian and Maddalo and ‘England in 1819’”
I have argued previously before the IGA that P.B. Shelley’s writing, during but also long after his early Gothic novels Zastrozzi and St. Irvyne (1810-11), exploits the symbolic possibilities, including the deep contradictions, most basic to the Gothic as a self-questioning and Janus-faced mode from Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764) onwards. Shelley does so to such an extent, especially as he matures, I want to argue now, that it is those very dynamics that make many of his writings after 1817 what they finally are. By developing what he first confronts in his early novels even in his extremely productive annus mirabilis year (1819), I would even say, he makes the Gothic as Walpole established it a major symbolic nexus by which he deals with the most important and conflicted among his fervent beliefs. By this point, in fact, Shelley develops a mature “Gothic complex” of interacting symbolic processes that fulfills the potentials of this mode in his earliest work, and such late migrations of these end up driving his poems as much as he employs and transmogrifies the Gothic. The results appear, not just in later works of his that have been noted by now for their uses of the Gothic, but in works where the Gothic complex in them has rarely been noticed and even more rarely explained. I therefore propose in this paper to analyze the workings of this complex in two very different Shelley texts of 1819: his Julian and Maddalo, particularly in the way it answers Byron’s extremely Gothic “The Prisoner of Chillon” (1816), and the sonnet “England in 1819,” which, remains, as James Chandler has seen, one of the most concise renderings of Shelley’s politics and is, for me, his most Gothic vision of Janus-faced historical progress.
Name: Kathleen Hudson
Institution: University of Sheffield
Abstract: “I say it is mine”: Narrative migration and colonization in Charlotte Dacre’s 'Zofloya, or The Moor'
The character Zofloya in Charlotte Dacre’s 1806 novel of the same Name is distinct as a Gothic servant not only in his racial identity but also in his role as a ‘performing’ narrator. In addition to incorporating 'Orientalist' aesthetics, Zofloya engages with a system of narrative empowerment and colonization, vocalizing a liminal narrative and while emphasizing the structural mechanisms of the Gothic genre. As such, Zofloya’s engagement with transitions, transferences, migrations and movement in the text suggest the colonization of identity through a self-aware Gothic narrative. Zofloya subverts socio-culturally ‘legitimate’ modes of narrative in order to embody a Gothic self and transform / colonize the identities of those around him. This is apparent in Zofloya’s narrative performance of his own past, in his consistent influence over the protagonist Victoria, and in his final abduction and consumption of Victoria both literally and within the context of narrative expression. As a servant the power which Zofloya exercises through narrative pairs suggestively with his racial identity in a colonial / post-colonial context. This in turn emphasizes the role which willing and unwilling migrations have on the self as constructed by personal verbal and non-verbal Gothic narrative. This paper will explore the implications that such a specifically narrative-focused and socio-culturally potent identity has on larger readings of Gothic ‘migrations’.
Name: William Hughes
Institution: Bath Spa University, Bath
Abstract: “‘A God-forsaken hole’: War Work, Labour Migration, and the Industrial Gothic of L. T. C. Rolt”
The ghost stories of the British transport historian L. T. C. Rolt (1910-74) have been unjustly neglected by modern Gothic criticism. A twentieth-century pioneer in a recension of the genre that is now known as Tourist Gothic, Rolt characteristically locates his narratives in those less-populated yet still familiar landscapes of the British regions – in isolated Welsh valleys, Irish lake-islands, the rocky Cornish coast or the Shropshire borderlands. His middle-class, educated and competent protagonists – engineers, entrepreneurs, boatmen, racing drivers – are scripted for the most part as travellers to such places. The uncanny nature of what they discover during their sojourn in the British regions imbricates ghostliness not merely with landscape but also with the twentieth-century technology of railways, motor vehicles and telephones which accompany these travellers to a denouement which may be, variously, profoundly life-changing or fatal.
Rolt’s ‘Hawley Bank Foundry’ (1948) is a wartime narrative which describes the wholesale migration of a Birmingham steel works – in the form of personnel, management and technology – to a derelict foundry in the Shropshire countryside. The foundry, a Victorian institution rendered redundant through its retention of outmoded technology and almost feudal employment practices, is recommissioned in 1941 in order to complete vital war work – only to be abandoned some five months later. The fatal accident that motivates the hasty abandonment of the foundry is accompanied by supernatural manifestations, the witnessing of which prompts the mental collapse of the two practical Birmingham men, the foreman and the industrialist, who have overseen this short incursion of the contemporary and the urban into rural Shropshire.
The proposed paper will consider the unique interface of Tourist Gothic and Industrial Gothic that is ‘Hawley Bank Foundry’. It will examine how the migration of labour and technology from Birmingham to Shropshire recalls an earlier attempt to introduce intensive industrial practices and uncongenial labour relations to the fictional foundry – changes which led not merely to workforce unrest but also to embezzlement, murder and suicide. Rolt’s work may well be interpreted as a critique of modern industrial relations, and an insight into the nature of employment and patronage in a heavy industrial environment struggling to redefine itself as the golden age of Victorian entrepreneurship retreats into an almost mythical past. It also, however, implicates advanced technology with subversive and primeval force: a force stronger than wartime fire or steel, and equally fatal to both body and mind.
Name: Leanne Page Hui
Institution: Department of English and Film Studies
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Abstract: “Uncanny ThingSpace: Genius Loci and Collins’s The Haunted Hotel (1878)”
The titular edifice of Wilkie Collins’s The Haunted Hotel is more than simply a setting: it is the nexus of the story. An ancient Venetian villa later renovated by English speculators into a modern hotel, this space represents both the supposed safety of the modern English domestic sphere and the monstrous horrors of Italy’s gothic past. The genius loci of this place, brought into being by a murder which takes place before the novel begins, has a mesmeric influence on the characters, repeatedly compelling them to undergo a kind of gothic migration from England to Venice, and finally forcing them to embody a past crime like symptoms of a disease.
My paper will engage in a thing theory based topoanalyis of The Haunted Hotel. Bill Brown’s conception of thing theory (A Sense of Things, 2003, and “Thing Theory,” 2004) posits that objects become things when they cease to function in their expected or desired capacities and begin to take on the characteristics of subjects. His methodology has been used to examine the material culture of Victorian literature, but not its fictional spaces. I will argue that any specific constructed space can be viewed as a discreet object, which has the potential to become an uncanny quasi-subject, a thing. In Collins’s novel, it is an evil genius loci that enables the Haunted Hotel to migrate from mere narrative object to subjective thingspace.
Name: Kelly Hurley
Institution: University of Colorado at Boulder US
Abstract: “Infernal Mechanism: Conversion Hysteria in David Cronen”
In Studies on Hysteria (1895), Breuer and Freud describe conversion hysteria, “the transformation of psychical excitation into chronic somatic symptoms,” as an obstruction and rerouting of psychic energies. A traumatic or otherwise intolerable idea or memory is blocked from conscious knowledge but nonetheless seeks release and expression, its “strangulated affect” breaking free and surging through other, unexpected channels, finally to manifest itself in “contractures, paralyses, ... convulsions,” and other bodily symptoms. Conversion hysteria, we might say, borrowing the term from Cronenberg’s 1979 film The Brood, is psychoplasmic: it transmutes an immaterial idea into the material substance of the body’s agonies.
The Brood features a charismatic therapist who practices a new technique, “psychoplasmics,” on his patients. Dr. Raglan’s is a radical version of the “talking cure” that the Studies proposes, whereby the strangulated affect of the hysteric “find[s] a way out through speech” rather than becoming hypostatized in bodily symptoms. “Go all the way through it to the end,” Raglan urges his patients as they talk through their traumatic memories. However, “the end,” for Raglan, also includes precisely those hysterical bodily symptoms that the talking cure was supposed to eliminate: the body, too is encouraged to speak, in what Raglan (wrongly, of course) imagines will effect a more thoroughgoing version of therapeutic abreaction. Hysterical patients’ bodies break into rashes, form tumors, and even give birth to monstrous entities. The strangulated affect, once expressed, does not dissipate in cathartic fashion. It prolongs itself; it becomes aggravated, palpable; it gains motility.
Name: Enrique Ajuria Ibarra (panel chair)
Institution: Universidad de las Américas Puebla, Mexico
Abstract: “Mexican Gothic? Uncanny Intertextualities in the films of Carlos Enrique Taboada”
Mexican director Carlos Enrique Taboada is mainly known for his films Hasta el viento tiene miedo (1968), El libro de piedra (1969), Más negro que la noche (1975) and Veneno para las hadas (1984). Taboada consistently demonstrates an accomplished knowledge of cinematic horror to present chilling, supernatural narratives. But instead of being straightforward filmic adaptations of classic Gothic texts, Taboada’s works resemble spectral emulations of well-known fictional hauntings. Such is the case of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat” and Más negro que la noche, or Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw and El libro de piedra. Taboada suitably adjusts arguments and offers different plot twists in order to address issues of class and gender by means of fantasy and the uncanny, common features of Anglo-American Gothic fiction that are transported to more localised settings and situations.
Taboada’s gothic approach differs from that of classic Mexican horror cinema or from popular hero El Santo films. Despite evident Gothic incorporations, his films are not examples of what could be termed Mexican Gothic; on the contrary, the cinema of Carlos Enrique Taboada is characterised by a style that responds to more global aspirations, which is reminiscent of Gothic’s constant tendency for intertextuality and hybridization. The purpose of this paper is to explore and question Taboada’s Mexican Gothic, to determine its cultural pertinence in Mexico and to evidence its anticipation of the contemporary, global Gothic flow.
Name: Sarah Ilott
Institution: Teesside University UK
Abstract: “Gothic Immigrations: Dover Gothic and the Borders of Britishness”
Dover has a long history of embodying Britain’s contested national borders. The white cliffs are symbolically featured as a ‘battlement crown’ in William Wordsworth sonnet ‘At Dover’, as emblematic of ‘Albion’s earliest beauties’ in Lord Byron’s satirical Don Juan, and as representative of the hope associated with homecoming and the return of peace in Vera Lynn’s nostalgic wartime anthem. Yet in postcolonial Britain, the symbolic resonance of the ‘white cliffs’ takes on a racialized dimension as an increasing anti-immigration rhetoric once again takes hold of British politics.
This paper argues that Caryl Phillips’ A Distant Shore and Helen Oyeyemi’s White is for Witching exploit their Dover settings to reflect a broader cultural malaise associated with xenophobic fears of a threat to the national body politic in terms of intrusion of the racial Other, as Dover synechdocically comes to represent Britain at large. Both novels draw on the gothic as a genre suited to experiences of trauma, madness and alienation, as fears of foreign invasion play out in motifs of bodily abjection, disordered consumption and mental breakdown. Reflecting Matthew Arnold’s ‘Dover Beach’, these novels allow feelings of liminality and uncertainty to play out. Rather than closing down or moving beyond the fears and tensions that riddle contemporary national(ist) politics, Dover gothic gives voice to and even parodies those fears, but does not imagine that it can dissolve them through the process of writing.
Name: Camille Isaacs
Institution: OCAD University, Ontario Canada
Abstract: “The New Canadian Gothic: Canada as Monster in Rawi Hage’s Cockroach”
In his novel Cockroach, Rawi Hage reconceptualizes the Gothic genre as it has traditionally been applied to Canadian literature. Rather than the foreigner terrorizing a settled population, the true monstrosity is shown in Canada’s treatment of those deemed “other.” As a refugee in a “host” country, what the narrator desires most is a kind of hospitality. Instead, what he is offered is governmental and institutional asylum, which merely provides tolerance. And as Sianne Ngai argues, this tolerance masks a thinly veiled disgust. He raises “ugly, noncathartic feelings” (Ngai) that seemingly provide no way for Canada to show its benevolence through social welfare or therapeutic intervention. And the disgust that his behaviour engenders makes Canadians uncomfortable with the other side of the “disgusting” coin: the desire for the “fuckable, exotic, dangerous foreigner” (Hage). For if we are drawn to this dangerous, disgusting, monstrous individual, what then does that make us?
The steps taken, however, to ensure sexual immigrant containment raise questions about Canada’s complicity in the mistreatment of vulnerable populations. Allowing disagreeable and traumatized immigrants to languish in cockroach-infested apartments, starving on welfare, and paying lip service to the PTSD from which they suffer turns the tables on monstrosity. Despite the seeming similarity between Cockroach and other Gothic tales, Hage has created a text where the monster is much more insidious, precisely because of its supposed benevolence. In Hage’s new Canadian Gothic, he presents a monster-state, which thereby projects these characteristics onto the immigrants who come to its shores.
Name: Derek Johnston
Institution: Queen's University, Belfast
Abstract: “Migrating M.R.James’ Christmas Ghost Stories to Television”
Each Christmas during his tenure as Provost of King’s College, Cambridge, M.R.James would take part in a ritual celebration of Christmas with students and colleagues which invariably culminated with the reading of a ghost story. This tradition drew on a long tradition of telling ghost stories at Christmas that can be traced back through the likes of Henry James, Dickens and Washington Irving, to the ‘winter’s tales’ of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and probably beyond. With the development of broadcast media, these traditions were adapted for for radio and television, including adaptations of M.R.James’ stories. This paper will examine the BBC’s adaptations of M.R.James stories for Christmas, primarily in the 1970s set known collectively as 'A Ghost Story for Christmas', along with the later adaptations in the 200s. It will focus primarily on the process of adaptation in the context of the wider adaptation of the traditions of Christmas in television broadcasting. In particular, the paper will consider the importance of nostalgic attachment to the past, particularly a Victorian / Edwardian ideal of Christmas past, and the role of the Christmas ghost story in undercutting the potential sentimentality of that attachment, and how that aspect was retained for the 1970s adaptations, but lost in the attempted revivals of the strand in the 2000s due to cultural shifts generally and within broadcasting. Where once they revealed horrific connections to the past, the adaptations are now nostalgic for the comfortable horrors of past Christmases.
Name: Timothy Jones
Institution: Victoria University of Wellington
Abstract: “Absent Ones: Wayfaring and Gothic Celebration in Hawthorne’s Tales”
As often as Hawthorne describes fixed sites of ancestral guilt, his tales – ‘My Kinsman, Major Molineux’, ‘Roger Malvin’s Burial’, ‘Young Goodman Brown’, ‘Ethan Brand’ and others – persistently offer the figure of the questing, wandering outsider, a man who moves ghost-like, between presence and absence. These men potentially haunt the communities they return to, yet are apparently haunted by the people and communities they have abandoned; place and people become spectral and inescapable for them. Their journeys tend to effect Gothic transformations that reify their outcast status as permanent, and question their agency as individuals; and at the point of their arrival or return, they become involved in perverse, unsettling acts of merriment, mockery or celebration.
These stories might be read as describing the fraught processes of a nation constituting itself. However, as these wanderers fail to wholly arrive or return and are made sport of, Hawthorne demands the investment of readerly sympathies in the outsider. This encourages readers to slip into a state of unworldly unbelonging, mirroring the un-homed position of the wayfarers, or of Hawthorne’s Wakefield, who finds himself an ‘Outcast of the Universe’. This unsettles any national or progressive project which might be detected in Hawthorne, and reading itself becomes an act of interpretive and affective wandering; readers might travel towards or away from commitments to mimetic ‘truth’ or, contrarily, Romance; between irony and sympathy; from sentimental sorrow to a celebration of the weird.
Name: Neal Kirk
Institution: Lancaster University
Abstract: “Proxies of Slender: Networked Spectrality and Slender Man”
In 2014, two youths stabbed and left their friend for dead to prove the existence and become “proxies” of the Internet horror-meme, Slender Man. A teenager, who set fire to her house while her family slept inside, admitted to reading and writing stories for websites associated with Slender Man. The reporting Sheriff said, “there are things on the internet that are disturbing, that are causing kids to lose a sense of reality.”
Recent scholarship has explored the storytelling and myth-making qualities surrounding Slender Man’s origins and development (Boyer, 2013), and fears of anonymity and contemporary powerlessness he might represent (Chess, 2014). In an effort to consider Slender Man as a product of the Internet and digital culture this paper utilizes my theory of Networked Spectrality. Networked spectrality theorizes the bridge between fictitious representations of technology, and contemporary social use and experience, as they encounter themes of death and haunting. Networked spectrality is derived from film and television depictions of social anxieties surrounding the Internet expressed as instances of the paranormal (Pulse 2006, Black Mirror 2011-present). It considers the ‘persistence, replicability, scalability, and searchability’ affordances of the Internet (boyd, 2010), and the developmental, technical, social, political, and legal factors of contemporary digital networks relevant to Slender Man.
Slender Man has arguably moved from deliberately fictitious representations to real instances of networked spectrality. How far does the network of Slender’s spectral tentacles reach? What if, what is so seductive about Slender Man is his intimate relationship with the Internet and new media technologies?
Name: Jeaneen Kish
Institution: Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Abstract: “Joanna Baillie’s Orra and Female Madness”
When one thinks about the Gothic genre, one usually thinks about the famous novels, such as The Monk, The Mysteries of Udolpho, and Frankenstein, to Name a few. The Gothic, however, did not just stay focused on the novel but migrated to the stage, where it not only used the tropes common to the novel, but it developed some of those tropes in its own way. One trope in particular that was used on the Gothic stage is the figure of the mad character. By exploring the use of madness in Joanna Baillie’s Orra, we can begin to understand how the performance of madness, female madness in particular, shows us what the society believed about the female mind and its need for a rational education. We are used to images of the insane female being locked up, whether in an asylum or even an attic. In Orra, however, we are given a glimpse of the forces that worked on her to cause her insanity. Exploring the difference of this representation through the work of critics like Paula R. Backscheider, Jeffery N. Cox, and Diane Long Hoeveler, will help us then to further enrich our understanding of how and why Orra becomes mad and the significance of her descent into madness.
Name: Chris Koenig-Woodyard
Institution: University of Toronto Mississauga
Abstract: “Predation and the Posthuman Vampire in Richard Matheson’s I am Legend”
In the history of gothic literature, Richard Matheson’s I am Legend (1954) stands as a tension-filled exploration of the posthuman vampire. Indeed, the novella stands as one of the first posthuman vampire narratives and paves the way for subsequent texts, movies and TV shows that probe the dynamics of human-vampire relationships: Stephen King’s small town study in Salem’s Lot (1975), Anne Rice’s ethically brooding Louis in Interview with the Vampire (1976), Charlain Harris’ emotionally swampy 13-volume Southern Vampire Mysteries (2001-13) and its TV progeny True Blood (2008-2014), John Lindqvist’s portrait of two Swedish teenagers (one vampire—one human) in Let the Right One In (2004), and Justin Cronin’s dystopian vampire epic of a near-future America in The Passage (2010) and The Twelve (2012), among others.
Rooted in the conglomerate generic framework of the gothic and science fiction, I am Legend follows Robert Neville’s four-year vampire-slaying mission against the vampires spawned by a mysterious pandemic that has decimated the human population. Matheson presents a human who teeters on the threshold of the human and post-human. In I am Legend, a significant part of the horror is derived from the friction that exists between Neville’s seemingly domestic nocturnal life—safe in his fortress-like home when the vampires emerge—and his diurnal life in which he technologically and scientifically refines his vampire-killing techniques. Such efforts reveal a Malthusian murderous streak that increasingly threatens the posthuman vampiric: Neville is engaged in a vampire genocide as he works his way systematically through the central boroughs and inner-cities of Los Angeles. Moreover, Matheson indicates a keen awareness of the demographic narrative arc between the human and gothic (and posthuman) as Neville marvels at the “fantastic rapidity of the plague, the geometrical mounting of victims” (82). In I am Legend, Matheson offers a demographically and sexualized recasting of the vampire as Neville, I argue, kills tens of thousands of vampires across a four-year period—including a significant percentage of vampire women and children.
Name: Zofia Kolbuszewska
Institution: John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin
Abstract: “From a Gothic Text to a Neobaroque Cinema: Wojciech Jerzy Has’s Adaptation of James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner”
The paper discusses a complex travel of a Gothic text—James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824)—from Scottish Romanticism to a neobaroque screen adaptation, Osobisty pamiętnik grzesznika przez niego samego spisany [The Private Memoir of a Justified Sinner] (1986) by an outstanding Polish filmmaker Wojciech Jerzy Has (1925-2000). Trained originally as a painter, Wojciech Jerzy Has was a filmmaker of particular visual sensitivity, who had made self-reflexive poetic films luxuriating in baroque and surrealist visual overabundance since late 1950s. However, only recently have the director’s films witnessed a surge of broader popularity due to his films’ appeal to contemporary sensibility thriving at the cusp of the neobaroque and gothic aesthetics. Cinema cognoscenti recognize Wojciech Jerzy Has as the director of the esoteric, black and white, Saragossa Manuscript [Rękopis znaleziony w Saragossie] (1965) and the color adaptation of Bruno Schulz’s short stories The Hourglass Sanatorium [Sanatorium pod klepsydrą] (1973).
Through employing neobaroque aesthetical strategy in the film, the Polish filmmaker investigates what in discussing James Hogg’s Gothic novel Susan Manning refers to as “the paradox of the puritan-provincial mind,” which, paradoxically, knows it cannot know the hidden truth of the “centre,” but is compelled to strive for knowledge. Yet, by splicing in passages from William Blake and from the Book of Revelation in the film, Wojciech Jerzy Has clearly invests the quandaries of the local/provincial Gothic identity with transhistorical and transcultural significance. Interestingly, seen as always disavowing direct political engagement, the Polish filmmaker uses Hogg’s metafictional representation of an attempt by a religious fanatic to expunge evil from the world, which leads to an internecine struggle, murder of his brother, the annihilation of the family and his own fall, as a veiled comment on the destructive power of purges aimed at erasing difference in all its dimensions ranging from political through aesthetical to ethical. However, in the context of destructive political divisions and an anxious and uneasy observation of the degeneration of a political paradigm in Poland in mid 1980s, the choice of the subject matter is hardly innocent.
By means of neobaroque cinematic devices and strategies Wojciech Jerzy Has renders inscrutable Gothic appearances both tormenting and fascinating. While the poetics of neobaroque cinema evinces the fact that the center of significance seems always veiled by the surfaces of nature and of semiotic systems, by employing Gothic doubling and projecting exteriority onto interiority as well as reflecting interiority in exteriority, the director figures the uncanny anxiety of the protagonist, Robert Wringhim. By visual means the filmmaker brings out the tension between radical, yet destructive, innocence and the will to know. As both the protagonist and narrator Wringhim desires to gain knowledge without losing innocence, which in a fallen world is impossible; the result is that his perception divides, the one half capitulating to the sensuality of the “experience” of the centre with its connotations of degeneracy and decadence, the other half standing aloof to maintain its radical innocence. Division within the self reproduces the doubling without: confrontation becomes self-confrontation, pursuit becomes soul-searching.
Critical of the Romantic vision of Polish history constructed around the tension between oppression and rebellion, the director employs cinematic effects in order to convey the blurring and momentary disappearance of the distinction between the pure self and the absolute evil. The neobaroque adaptation of Hogg’s Gothic text is an attempt to imagine transcending a binary pattern of oppression and rebellion, dominance and submission as the only conceivable form of relationship.
Name: Kaley Kramer
Institution: York St John University UK
Abstract: “The land God gave to Cain: Canadian Gothic and the British Imagination”
From Samuel Herne (1795) to John Franklin (1823), explorers’ accounts of the north in the Romantic period provided new landscapes for the Gothic imagination in a space that was British by colonial conquest but remained strange. In Charlotte Smith’s The Old Manor House (1794) an odd narrative excursion takes place: the hero, Orlando, a soldier in the defeated British army in America, ‘crosses the Hudson river’ and is taken prisoner by a group of Iroquois. Gothic literature since Walpole tended to be set to the south, east, and past of England. For Smith to send her hero to the north, east, and present relocates the Gothic outside of its own traditions. Orlando’s time in North America renders him differently ‘Gothic’ upon his return: he becomes, as Jacqueline Labbe suggests, ‘strange…uncanny, and his personality…unstable’.
Smith’s detour gives us a hint of Canada’s role as a ‘Gothic’ space. On the border between Canada and America, Orlando looks north and sees, in the ‘red and lurid…atmosphere’, an apparition of cypress trees as ‘groups of supernatural beings in funereal habits’. In the absence of manor houses, the Canadian Gothic is a rootless and mobile concept, emerging from the landscape itself. This paper will explore the representation of Canada at the turn of the century, as a space that could ‘Gothicize’ travellers in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Name: Laura Kremmel
Institution: Lehigh University
Abstract: “The Devil’s Cure Treating Disability with Anatomical Migration in The Three Brothers”
Though obscure, Pickersgill’s 1803 Gothic novel, The Three Brothers, captured the interest of central Romantic figures, such as Lord Byron and Matthew Lewis, for its imaginative treatment of a disabled body: the character Arnaud, suffering social and legal persecution for his deformity, finds the cure for his condition not in medicine but in the Gothic. Making a pact with the devil, he swaps an injured, natural body for a perfect, supernatural one, becoming a villain. The novel draws upon Gothic tropes and themes to devise systemic transplantation—an anatomical migration or resettlement—as cure for bodily disfigurement. Pickersgill’s text offers an imaginative space for the Gothic to interact with a medical conundrum and provide its own remedy, turning a lost cause into a powerful figure.
In this essay, I place The Three Brothers in the historical context of Romantic-Era disability and Giorgio Agamben’s biopolitical theory of homo sacer, a form of banishment from society in which the subject becomes inhuman. I argue that the novel’s incorporation of the Gothic tradition extends treatment of the deformed body beyond the limits of medical science and biopolitical understanding, creating a space in which the mysteries of the natural world bleed into the supernatural one. Abandoning his “home” body, Arnaud escapes from one type of monster to another, haunted by a multiplicity of self and anxieties about bodily stability that prevent him from ever truly possessing a home or a body again.
Name: Joseph LaBine
Institution: University of Windsor
Abstract: “An Béal Bocht and Gaelic Gothic Parody: Reading Harry Clarke’s panels in Myles na gCopaleen’s ‘sham Gothic’”
Can the Gothic be Gaelic…did it ever go to the West of Ireland? Myles na gCopaleen thought so, and he stole the Gothic for the Gaels after Patrick Pearse explicitly told him not to. In 1906, Pearse wrote: “we want no Gothic revival. We would have the problems of today fearlessly dealt with in Irish” (7); but this exclusion of the Gothic feels contradictory, given that Pearse envisioned a mode of 20th century Irish literature that could “freely borrow…every modern form which it does not possess and which it is capable of assimilating, but also texture, tone and outlook” (Pearse 6). The paradox is widened by the transitional legacy of the Celtic Gothic; what Carol Margaret Davison identifies in Hogg’s Confessions as “critically self-reflexive treatment of the ‘national’” which informs the “Gothicization of a savage and superstitious Celtic Periphery” (Davison 189). Of Irish novels affecting Gothicization, few critics have approached novels written in Gaelic, and particularly Myles na gCopaleen’s Gaelic parody of the Irish language revival, An Béal Bocht (1941). Siobhán Kilfeather notes the tendency in Irish Gothic works after 1800, to embody “unsettling histories” and employ methods “fracturing temporality” (56); but these are defining tropes in An Béal Bocht, and na gCopaleen’s novel must be read in a transitional Gothic mode, what he referred to elsewhere as the ‘sham Gothic’: “none of your modern bright and cavernous edifices in the style of the ‘sham-barn’ as an irreverent…new Dublin suburban church” (qtd. in Allen 55).
My presentation at the 2013 IGA focused on the visual Gothic by exploring oppositional expressions of realism and the grotesque in amateur medical photographs and Victorian freak ephemera. With Gothic visuals in mind, my proposed essay for the 2015 IGA Gothic Migrations Conference in Vancouver will consider how grotesque aspects of the comic novel are Gothic, along with Irish gothic assimilation, and the migration of the Gothic into Gaelic seen in An Béal Bocht. John McCloskey’s recent adaptation of the work as a graphic novel provides a visual-key to unlocking Gaelic Gothicism. Stained-glass maker Harry Clarke’s Nightmares in Decay (1918; 1923), and his “Geneva Window,” like na gCopaleen’s satire, indicate that Irish literary parody not only has Gothic origins and trans-Atlantic / diasporic tendencies, it falls within a Gothic aesthetic found to be at “generally oppositional drives” (Davison 221). These migratory Gothic works of assimilation are nationalistic, Gaelic, and liminal.
Name: Fanny Lacôte
Institution: Université de Lorraine (France) - University of Stirling (Scotland)
Abstract: “English Gothic served “à la française”: French forgeries of Ann Radcliffe”
Almost thirty years separate the French translations of Ann Radcliffe’s The Italian (1797) and Gaston de Blondeville (1826); for readers in France, this constituted a gap that had to be filled through the powers of imitation and forgery.
Though political relations between the two nations were troubled, literary exchanges between France and England, as Angela Wright has pointed out, never ceased; in France, the roman noir was set for a certain flourishing as libraries advertised, among reprints and new translations of Radcliffe’s works, self-professed French imitations of the “Mistress of Udolpho,” such as Barbarinski, ou les Brigands du château de Wissegrade (1818) by the countess du Nardouet. Similarly, several texts claimed to be translations of unpublished works from Radcliffe’s oeuvre, such as L’Hermite de la Tombe mystérieuse (1816) by the baron de Lamothe-Langon, and Le Couvent de Sainte Catherine (1810) by the baroness Auffdiener, both of whom claimed to have been acquainted with the “Great Enchantress”.
As this paper will argue, Ann Radcliffe’s Name, in itself enough to guarantee good sales, became the means by which a number of aristocrats earned their living after the French Revolution, turning to translations, imitations and forgeries of the writer’s characteristic Gothic mode. Publishing under the Name of Ann Radcliffe in France not only served as a means of concealment for writers who did not wish their own Names to be directly associated with the Gothic, but also as a way of addressing topical French political concerns behind a façade of Englishness. By focusing on these imitations and forgeries, this paper will seek to explain how and why Ann Radcliffe’s Name and publishing ‘trademark’ were exploited by her fellow novelists across the Channel. In the process, it will demonstrate the ‘migration’ of a national literary genre into the imagination of another national tradition, a movement that reveals some of the reasons for the Gothic’s success in early nineteenth-century France.
Name: Rod Landis
Institution: University of Alaska Southeast
Abstract: "Framing the Self: Location and Dislocation in Wuthering Heights"
In my paper, “Framing the Self: Location and Dislocation in Wuthering Heights,” I employ theorist Beatriz Colomina’s discourse on the realms of interior and exterior domestic space to demonstrate how features in the houses of Charlotte Bronte’s novel act as ‘viewing mechanisms’ that narratologically frame their ‘spectral subjects’ and reveal uncanny interpretive potentialities. In aligning some of Colomina’s key points with the way the novel orients Cathy to rooms at Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, we begin to see how Cathy is framed in her narrative as a conflicted exhibitionist.
In her commentary on Adolph Loos’ interiors, Colomina writes that the architect “breaks down the condition of the house as object by radically convoluting the relation between inside and outside. One of the devices he uses is mirrors, which appear…to be openings, and openings which can be mistaken for mirrors.” In Wuthering Heights’ twelfth chapter, Cathy confronts her image in a mirror and is chided by Nelly Dean for being frightened at what she sees; it is communicated to the reader that Cathy has mistaken her own face for someone else’s. A close reading of this scene, informed by Colomina’s idea of the ‘theatre box’ (“a device which both provides protection and draws attention to itself”), suggests that what she sees – the face of the story’s narrative voice, Lockwood, occupying Cathy’s bedchamber over twenty years later – allows Cathy to transcend both space and time in a furious effort to retain her place of prominence in the story.
Many Brontean scholars have noted that in Wuthering Heights very few characters travel more than a mile or two between houses, and that the very rootedness of the characters and situations results in a setting permeated by a sort of claustrophobic inertia. I will show that Cathy, through her migratory movement between the world of living and dead, is the disruptive Gothic element that excites the plot, impels the reader forward, and animates a static environment.
Name: Saundra Liggins
Institution: State University of New York at Fredonia
Abstract: “The Gothic Atlantic”
In his text The Black Atlantic, Paul Gilroy examines the culture that was created from the migration of peoples of African descent across and around the Atlantic Ocean. One innovative outcome of this new black Atlantic culture is the publishing of Caribbean novels that were inspired by, and spoke back to, European Gothic literature.
The circulation of Gothic themes and tropes between Europe and the Caribbean is perhaps best represented by Wide Sargasso Sea, Dominican author Jean Rhys’ prequel to Charlotte Brontё’s Jane Eyre. In it, Rhys illuminates the history of Bertha Mason, Brontё’s Creole “madwoman in the attic.” Another Brontё novel, this time Emily Brontё’s Wuthering Heights, was also the source of a Gothic (re-)writing. Windward Heights, by the Guadeloupean author Maryse Condé, is set in Cuba and Guadeloupe and focuses on Razyé, a black man who had fallen in love with Cathy, the mulatto daughter of the man who had taken him in when he was a child. Once an adult, and rejected by Cathy, Razyé begins an elaborate plan of revenge. Alongside the depiction of the campaign that Razyé wages, Condé also reveals the class, ethnic, and racial battles that were being fought in the post-emancipation society of the Caribbean.
Maryse Condé’s Windward Heights illustrates the mobility and adaptability of Gothic conventions to different cultural and national contexts. When these elements flow between nations, readers get a more diverse, a more international and multicultural, sense of not just the genre, but the world at large.
Name: Stuart Lindsay
Institution: University of Stirling UK
Abstract: “Abject Migrations of the Neurological and the Nuclear: The Monster of Radiation in David Thorpe’s Illustrated Novella Doc Chaos: The Chernobyl Effect”
As the example of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818; 1831) so clearly attests, monsters have, throughout history, been depicted as harbingers and embodiments of human catastrophes. To this end, David Thorpe’s illustrated novella, Doc Chaos: The Chernobyl Effect (1988), set between the years of 1950 and 1986, is a terrifying yet darkly comic warning against the blasé, global development of nuclear power-generating technology. The eponymous anti-hero of the novella, Doctor Unknown Chaos, personifies the process of nuclear reactions that occur within the reactor cores of the world’s proliferating nuclear power stations, and which occasionally break free from the constraints of safety protocols, to catastrophic effect. As a monstrous embodiment of the fears and threat of atomic disaster, the figure of Doc Chaos, like previous Gothic monsters born from the human tampering of the natural world’s matter, forces us to confront the potential results of our hubris: could we live in a world irreversibly changed by nuclear catastrophe? Through recourse to Judith Butler’s account of corporeality in Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex (1993), this paper will analyse two nightmarish implications of Doc Chaos’s abject experiments. Firstly, the transplantation of one human’s brain into the body of another human as a trial run for the continual shifting of consciousness, a movement or ‘migration’ of consciousness from bodies burnt out by the corroding conditions of an inevitable global nuclear catastrophe into clean, as-yet unaffected bodies. (Such a catastrophe is inevitable, Doc Chaos claims, because humanity insists on further harnessing nuclear power despite not being able to fully control it.) The second terrifying implication to be explored is the deliverance of consciousness to the atomic level of reality, entirely free from the confines of the body. In this sense, this paper will argue that the onset of the nuclear age, exemplified by the novella’s presentation of a hypothetical yet not entirely impossible scenario of global nuclear catastrophe, prompts, in Butler’s phrasing, ‘a radical rearticulation of what qualifies as bodies that matter, ways of living that count as “life”, lives worth protecting, lives worth saving, lives worth grieving’.1Additionally, in this fundamental transformation of the environment, the paper will raise the question of whether or not ‘bodies come to matter at all’.
1 & 2 Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex, (New York: Routledge, 1993), p.16
Name: Agnieszka Łowczanin
Institution: University of Łódź
Abstract: “’I dedicate this work to the care of the dismal spirit of Anna de Radklif”: Polish Gothicism at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries.”
[…] Mesdames de Lafayette, de Riccoboni and a great number of authoresses and authors, the delight and diversion of their times […] are worthy of everlasting remembrance; they now are… am I to reveal the truth? Utterly boring. If our mothers were easily moved by the lots of Clarissa, Pamela, etc, the exhausted feelings of our generation need more violent emotion. Dreadful spectres, visitors from the otherworld, tempests, earthquakes, ruins of ancient castles inhabited only by ghosts, packs of bandits armed with daggers and the traitor’s poison, murder, prisons, and eventually, devils and witches – when all this is found together, only then do we have a romance fit for the taste of our era.”
Anna Mostowska, née Radziwiłł, 1806
The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the study of 18th-century European exchanges in the Gothic by examining the critically unexplored territory of Polish Gothicism of that time. Expansion, translation, transformation and appropriation were intrinsic features of this genre from its very beginning. The spread of Gothic fiction and the popularisation of its themes and motifs were possible in Poland not only because of numerous translations, but also because many of Poland’s literati came from or were connected with an educated, erudite, cosmopolitan and often aristocratic elite who read Gothic stories in their original English or in French translation. In a largely Francophile Poland at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries – and going against the ideological grain that certain English texts reveal about an anti-cosmopolitan and anti-aristocratic imperative that contributed to forging English nationalism – some members of the Polish aristocracy assisted in the formation of highly influential literary circles, which, like the French salons, in turn helped mould intellectual exchange into literary forms. In this article I will focus on two writers, each the other’s contemporary: Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823), and Anna Mostowska, née Radziwiłł (1762-1811), a pioneer of Polish Gothicism. Although there appears to be more that separates than unites them – their different social background and literary heritages, the contrasting political situation of their homelands (the UK strengthening its position as a global empire after the Seven Year’s War while Poland faced gradual effacement from the map of Europe during the three partitions in the last decades of the 18th century) – a comparative study of certain shared motifs, tropes and themes gives us a fascinating insight into the political and cultural climates of the two geographically distant countries, and helps us to understand contenting notions of female publicity at the turn of the centuries.
Name: Mary Luckhurst
Institution: University of Melbourne Australia
Abstract: “Ghost Tours: Remappings of Trauma”
In the twenty-first century, ghost tours have become a lucrative part of the rise of Gothic tourism. In the last decade the cultural heritage agenda in the UK has fed the proliferation of the ghost tour, which is a common feature of heritage city tours (such as London and Edinburgh, Glasgow), the country house tour, and theatrical heritage tours. Ghost tour discourses share certain tropes connected with trauma narratives, especially some sort of spiritual or emotional agony or untimely or traumatic death. In the UK the most commercially successful ghost tours take place in urban spaces such as the Jack the Ripper tours in the East End of London or the West End theatre tours; in Australia and America, ghost tours resonate in remote landscapes and are often connected with European colonialism. This paper examines the remapping of the ghost tour in Australia and the adaptation of ghost narratives to gold mines, quarantine stations, and penal settlements . The paper emerges from research begun in my book Theatre and Ghosts: Materiality, Performance and Modernity (Palgrave 2014).
Name: Alexandra Lykissas
Institution: Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Abstract: “Gothic Passions – Then and Now: A post-9/11 examination of the Gothic in the TV show Supernatural”
Why has gothic fiction and adaptations of these stories become so popular in the last 15-20 years? By examining the much-contested origins of gothic from the British Romantic era and showing how the Gothic of that time reacted against societal norms and pressures, while also reacting to the abrupt and catastrophic effects of the French Revolution, I will connect these origin stories with modern adaptations. I will provide an initial framework on which to build my argument where I will examine how Gothic fiction showed the consequences of not regulating one’s passions. This is clearly shown in stories like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Modern adaptations, particularly in the past 15 years particularly, have repurposed the gothic tradition to react to this American generation’s most horrific event – 9/11. No longer are the stories about regulating one’s passions and reacting to the French Revolution; these stories are now reacting to 9/11 and reinforcing societal expectations as a way to rebuild the country. In television shows, like Supernatural, one can see how the Gothic has been used to reinforce the masculine traits of the two main characters, calling into question why this needs to be done. I will argue that after 9/11 there was a reinforcement of traditional gender roles where men were the rescuers and women the victims (or grieving widows). These types of characters show society how people should act. Our modern Gothic is not simply telling us what we shouldn’t do; now, we are shown exactly what we need to do.
Name: Irmgard Maassen
Institution: University of Bremen (Germany)
Abstract: “Dis-/Remembering the Raj – Migrations of Colonial Guilt”
My paper is going to investigate the motif of the dismembered hand in its iterations through three stories of the imperial gothic. It takes as its starting point Kipling’s autobiography, with its memory of his Bombay childhood as a paradise overshadowed by the adjacent ‘Towers of Silence’ where the Parsees dispose of their dead. Death and sin invade his Eden when a child’s hand, which must neither be seen nor talked about, is found in the garden. Ghostly or dismembered hands continue to haunt Kipling’s gothic stories, most prominently perhaps in “Beyond the Pale” where cut-off hands, the result of a colonial’s forays into forbidden territory, figure in a complex scenario of displaced desire, violence, and guilt. Dismembered and dislocated hands recur in other colonial tales as well, nudging memories of the Raj, as in Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Brown Hand” (1899) and Patrick McGrath’s postmodern, neo-colonial gothic “The Black Hand of the Raj” (1988). This paper is taking its cue from Brantlinger’s influential definitions of the imperial gothic – as dealing with fears of regression, invasion and inverted journeys of adventure – but is also drawing on Freud to interrogate these stories for their disavowed fascination with power, violence and desire and the transmutations and conflations of imperial and sexual guilt.
Name: Karen Macfarlane
Institution: Mount Saint Vincent University
Abstract: "Going Viral: Zombies, Survivors, Cyberspace"
Zombies are the most corporeal of monsters and zombie narratives generally focus on the unstable bodies of the zombies and on the survival of humanity. So I was surprised and interested to find that a number of novels that focus on a zombie apocalypse use the internet (and in particular blogs, social media and YouTube) as a medium through which their protagonists are able to communicate with other survivors and trade strategies for survival. Instead of a fortified enclave filled with survivors, the characters in these novels are physically isolated even as they are digitally connected. In fact, the internet becomes a space that saves survivors of the initial zombie attacks by allowing them to trade information about survival. The internet — as a place without bodies — is a place safe from the corporeality of the walking dead in these works. This paper considers how novels like Jonathan Maberry’s Night of the Dead and Mira Grant’s Feed can help us to theorize zombies as embodying the horror of the digital in contemporary culture. I argue that, contrary to appearances, zombies can be read as the quintessential monsters of the network age. The visceral fear that the zombie embodies, not simply the physical threat that it poses, lies in its ability to infect, invade and alter indiscriminately and uncontrollably. My argument resists too-easy parallels between zombies and viral content and instead argues that the zombie functions as monsters should: as a sign for the horrors -- the visceral fear, the potential for shock, the physical connection — of the internet in contemporary culture through its terrifying potential for monstrous replication.
Name: Hebe Tocci Marin
Institution: Universidade Estadual Julio de Mesquita Filho (UNESP - Brazil)
Abstract: “American Gods: a clash between modern and ancient generations of gods”
With such an explicit title, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is a novel about the difficulties gods and deities from various antique cultures find as they try to survive and adapt to the life in a modern world – precisely, to life in the new continent, America. Its plot approaches two consequences of the present globalized times on religion. The first consequence pictured is how beliefs brought to America by immigrants survive and struggle to keep existing, that is, how an antique generation of gods and mythical creatures which depend on human faith to feed actually manage through in an era they are not explicitly idolized anymore. The second consequence is the appearing of new gods, gods which derive from the affection humans devote to technological gadgets, fetishes and everything else that makes life more comfortable and is yet so superfluous. That is the background for the creation of gods like Media, Internet and Credit Cards. This paper is part of the author’s thesis for her Master’s in progress and it intends to briefly examine the participation of both divine generations in the book. For doing so, the analysis is based on the works of David Roas, Fred Botting, James A. Herrick, James F. McGrath and Sigmund Freud, among others.
Name: Bridget M. Marshall
Institution: University of Massachusetts Lowell
Abstract: “Migrating Mill Girls: The Circulation of the Gothic in the Mills of Lowell, Massachusetts”
The Lowell Offering was a literary magazine written and edited from 1840 to 1845 by women who worked in the mills of Lowell, Massachusetts. The Offering contains many Gothic-tinged stories such as “A Visit to the Grave-Yard,” and poems such as “My Grave” and “Room for the Dead,” which the speaker claims was inspired by the “superstition, that the dead, though invisible, are ever around us” (276). In addition to writing and reading such dark tales, the mill girls were also reading Gothic novels such as The Castle of Otranto, which they checked out from circulating libraries.
This paper will explore a selection of Gothic pieces from The Lowell Offering and consider the ways the mill girls used the Gothic mode to entertain and also to reveal some of the real-life horrors of their lives as factory workers. The mill girls were a migrant group; they arrived from a wide array of backgrounds from around New England and from across the Atlantic. They worked long hours together during the workday and spent their precious free hours together in factory-owned boarding houses with strict rules. What Gothic traditions did they bring with them and see recycled back through their stories? What new Gothic horrors were they experiencing as they created a new life in a factory town? While the mill girls themselves were circulated in the growing factory economy, they were also instrumental in circulating the Gothic, particularly a developing Industrial Gothic, infused with the terrors of factory life.
Name: Nowell Marshall
Institution: Rider University
Abstract: “The Gothic Redhead in Literature, Film, and Popular Culture”
In The Roots of Desire (2005), Marion Roach notes that redheads experience one of the cultural double binds that racial and ethnic minorities face: they tend to be eroticized or villainized. As part of an ongoing book manuscript about the role of excessive, Gothic whiteness in British and American literature since the 18th century, this paper builds on Roach’s analysis to expand the emerging field of redhead studies by tracing the relationship between redheads and the Gothic in literature, film, and popular media. Combining Freud’s ideas about the uncanny with René Girard’s theories regarding sacrifice and scapegoating from Violence and the Sacred, this paper argues that the redhead has often played a pivotal role in Gothic texts. Examples include Lucy from Stoker’s Dracula, several major and minor characters from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series, Victoria from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, and Marcus from the US adaptation of Being Human. Yet, the trope of the Gothic redhead is so pervasive that it extends beyond literature and film into popular culture. By adopting the moniker “The Great White”—a phrase that immediately recalls the terror of the Jaws film franchise—WWE Superstar Sheamus consciously links his excessive whiteness with monstrosity, moving that whiteness from the realm of natural (lack of) pigmentation to the realm of socially constructed, excessively white monstrosity. The trope of the Gothic redhead is so ingrained in the American psyche that even a decidedly non-Gothic novel like Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City deploys it to create terror. Likewise, writers of color such as Toni Morrison often depend on the figure of the redhead to achieve their Gothic effects. For example, in The Bluest Eye, just before discussing her inherent dislike of culturally fetishized blonde, blue-eyed dolls, Claudia pauses to disparage Raggedy Ann dolls, specifically associating the dolls’ Gothic effects with their pasty whiteness and red hair. This paper develops these threads more fully by analyzing the role of the Gothic redhead in a variety of texts, ranging from Dracula to Star Wars.
Name: Leigh McLennon
Institution: University of Melbourne Australia
Abstract: “Romantic Vampires in the New Millennium: Wastelands and Wanderers in Only Lovers Left Alive”
While numerous reviews of Jim Jarmusch’s 2014 film Only Lovers Left Alive describe his vampires Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) as hipsters, this paper argues that these vampires are in fact Romantics. Jarmusch’s film reframes key thematic concerns of British Romanticism in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century in order to articulate prevalent socio-cultural anxieties of the early twenty-first century. Romantic alarm over industrialisation becomes a millennial alarm over sustainability; the threat of urbanisation in the nineteenth century becomes the threat of de-urbanisation post-Global Financial Crisis; a fascination with the Orientalised Other becomes a fascination with mobility in the age of globalisation. In this sense, the film is concerned with the Gothic disintegration of social limits.
Borrowing self-consciously from both the nineteenth- and twentieth-century history of the vampire, Only Lovers Left Alive is distinctly postmodern in its intertextuality. And yet, far from acceding to the darkness of postmodern uncertainty, its vampires thrive on Romantic sincerity. Rather than condemned and constrained, the excessive passions and feelings of Adam and Eve are celebrated. As immortal wanderers, these vampires continue to search for the fundamentally Romantic values of originality, creativity and truth (which, as always, is beauty). Humour in this film relies on its audience’s postmodern distrust of these Romantic ideals. Ultimately, Jarmusch’s vampires are so attractive not because they thrill with the seductive darkness of Gothic disintegration, but because they tease us with the possibility that we may yet resist this darkness.
Name: Robert Miles
Institution: University of Victoria BC Canada
Abstract: “Charles Brockden Brown: Migration, Globalization, Conspiracy”
Nobody is at home in Charles Brockden Brown. The native-born Americans are always on the move, while the native-Americans are displaced. Everyone, including the natives, are migrants. Brockden Brown’s novels teem with mysterious characters who wander all parts of the known world, including the far east, near east, and, naturally, Europe. They crisscross the Atlantic with casual frequency. Often these alienated wanderers are part or, or are rumoured to belong to, international conspiracies, such as the Bavarian Illuminati. This paper will argue that Charles Brockden should be thought of, as not just a pioneer of American, but also of Modern Gothic. Brown wrote at a time when America’s political culture was in the process of shifting from speech to print, from town hall meetings, lectures, and sermons, to remote institutions mediated by print culture. Brown’s America is everywhere typified by rootlessness and by a society of drifters and wanderers, the displaced and the dispossessed. In these shallow communities the older, speech-centered institutions no longer work, while the print based institutions of a modern public sphere are not yet in place. In this post-Revolutionary moment of rupture and fear, conspiracy theories abound. As such his Gothic world is presciently familiar.
Name: Hildy Miller
Institution: Portland State University
Abstract: ‘“A Boy’s Best Friend is his Mother’: The Migration of Gothic Doubles Norma and Norman Bates”
The film and novel Psycho gave us the enduring Gothic story of Norman Bates, serial killer. Since then it’s been extended in several unsuccessful treatments. However, in 2012 the cable series Bates Motel succeeded; in it the familiar Gothic story migrated simultaneously backwards in time to Norman’s troubled adolescence and forwards to a contemporary Pacific Northwest setting. In the film Psycho we are given a psychoanalytic explanation for Norman’s behavior, gleaned indirectly from Norman himself. His clinging mother apparently traumatized him, which caused him to murder women to whom he was attracted. Norman’s identity is entwined with that of his Gothic twin Norma. In contrast, in Bates Motel, we return to Norman’s adolescence to discover just how Norman unraveled. Norma is a half-sympathetic character, unhealthily attached to her son and a murderer, but also a spunky widow struggling to protect her family. Norman feels ambivalent about her and struggles to wrest free, even as he seems drawn to her. Week after week the audience endures the discomfort of watching these two transgress emotional and sexual boundaries. Their relationship is further complicated by being set in an Oregon town, a kind of Gothic Mayberry where, in Twin Peak’s fashion, all the residents seem to be as crazy as Norma and Norman. As outsiders, they fit right in. My paper will examine the depiction of this relationship in this setting and speculate what this migration backwards and forwards in time illuminates about this compelling story and about Gothic migration in general.
Name: Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet
Institution: University of Lausanne
Abstract: “From the Jim Crow South to the Urban Jungle: African American Gothic and the Great Migration”
This presentation takes the Great Migration, the massive exodus of African Americans from the South to the North in the first decades of the 20th century, as its point of departure for an exploration of African American Gothic. The first part of the talk focuses on the Jim Crow South and specifically the work of Richard Wright, who published Uncle Tom’s Children (1938) two years after the novel Gone With the Wind, but painted a very different portrait of the American South. Instead of white plantations and colorful balls, Wright depicts a dark landscape shaped by fear and moral monstrosity. The collection returns repeatedly to horrific scenes of white violence against African Americans, exposing the brutal reign of terror that enforced Jim Crow up to the 1960s. The second part of the talk will focus on the work of an important heir to Wright’s legacy as godfather of Black Pulp Fiction, Iceberg Slim. Slim is best known for his autobiographical novel Pimp, a portrait of the black urban underworld, but his most complex and interesting work is Mama Black Widow (1969), a novel about an African American transgender “queen.” Structured as a “migration narrative,” it examines a family’s move from Mississippi to Chicago and uses a variety of gothic tropes to demystify the conventional trope of the North as an escape from the terror of the South. Instead it reveals that African Americans were equally trapped on both ends of the Great Migration.
Name: Fernando Monteiro de Barros
Institution: UERJ - Rio de Janeiro State University
Abstract: “The decadent plantation big house as a haunted castle: Brazilian Gothic in Gilberto Freyre’s The masters and the slaves”
The Gothic has migrated not only to countries akin to its British birthplace but also to places as far-off from what one might identify with gloomy landscapes and eerie mists as sunny, solar, tropical Brazil. This paper aims to trace the intertextual presence of the eighteenth-century English gothic novel in the work of Brazilian sociologist Gilberto Freyre, who published The Masters and the Slaves in 1933. In many gothic novels the imagery of tradition appears in a phantasmatic way, with the ruined castle as an allegory of the medieval past overthrown by modernity; likewise, the ruined plantation big houses of Brazil’s imperial and colonial times seem to stand for the country’s tradition supplanted by modernity. In many ways, what we call “Brazilian Gothic” has many elements in common with American “Southern Gothic”, which shows a similar past background of slavery that haunts the present. Taking a theoretical stance based on Walter Benjamin’s concept of allegory, on Giorgio Agamben’s reflections about the phantasmatic, and on Matei Calinescu’s definition of decadence as part of modernity, this study focuses on a literary construct of “brazilianness” that derives from both a sociological point of view (Freyre’s) and a literary European tradition (the Gothic), which, in its hybridity, marks other migrations of Gothic far beyond the realm of fantastic literature.
Name: Jason Baumann Montilla
Institution: The Graduate Center, CUNY
Abstract: “’Yo Dejo mi Hueso Allá’: Gothic Strategies in Contemporary Puerto Rican Narratives of Migration”
Judith Ortiz Cofer’s novel The Meaning of Consuelo and Lyn Di Iorio’s Under the Bones both utilize Gothic conventions, as well as African Diasporic religious beliefs, in order to translate the political, emotional, and spiritual undercurrents of Puerto Rican migration to the United States. Ortiz Cofer’s The Meaning of Consuelo charts the migration of the title character Consuelo as she tries to escape a suffocating childhood in Puerto Rico for a life in New York. Puerto Rico is framed as a Gothic enclosure, haunted by colonialism, poverty, prejudice, and violence. Consuelo’s flight is mirrored uncannily by the disappearance of her sister Lili into the madness of schizophrenia. Lyn Di Iorio’s Under the Bones uses the narrator Fina’s initiation into Palo Mayombe, an Afro-Cuban creole religion that combines Kongo religious beliefs with necromantic sorcery, as an overarching metaphor for the ways that Puerto Ricans in the diaspora continue to be scarred by political and personal tragedies at home. Fina, who is a Puerto Rican living in New York City, both figuratively and literally reinters her family bones in the earth of her new home in the United States. The Gothic strategies in both novels are a way to represent the shame that Puerto Ricans experience as neocolonial subjects, as analyzed by Frances Negrón Muntaner, as well as negotiate the “unhomely” character of Puerto Rico given its colonial “associated” relationship with the United States.
Name: Sascha Morrell
Institution: University of New England, Australia
Abstract: 'Corpses without borders: Dickens’s Australia, Faulkner’s Caribbean and the itinerant undead'
This paper examines how undead figures associated with southern spaces invade the domestic sphere as embodiments of repressed race, class and imperial anxieties in Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations (1860) and William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! (1936). Specifically, it compares the returned New South Wales convict Magwitch in Great Expectations with Charles Bon, the Haitian-born son of a Southern planter in Absalom, as revenants whose migrations expose “the darkness beneath” the social edifice (Great Expectations, Ch. 20).
In Great Expectations, Magwitch is repeatedly presented as a risen corpse and, when he returns from his Australian entombment to announce that he has “made a gentleman” of Pip (ch. 20), his undead presence summons up deeper societal debts, including (I argue) the dispossession and exploitation of racially othered peoples in both Australian and American ‘New World’ contexts. Faulkner uses tropes of living death and disavowed kinship in similar ways to expose the “eluded dark fatherhead” (Absalom, ch. 8) of the South and the United States in colonial violence and black slavery. Charles Bon crosses onto U.S. soil from Haiti as the avatar of “two hundred years of oppression and exploitation” (ch. 7), and when he is shot dead he refuses to stay buried, returning to haunt Sutpen’s Hundred through his monstrous progeny.
Critics have connected Great Expectations’s Miss Havisham with Absalom’s Miss Rosa, but other connections remain to be explored. By comparing the symbolic functions of the undead Afro-Caribbean and Antipodean ‘others’ in these novels, my paper will test the viability of a ‘trans-southern’ approach to the Gothic.
Name: Marie Mulvey-Roberts
Institution: University of the West of England. Bristol
Abstract: “Migrating Medical Horror”
In 1866, the British surgeon Isaac Baker Brown published On the Curability of Certain Forms of Insanity, Epilepsy, Catalepsy and Hysteria in Females (1866), in which he advocated cliteridectomy as a panacea for various female maladies. He was expelled from the Society of Obstetrics for operating on patients without their consent. The operation, which he popularised, fell into disrepute in Britain but continued in the United States where it was looked upon more favourably. Before his disgrace, Brown had influenced U.S. doctors and his operation was discussed in medical journals. So dismayed was the editor of the Philadelphia-based Medical Record at the momentum of the anti-cliteridectomy movement in Britain that he lamented: ‘What now will be the chances of recovery for the poor epileptic female with a clitoris?’ This paper will look at the direct continuation in the United States of Brown’s procedure as a cure for masturbation up to the 1950s, when the category of hysteria was also discarded. During the 1960s, new forms of sexual surgery emerged designed to make women more sexual and tractable, which also involved forms of genital mutilation and, like Brown, pursued an agenda to preserve marriage at a time when it was under threat. These surgical horrors, as a means of social control, will be discussed in relation to Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives (1974) and David Cronenberg’s film Dead Ringers (1988), which reflect the notion that the female body is wrongly designed and in need of correction.
Name: Barry Murnane
Institution: St John's College, Oxford
Abstract: “’In the Flesh’ and the Pharmacology of Everyday Life; or into and out of the Gothic”
One of the key questions facing gothic studies today is that of its migration into and out of its once familiar generic or symbolic modes of representation. The BBC series In the Flesh addresses these concerns against the background of a neoliberal medical culture in which pharmaceutical treatments have become powerful tools of socio-economic normalization, either through inducing passivity or in heightening productivity, generating chemically adapted biomachines tuned to think and produce. But the pharmakon has always been a risky form of normalization, its poisonous mechanisms threatening to undo its helpful patterns by stealth, as can be seen in recreational drugs like Krokodil which have been described as zombie drugs themselves. I will firstly discuss the pharmacological and medical contexts of the series in which zombies are subjected to medical management to normalize them as “PDS sufferers”, in order to locate In the Flesh in terms of an already gothicized neoliberal pharmacology of everyday life. I will secondly locate this instance of medical gothic in a line of development stretching back to the 18th century in which medical discourse was fictionalised in gothic literature in order to thirdly enquire how the proximity of the symbolic pharmacology of the series to neoliberal medical discourses and practices actually challenges traditional representational patterns of the gothic and whether, with Bernard Stiegler, the gothic can still have a role as an alternative cure to societies evils.
Name: Jamil Mustafa
Institution: Lewis University
Abstract: “Lifting the Veil: Allegory, Ambivalence, and the (Scottish) Gothic in The Bride of Lammermoor”
Why doesn’t The Bride of Lammermoor portray the Union of 1707, as Waverley depicts the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745? To answer this question, I argue that we read the novel as a veiled commentary on the Union, a political allegory that enacts Scott’s deep ambivalence regarding the event. When we view Lucy vis-à-vis Bucklaw, the bride symbolizes Scotland and the bridegroom England. In relation to Edgar, Lucy figures England while he represents Scotland. Drawing on Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s analysis of veils in the Gothic, together with Jacques Derrida’s notion of allegory-as-haunting, I demonstrate how these two tropes of Union-as-union are informed by the Gothic, and how Scott’s ambivalence toward the Union is reflected by a conflict within his novel between diegetic Gothicism and extradiegetic realism. For Scott, the Gothic and Scotland belonged to the past; the realistic and Britain, to the present. The author transfers his conception of the Gothic as something peculiarly Scottish to his British narrator, Pattieson, who consistently attempts to demystify the occult occurrences or overtones in the novel. Thus post-Union British realism attempts to assimilate and circumscribe pre-Union Scottish Gothicism, even as Great Britain assimilated and circumscribed Scotland itself. Lucy’s rebellion signifies a victory of the romantic over the prosaic, of Scotland over Britain. For a moment—and perhaps longer—British realism proves unable to contain the Scottish Gothicism that vivifies The Bride.
Name: Caitlin Rose Myers
Institution: The University of Arizona
Abstract: "Melmoth’s Mob as Posthuman Assemblage"
At the intersection between posthuman theory and the Gothic lie monstrous bodies and alternative understandings of sentience that stretch “natural” into “supernatural.” The Gothic uses the terror caused by fragmentation, absence, and disorder to reevaluate literary, cultural, and even anthropocentric norms. Yet the posthuman Gothic also encompasses the uncanny unsettling of humanist subjectivity’s integrity through collective embodiment. In this paper, I examine the Gothic crowd turned mob in Charles Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820). I argue that the collective embodiment of the Gothic mob can be read as a posthuman “assemblage” in the sense of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus: a “rhizomatic” multiplicity in which “unity is consistently thwarted and obstructed.” I use David Collings’s Monstrous Society: Reciprocity, Discipline, and the Political Uncanny to establish the French Revolution’s part in producing a legacy of Gothic fiction which “alter[ed] the very conception of the human,” and therefore allowed the aggregate form of the mob to assert an impossible agency which produced fear specifically because of its abnegation of hierarchical control. Furthermore, I argue that Alonzo Monçada’s narrative as a witness to the mob’s violence upon the parricide monk in Melmoth the Wanderer questions the rights of the human subject as opposed to the justice of an amoral and almost technological multiplicity of actants without a central head. Through the violent yet reasoned actions of the posthuman mob, Gothic authors like Maturin detach “humanity” from morality and thereby begin to deconstruct “the axiological dualism between good and bad” connected to Enlightenment humanism (Deleuze and Guattari 20). Actions that could be seen as monstrous are associated with the destruction of the diseased mechanism of religious hypocrisy, and these actions cause a moment of wild, indiscriminate empathy in Monçada that he calls “mechanical.” Through the Gothic, a form already prone to deconstruction, a subject-actant can be both one and many, and this state can be both feared and valued. Maturin narrates the fear of the posthuman mob as assemblage but also examines how the posthuman as a force only becomes “monstrous” through humanist eyes.
Name: Chiho Nakagawa
Institution: Nara Women's University, Japan
Abstract: “Locked Room Mysteries and Gothic Imprisonment”
John Dickson Carr once enjoyed the popularity and critical acclaim as one of the most important writers in the Golden Age of crime fiction. His novels were particularly known for intricate clue-puzzles, and “locked room mysteries”—a murder occurs in a locked room to which no one seems to come in or out—were his specialties, along with his use of Gothic motifs. Many critics have acknowledged crime fiction’s indebtedness to the Gothic; Gothic castles and mansions are frequently used as the setting for bone-chilling murders. I would like to argue that the locked room thematic also reflect and develop the similar concerns represented in the Gothic imprisonment and boundaries, since it explores a model of the self in the early twentieth century.
Many locked rooms in Carr’s novels turn out not to be “hermetically sealed” after all. In The Hollow Man, the Dracula-like Hungarian who remade himself into a modern intellectual dies in a seemingly locked room. Crime fiction usually starts with a death, and the death is a starting point of a search for the self. When the search ends in The Hollow Man, it reveals not only Dr. Grimaud’s true identity, but also the unnerving truth that the closed space and the clearly demarcated self are mere illusions. In Carr’s locked room mysteries, the self emerges out of and disappears into a complicated web of the absence and presence of corporeality.
Name: Jonathan Newell
Institution: University of British Columbia Department of English
Abstract: “The Odour of Lions: Gothic Tourism and Olfaction in Algernon Blackwood’s ‘The Wendigo’”
Written by English author, broadcaster, outdoorsman, and mystic Algernon Blackwood, who spent the better part of a decade in Canada and America, “The Wendigo” (1910) concerns a group of hunters, principally made up of Scotsmen, who travel to the Canadian backwoods in search of moose but instead encounter the Wendigo, a ravenous spirit appropriated from Algonquin folklore, which Blackwood calls the “Call of Nature personified” (92). The Wendigo’s presence is always foreshadowed by a curious smell, the “odour of lions” (Blackwood 87), a weird stench that increasingly pervades the text and seems to seep into the characters, contaminating and transforming them.
In my paper, I argue that Blackwood’s Gothic story of backwoods tourism stages a confrontation between anthropocentric, colonial perspectives and ecological powers that always exceed human understanding or circumscription and, in doing so, reveal the “Gothicity,” amorphousness, and permeability that trouble our conceptions of subjectivity and the subject’s relation to the universe. This confrontation, I suggest, can be understood in terms recently proposed by the speculative realist philosopher Eugene Thacker as a juxtaposition of the “world-for-us” imagined by anthropocentric discourse and the seemingly unthinkable “world-in-itself,” which Thacker believes horror fiction can uniquely reveal (9). In their travel into the Canadian backwoods, the moose-hunters of “The Wendigo” attempt to assert their human supremacy over the natural world, but instead find themselves invaded and subsumed into that world.
Focusing on the monstrous odour of the Wendigo and drawing on recent scholarship on olfaction, disgust, and ontography, I read the odour of lions as a manifestation of interstitiality, indifferentiation, and the world-in-itself – forces that Western rationalist and colonial discourse sought to delimit, contain, and conquer. More specifically, I contend that the very difficulties inherent in conveying smell in a literary context – the challenges of linguistic mediation with regards to odour – are harnessed by Blackwood’s story to strengthen the association of the Wendigo’s malodorousness with a kind of cosmic awe, an ecological sublimity. Rather than simply confirming an essential alterity between humanity and nature, the dualistic, hierarchical configuration that characterizes the sublime as it is usually understood, the sublime odour of the Wendigo unravels notions of humanness and the supposed otherness of nature. Instead of serving as an indigenous phantom cheaply appropriated as the antagonist of imperial Gothic, then, Blackwood’s Wendigo undermines the discursive constructions on which the genre so typically relies.
Name: Benjamin E. Noad
Institution: University of Stirling
Abstract: “Migrations of Madness: A Genealogy of Mental Health in Modern and Contemporary Gothic Fictions Since 1960”
This paper examines a transition in Western cultural experience as clinical discourses on mental dis-ease are reformulated in an episteme haunted by neo-liberal ideologies. In tracing the textual migrations of what has been traditionally identified as “madness”, this paper argues that modern and contemporary Gothic fictions scrutinise the process of an inherently political medicalization of psychological distresses. This considers that transnational understandings of mental health are prejudiced by social exclusion during times of economic hardships. Gothic responds by subverting normalization: it reconfigures the power relations between doctor/psychiatrist and patient/subject to expose a clinical preoccupation with non-observance. Close textual analysis of Henry Farrell’s Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1960), William Goldman’s Magic (1976), Patrick McGrath’s Asylum (1996), and Jenni Fagan’s The Panopticon (2012) explores the dialectical migrations from “madness” to “mental health”. Here, the paper proceeds to interrogate how a neo-liberal governmentality discursively projects the stigma affecting mental health challenges by offering ‘treatment’ for the ‘sick’, ‘psychotic’, or ‘criminally insane’. These novels are contextualized alongside medical archival sources, (including the use of diagnostic tools such as the DSM-5 and the ICD-10), to provide a genealogy of conceptual wellbeing from 1960s community care treatments to a contemporary era of post-psychiatry. This paper concludes by highlighting instances of disciplinary control enforced within psychiatric institutions and throughout community care services with the view to using Gothic migrations of human experience as a means of analysing person-centred care.
Name: Inés Ordiz
Institution: Universidad de León, Spain
Abstract: “Civilization and Barbarism and Zombies: Argentina's Contemporary Horror”
Even though the presence of the Gothic in Latin America has been traditionally marginalized from canonical critical studies, many contemporary manifestations of literary horror suggest an active presence of the mode in the subcontinent. Through an approach that takes into consideration the dual feature, both global and local, of Globalgothic (as coined by Glennis Byron in 2013), my paper analyses a number of contemporary Argentinean fictions as representatives of the effective migration of the Gothic mode to the territory.
Works by authors such as Ana María Shua, Carlos Chernov, Gustavo Nielsen, Lázaro Covadlo and Guillermo Martínez, among others, are examples of this equally universal and inherently Argentinean literary terror; their narratives show a manifest influence of some of the masters of English and American Gothic and address global fears while, at the same time, successfully reflect the country's national identity and harrowing past. The tales make use of canonical figures of the horror genre, such as the psychopath, the cannibal and the zombie, to explore issues related to the fear of the outsider, the dichotomy between civilization and barbarism (which has shaped the Argentinean national identity through history) and the traumatic return of the country's past violence, from colonial times to the military dictatorship and the economic crisis of 2001.
Name: Paulina Palmer
Institution: Independent Scholar
Abstract: “Representations of Spectrality and the Gothic Monster in the Fiction of Randall Kenan”
Randall Kenan is known for his depiction of African American life in North Carolina centring on the fictional village of Tim’s Creek. Interplaying realism with fantasy, he explores the haunting of the community by racial/ sexual traumas relating to slavery and homophobia. Developing my discussion of his work in The Queer Uncanny (2012), my paper explores Kenan’s treatment of spectrality and the Gothic monster in A Visitation of Spirits and ‘Let the Dead Bury the Dead’.
A Visitation of Spirits portrays the teenage Horace Cross, riddled by guilt on account of his homosexuality and engaging in sex with a white man, becoming haunted by a flock of vengeful ‘ghouls and ghosts’, including a black demon that hounds him to death. ‘Let the Dead Bury the Dead’, in contrast, tunnels back into the past to uncover the history of Tim’s Creek, locating its origins in a maroon commune of escaped slaves. The concept ‘monster’ is controversial, with the white owner of the local plantation assigning it to Pharaoh, the slave instigating the rebellion, and Pharaoh to the white minister who controls his congregation through necromancy. Homosexuality also features in the narrative, exemplified by the plantation owner’s son.
As well as discussing the monster as a signifier of race and transgressive sexuality, I explore Kenan’s intertextual references to Dickens’s ghost stories and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Critics and theorists cited include Homi Bhabha, Justin Edwards and Judith Halberstam.
Name: Maria Parrino
Institution: University of Bristol (UK)
Abstract: “‘Write my story and translate’. Mary Shelley’s reading, writing and translating”.
Some contemporary critics maintain that we need to challenge the ‘tyranny of the Anglo-American narratives of the Gothic’ and show the ‘importance of translation and European writing in the development of the Gothic novel’ (Horner, 2002). There are two questions which emerge from such a consideration: first, is the idea of Europe the ‘natural’ result of geographical boundaries or is it a geopolitical and economic outcome, a construction ‘in theory’? (Dainotto, 2007). The second question concerns the issue of translation at large, not only in terms of language but also of migration of motives, themes and imagery. David Punter, who refers to the ‘uncanny of translation’, underlines that alongside the benefit of sharing the experience of literatures in English from other parts of the world, ‘there also lies a profound sense of the unheimlich, of all that is not told in English, of all that might be understood if only language were not a barrier as well as a facilitator’ (2007). This paper intends to examine the issue of writing and translating in Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, unarguably one of the most translated Gothic novels. By analyzing Mary Shelley’s readings of European literature and her personal ‘rambles’ in European countries, this study aims to trace contaminations between her life and her writings. How did Mary Shelley’s readings influence her writings (e.g. Mathilda from Alfieri’s Mirra)? Did she ever question the issue of translation? What representation of English people travelling abroad (Namely in Italy) did she give? How did she who made the most famous Gothic creature a multilingual traveller narrate her own migration into foreign countries and foreign languages? The study suggests the extraordinary and unsettling power of crossing geographical, language and literary borders.
Name: Gwyneth Peaty
Institution: Curtin University Australia
Abstract: “Virtual Migration as Gothic Play: Lone Wanderers and Monstrous Others in Fallout 3”
While the Gothic has been adapted across many media forms, one of its most fruitful migrations has been into the dynamic world of video games. Reconfiguring familiar narratives, figures, and motifs, video games offer unique and engaging new Gothic visions and experiences for 21st century players. Accordingly, this paper explores a game that reimagines the figure of the eternal Gothic wanderer; the haunted outsider perpetually searching for redemption, whose liminality and erratic movements both demarcate and transgress those boundaries that order cultural spaces.
A popular and critically acclaimed representative of the ‘open world’ genre, Fallout 3 (2008) invites you to roam freely across an immense virtual wasteland. Set in the United States in the year 2277, the game presents a post-apocalyptic future in which harsh windswept plains and magnificently derelict cities are all that remains of a once richly populated landscape. Dispossessed fragments of human society haunt these remnants. Mutated by radiation, some have transformed into ghouls and lost their humanity entirely. Tracing the contours of loss, history and decay, the player must walk a lonely road in search of meaning, justice, and belonging. At the same time, encounters with monsters and monstrous Others provide opportunities to confront questions of humanity and mortality more directly. In this paper I argue that Fallout 3 represents a form of virtual migration as Gothic play, and through this offers a new way of representing and experiencing the complexity of the Gothic wanderer.
Name: Kiley Porter
Institution: Wichita State University
Abstract: "An Intimate Affair: Dracula and the Invasion of Female Bodies"
Undeniably, the English experienced trepidation towards the turn of the century for multiple reasons. My research explores the effects of British imperialism and the unexpected consequences of reverse colonization through Victorian literature’s interpretation and treatment of the female body, specifically, in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Stephen D. Arata addresses reverse imperialism in “The Occidental Tourist: Dracula and the Anxiety of Reverse Colonization” by terming it “the marauding, invasive Other;” my research examines its effects through Stoker’s violation of the female body. To tighten the lens of my scope, I intend to focus my analysis of Dracula through the context of historical criticism by emphasizing that the decline of Britain’s imperialist expansion and the influx of various races pouring into Britain during the Victorian period directly correlate to the apparent shift in British culture, and therefore, a shift in British apprehensions towards the corrupting “Other.”
I concentrate primarily on an imperialist approach but not in the typical sense. I am more interested in the repercussions of imperialism and the unavoidable corruption of British culture expressed through reverse colonization. I examine the way Stoker identifies Britain with the female body: imperialism and reverse colonization unintentionally invite the foreign into it, and Stoker depicts this infiltration through the actual defilement of the female body.
Name: Dr. Franz J Potter
Institution: College of Letters and Sciences National University US
Abstract: “Migratory Gothic Chapbooks”
Few critics would call Sarah Wilkinson a best-selling author. Instead she is known merely as a ‘minor’ Gothic novelist, a plagiarist, at best: a hack writer. I don’t want to challenge those labels, indeed, those labels acknowledge Wilkinson’s innate ability to redact and plagiarize popular dramas and fiction. In short, Wilkinson demonstrates the migratory nature of the Gothic from novel to chapbook in the early 19th century. I intend to examine Wilkinson’s ability to exploit the reader’s Gothic predilection for the sensational and capitalize on the demand for tales of terror.
This paper will explore two such chapbooks to show how Wilkinson adapted and counterfeited popular novels and dramas into lucrative “original” tales. The first example comes from Wilkinson’s own successful novel, The Fugitive Countess; or, The Convent of St. Ursula in 1807 which she adroitly migrated to a chapbook as The Convent of St. Ursula; or, Incidents at Ottagro in 1809. The second comes from Thomas Skinner Surr’s “George Barnwell, a Novel” (1798) which itself is a fictional augmentation and adaptation of the drama “George Barnwell; or The London Merchant” by George Lillo into the popular Interesting and “Pathetic History of George Barnwell” (1804), Each work was uniquely crafted for the expanding audience of working class readers who did not always have access to a circulating library. Such examples underscore the migratory nature of the early Gothic across formats in search of an audience.
Name: David Punter
Institution: University of Bristol, UK
Abstract: “Crimes of the Future”
In this paper I want to explore some of the ways in which Gothic ‘migrates’ into crime fiction, not through the perhaps undeniably Gothic nature of some literary crimes themselves, but through the figure of the detective or investigator and the peculiar, often premonitory or uncanny powers they display in relation to the vexed question of the ‘solution’. It goes without saying, perhaps, that many detectives from Sherlock Holmes onwards lead what can only be called ‘Gothic home lives’; many are also troubled by issues of addiction, uncertain genealogies, and varieties of complicity with the psychology of the ‘criminals’ they are supposed to be investigating. Paul Auster, Ruth Rendell, Colin Dexter, P.D. James are only a few of the writers where this apparently telepathic concurrence with the activities of the criminal is at the forefront; all too frequently there is an assertion of supposedly rational ‘method’ alongside what simultaneously appears to be a reliance on the ‘supernatural’ as a means, perhaps the only means, of locating disturbing activity. The ‘Peculiar Crimes Unit’ supposedly headed by the interestingly Named superannuated detectives Bryant and May in Christopher Fowler’s series of novels is perhaps emblematic: ‘peculiar’ (‘particular’) crimes need solution by peculiar methods, not excluding recourse to clairvoyants, séances and other neo-Victorian paraphernalia so beloved of the ‘league of extraordinary gentlemen’. Quite a lot of detectives, whether within or without the institutional carapace of the forces of the police, might appear, if ever actually summoned before a court of law, to be clinically deranged; our readerly interest may lie as much in discerning their own pathology before the actual pathologists (the body-snatchers, the workers in the ‘body farms’) need to make their appearance.
Name: Joana Rita Jacob Ramalho
Institution: University College London UK
Abstract: “Routes of Cinematic Gothicity—Transition, Transgression and Travelling Directors”
Recent publications explore the Gothic as a transnational, trans-era, multifaceted, and multi-spatial mode that straddles epistemological spheres as well as cultural and media borders. Studying the Gothic is indeed to study its many voyages—its translations from one cultural world into another, from one time into its adjacent temporality, and from one’s personal sphere into an Other’s domain. My paper revisits, revises and reworks the concept of Gothic mobility by focusing on its transmigration via cross-cultural cinematic traditions.
One of the ways the Gothic imagination travelled from the nineteenth century into the twentieth was through the movements of its filmic promoters. These agents of dissemination were, in their majority, European exiles and émigrés who, in American soil and elsewhere, created a singular way of appropriating and externalising Gothic tropes and sensibilities. While mobility of concept is not the same as personal migration, bringing the two together sheds light on an under theorised discussion of works that influenced film practices worldwide, from British Gothic through American Gothic, German Expressionism, French surrealist films and Latin-American magical realism to Nordic noirs. Additionally, on another level, Gothic narratives also reflect these myriad forms of dwelling and are, in fact, built on the multiple geographic, temporal, verbal, and psychological transitions and transgressions of their protagonists.
I will investigate how journeying transforms representations of memory and place in Gothic cinema, focusing specifically on the period between 1910 and the late 1950s,whilst also hinting at certain twenty-first-century heirs to those early depictions and transmissions of filmic Gothicity.
Name: Natasha Rebry
Institution: The University of British Columbia, (Okanagan) Canada
Abstract: “The Dethronement of the Human: Exile in H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds”
H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds (1898) amplifies the well-established Gothic theme of exile, portraying a chaotic exodus of humans after a Martian invasion of England. Wells’ scientific romance generates fear through its depiction of the English as exiled not only from their homes but also from their position as “master[s]” of nature, resulting in “a sense of dethronement” as the “empire of man” passes away (2003, p. 160). Easily bested by the technologically-advanced Martians, the English in the novel are threatened with colonisation and recast as “lesser” beings through comparisons to the nearly-exterminated Tasmanians (described as bearing a “human likeness”), the vanished bison and dodo, and a variety of “lower” animals including rabbits, insects, infusoria and rats, undermining the Victorians’ sense of dominance.
In exploring the theme of exile in Wells’ novel, I argue that the narrative uses the rhetoric of imperialism and “survival of the fittest” in its depiction of the Martian invasion in order to test the limits of and suggest possibilities for kinship and understanding between peoples and species. While a common trope of colonial discourse was the suggested resemblance between native and animal in order to dehumanize natives and thus justify exploitive and violent possibilities for colonial rulers, Wells’ fiction uses such comparisons between humans and “animals” to reveal the human subject as part of what Darwin (1859) called an “inextricable web of affinities” (272), one that linked Homo sapiens with nonhuman subjects.
Name: Anna Reid
Institution: Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos, Mexico
Abstract: “Horror in the Deep and Dark Recesses of the Forest”
Graveyard poetry associates certain trees with death and decay, with graves and worms, with moonshine and shadows. Trees are rooted in the past, made of the bones of the earth, and offer a reflection upon the fleeting nature of life. They also set the scene for many sinister encounters and events. Although individual trees, such as elms and yews can evoke horror, climbing parasitic plants can provoke yet more horror. Trees en masse can be even worse; sinister forests filled with dread and mustiness. Forests bewilder, disorientate and endanger travelers who fall under their evil and perhaps ancient spell.
Once penetrated forests often represent danger and they become a place of transition or transformation, within which lurk unknown dangers, sublimity, or a plethora of strange creatures. Trees are personified and they watch over the forest with inquisitive eyes. Forest dwellers are concealed by gnarled branches or an impenetrable jungle. Strange old roads wind through ancient forests, paths from which one should never ere, dark trees whisper and beckon, filling travelers with a sense of dread.
This article will explore the formidable presence of trees and woods in Gothic literature. It will emphasize their malign and menacing nature, their watchfulness and anger. Geographical locations change perspectives and in certain contexts humanity pits itself against impenetrable nature. Authors to be addressed are J.R.R. Tolkien, Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood and Horacio Quiroga.
Name: Katharina Rein
Institution: Bauhaus-University Weimar / Humboldt-University Berlin
Abstract: “Magic Horrors: Spectacles of Violence in Stage Conjuring”
Most grand illusions in stage magic focus the human body which is made to levitate, vanish or appear onstage. The more gruesome but no less popular feats included humans being shot, dismembered or cut in parts on the magician’s stage. These performances not only stage potentially dangerous stunts for the sake of entertainment – like the infamous bullet catch maimed and killed numerous performers in the course of roughly five centuries of its performance. Moreover, they are situated along the boundary between horror and amusement. And it is this potential danger and spectacle turning into a disaster that is in part responsible for those feats’ great popularity.
This presentation will focus on a stage illusion which, from its first performance in London in 1921, came to become the best known and most copied illusion of all time: “Sawing a Woman in Half”. This act, with its implication of severe violence against the female body, not only references historic anxieties connected to female emancipation and the horrors of the First World War, which are more immediately tied to mutilation. It is also one of the magic tricks most often represented in popular culture, especially – due to its suggested brutality – In horror narratives. By analyzing selected representations of it as well as historic stage performances of the “Sawing a Woman in Half” illusion, I will try to get to address the point at which stage entertainment turns into a gruesome spectacle making the spectators’ laughter get stuck in their throats.
Name: Xavier Aldana Reyes
Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University UK
Abstract: “Spain’s Radical Readers? The Rise and Value of Anti-Clerical Gothic Translations during the Liberal Triennium”
Although translations of key Gothic texts had been around, in expurgated and heavily adapted forms, since the turn of the century, the Liberal Triennium’s (1820–3) relaxation of laws affecting cultural censorship allowed for a veritable landslide of Gothic translations in Spain. Inquisitorial rule over all matters literary had meant that what few Gothic texts had been translated during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries usually belonged to the moralistic and didactic, supernaturally explained terror of writers such as Radcliffe, Reeve or Roche. However, as soon as the Triennium made it possible, publishers took to the translation of the more transgressive, licentious and, most significantly, anti-clerical horrors of Lewis and Ireland.
This paper seeks to study the rise and cultural value of two key texts, The Monk (1795) and The Abbess (1799), as well as their potential appeal in 1822, when they first appeared in Spain. I begin by exploring the adaptation of these novels, especially the alteration and excision of certain passages, in order to illustrate the type of constraints imposed on the Gothic in Spain. This allows me to assess the revolutionary nature of the original material within the context of early nineteenth century Spain. I conclude by proposing that, despite Spain’s deeply conservative and restrictive Catholic ideology, a niche bourgeois readership may have found important meanings in these tales of anti-clericalism. Their publication constitutes a challenge to the cultural stronghold of the Inquisition and suggests that the Gothic could have had a radical political value for its readers.
Name: Céline Rodenas
Institution: Laboratoire GRIC Université du Havre France
Abstract: “Ann Radcliffe’s novels and their translations into Italian at the beginning of the nineteenth century”
English Gothic novels often describe the peregrinations of young women and men who have to leave home and are thus led to explore new horizons. Ann Radcliffe’s novels are often set in Southern Europe, and more particularly in France (The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Romance of The Forest) and in Italy (The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Italian, A Sicilian Romance), thus enabling British readers to discover those countries. However those incursions into different lands are always followed by a return back home and are not migrations in the proper sense. On the contrary, Gothic texts themselves migrate through Europe at the turn of the nineteenth century, thanks to travelers bringing them in their suitcases and, more particularly, thanks to translators adapting them to the taste of other countries. Ann Radcliffe’s novels were particularly popular during the nineteenth century and they were the first gothic texts to be translated into Italian. The following paper will focus on the first Italian translations of A Sicilian Romance (1790), The Romance of The Forest (1791), The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and The Italian (1797). It will assess how the early English Gothic novel migrated to Italy at the beginning of the nineteenth century, by focusing on the role played by French translations in this migration, on the adaptations added to the texts in order to make them suitable for their new home, and on the impact of those translations on the diffusion of the Gothic genre throughout Europe.
Name: Charles Kipngeno Rono
Institution: Department of Literature, Theatre and Film Studies, Moi University Eldoret Kenya
Abstract: “The Dead as the Living: Spectral Politics and Metaphorics of ‘Re-turn’ in Francis Imbuga’s Kafira Trilogy”
Kenyan playwright Francis Imbuga preoccupies himself with the politics of ghosts. Virtually all of his plays dramatically present narratives torn between life and death in which the dead are alive and participating in socio-economic and political engagements, while the living are simply the living-dead. In foregrounding this concept of spectralization, Imbuga not only dedicates the individual play to the deceased but also exploits apparitions who resurface as the plays unfold. The study will examine a number of Imbuga’s works, Betrayal in the City (1975), Man of Kafira (1984) and The Green Cross of Kafira (posthumous 2013) commonly known as the Kafira trilogy because the works are set in the fictional country, Kafira. The paper will take Man of Kafira as a case study that can show us how Imbuga’s obsession with the images of the dead places the work within the literature of the gothic uncanny in which the dead can re-appear in a very unfamiliar ways. In addition it will link the presentation of Imbuga’s ghosts to psychological studies in an attempt to show how political dispensation in the post-independence African nations can psychologically torment both the living and dead. Drawing on the disjunctive theories of perception, particularly on hallucination that perceives events as ‘mere experiences’, the study examines the place of the deceased dedicatee Stella Muka Awinja in setting up the ground for Imbuga’s deployment of image of a dead Archbishop, Lum-Lum and the apparition of the Drunkard and the Sober man. The paper reaches back to seminal critics like Keith Thomas, who argued in Religion and the Decline of Magic (1971) that ghosts “must be left to the psychologist and the psychic researcher”, and to Freud’s notion of the unconscious (1911) in which they are seen as repressed truths seeking the safety-valve of dreams and fictions to access the conscious mind. Such sources can yet calibrate Imbuga’s use of psychology to problematize the concept of truth especially at a time when the African dictatorial regimes could not tolerate any kind of truth. The study will finally explore the significance of the metaphorics of return by demonstrating that by re-membering themselves, the bodies that the repressive regimes supposedly erased, die not, and that their spirits live forever.
Name: Erika Rothberg
Institution: Loyola Marymount University
Abstract: “Truly Dead-Ends: Failed Journeys and Social Immobility in Flannery O’Connor’s ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’ and ‘The Life You Save May Be Your Own’”
Flannery O’Connor’s Southern Gothic short story collection, A Good Man is Hard to Find, is rife with failed journeys. The realm in which O’Connor crafts her tales is not one hospitable to transience. Her stories “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” both feature characters who are damned to never complete their travels.
In “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” a family sets out on a journey to Florida, but are slaughtered after they encounter an escaped convict/murderer called The Misfit, ending their vacation in a literal dead-end. In “The Life You Save May Be Your Own,” deaf, simple-minded Lucynell is left in a roadside diner by her husband Tom hours after their wedding, which Tom only agreed to in order to steal Lucynell’s mother’s car and meager savings.
Both the unNamed family and Lucynell are prevented from escaping their circumstances. The family “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is murdered before they can truly begin their journey; Lucynell similarly has her journey ended when her husband abandons her. Both travels are cut short by men preventing them from moving up in the world, as the family cannot leave their defunct small town for vacation, and Lucynell cannot leave her mother’s constrictive household. O’Connor’s characters are forced to stay in their lower-class settings, as their journeys are prematurely severed by men preventing them from enjoying a middle-class family vacation or elevated status as a wife.
Name: Aren Roukema
Institution: Birkbeck, University of London UK
Abstract: “Gothic Interchange in Charles Williams’s Occult Fiction”
Charles Williams (1886-1945), novelist, poet, literary critic and theologian, is usually viewed as a Christian fantasist, largely as a result of his association with the Inklings literary circle, which also included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. His importance as a writer of the gothic and the esoteric has received much less attention, though both narrative modes permeate his seven novels of the fantastic. Williams relied on gothic and occult tropes to remind his readers of both the terror and the reality of the supernatural. At the hands of spirits, necromancers and black magicians, another world, at once horrible and sublime, bleeds through material reality. This paper explores Williams’s reliance on the gothic mode in light of his corresponding interest in the concepts and practices of the modernist occult. Like the gothic, esoteric knowledge offered Williams an opportunity to create a liminal space between natural and supernatural, both in his fiction and on a personal, experiential level that had distinctly narrative dimensions. Through the prism of Williams’s fiction, the paper then explores longstanding cultural exchanges between the esoteric and the gothic, analyzing the extent to which the gothic’s sense of the terrible, the uncanny and the intrusive has been propagated and disseminated through esoteric motifs—valuable to the gothic enterprise because of their narrativity, exotic nature and rejected status in Western society.
Name: Victor Sage
Institution: University of East Anglia UK
Abstract: “The Migration of Little Peter”
This paper explores the European migration of the story (ie both the ‘plot’ and the Gothic motif) of Das Petermännchen (1793), the schauerroman by Christian Heinrich Spiess, which purports to be a tale of the fourteenth century. Spiess’s text is distinctive for three reasons: (1) it portrays the Devil in his first appearance as a helpful and obliging servant of dwarf stature, who progressively transforms into a gigantic and terrifying monster; (2) it uses the ‘folk-motif’ of sheer size or bodily scale to represent the inner processes of moral degradation; and (3) it employs a layered narrative which frames the horrific excesses from a mordantly comic, post-Enlightenment point of view. The text became a classic in France after it was translated into French in 1795. At the same time, it is well-known that Spiess’s text was a source for The Monk (1796): Killen, for example, claims that he ‘plundered’ it.
The signs of migration, this paper will argue, are present in the role of the Devil in Lewis’s novel whose first appearance as a tinsel-winged, high-camp angel, newly escaped from a Drury Lane pantomime, progressively transforms in stature and impact into a gigantic eagle which sinks his claws into Ambrosio’s head and drops him still living into the Sierra Morena. From ‘The Monk , Little Peter migrates yet again into female Gothic novel by Lewis’s friend, Charlotte Dacre in 1806, Zofloya, used this time to signify the growth of female sexual desire.
Name: Nozomi Saito
Institution: Boston University US
Abstract: “Plays of Spirits: Pound’s Noh Plays as Gothic Translations”
The Classic Noh Theatre of Japan by Ezra Pound and Ernest Fenollosa since its initial publication has long remained a contentious text around which converge modernist concerns of language, translation, (trans)nationalism, and experimentations with dramatic and poetic form. Translated from Japanese to English by Fenollosa, and stylized and edited by Pound, the Classic Noh blends mis-readings and missed translations of the Noh plays and re-creates them as something other than the historic plays of dance and poetry as they functioned in Japanese culture.
Despite the extensive scholarship elucidating the failures of Pound’s Noh translations, little has been said of Pound’s most overt and seemingly out-of-place commentaries in the translations: references to séances and ghosts. Pound not only frames his selection of the Noh plays using ghosts, but he also repeatedly interjects within the text to comment on their parallels to Western spiritist doctrines.
While this ghostly framing may appear to be tangential to Pound’s greater intent of using the Noh plays to launch a new artistic form for modernist drama, I argue that Pound relies on gothic conventions of spiritual invocation in order to experiment with the invocative power of language and to use the Noh plays as a medium to invoke his own spirit of masculinized modernism. By examining Pound’s uses of gothic conventions—in particular those of interbreeding the foreign and domestic, mutations of artistic form, and the supernatural power of language—this paper seeks to show that the emanations of the gothic in translation.
Name: Anna Shajirat
Institution: University of Washington US
Abstract: “The Gothic Veil Revisited”
Of the many gothic tropes that haunt scholars of the genre , the veil is one that continues to fascinate us. Joining in the rich critical conversation about the gothic veil , I argue that the veil reveals a fantastic temporality that structures the gothic novel, reflective of the ambivalent construction of the historical past and present in eighteenth - century Britain . Just as the veil makes meaning in both its surface and depth, by that which lies behind it, the historical present can never actually be split from the past, but is instead constituted by and in its relation to that past. The gothic veil, then, figures a fantasy of history: the past can only be tolerated in the present if it is disavowed as barbaric, or if it is idealized as a lost paradise. The gothic constructs the fantasy of an idealized past because of its ambivalent view of the present: while the enlightened present is seen as a matured and perfected version of the past, there is simultaneously a great sense of loss in the civilizing progress of enlightenment, and a desire to return to that lost past. I look at the veil as object, most famously depicted in the veil that covers the waxed figure in Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho , and also explore the verb form, “to (un)veil,” in Regina Maria Roche’s Clermont in the attempt to tease apart the fantastic tricks of time in the gothic novel.
Name: Andrew Smith
Institution: University of Sheffield
Abstract: “Anglo-American migrations: Saul Bellow and the Gothic”
Saul Bellow’s writings are characterised by the tensions between their American born Jewish narrators and their European born progenitors. The migration to America and the type of cultural assimilations with which it is associated are the source of much soul searching by Bellow’s narrators. Scattered references to the Gothic in the early writing often give shape to these cultural anxieties. From The Victim (1947) to Herzog (1964) occasional references to Blake, Poe, and Boris Karloff represent moments of estrangement and alienation. Later writings, however, such as ‘Cousins’ (1984) and More Die of Heartbreak (1987) employ the Gothic in a more sustained way with the references to Jewish mysticism in ‘Cousins’ forming a point of contact with the past, whereas references to the Addams Family, Poe, Hawthorne, and Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) in More Die of Heartbreak illustrate an engagement with an American Gothic tradition. These later texts do not, however, suggest a refutation of American cultural values, but an ambivalent engagement with perceived American freedoms which contrast with a perception of an old world Eastern Europe associated with despotic communism. There is no way back for Bellow’s narrators who obsess about how to negotiate a geographical migration that does not erode Jewish beliefs. The Jewish figure of the dybbuk, a figure of homelessness and anxiety, metaphorically shapes these concerns in an argument about how Bellow employs the Gothic to explore the migratory tensions between old and new and the Jewish and the secular.
Name: Catherine Spooner
Institution: Lancaster University
Abstract: “‘It’s just the travelling that’s such a drag’: mobility, tourism and globalised vampires in Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive”
Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive (2014) is a key example of globalised vampire cinema: a British-German co-production, with an American director, British and Australian lead actors, and shot on location in Detroit and Tangier. It dramatizes, moreover, the movement of vampires within a globalised world. Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) are permanently in exile, world-weary expatriates who punctuate a life of endlessly prolonged leisure with touristic encounters with urban landscapes. They are global citizens who use video messaging and social media to communicate between continents, and who travel by plane, car and foot between and through a series of diverse locations, but whose mobility is ultimately restricted by their need to remain close to a reliable blood-source.
This paper will explore the ways in which Jarmusch’s film reflects and expands on the vampire as a figure who travels, whether literally (Dracula’s journey to England) or figuratively (international reiterations of the vampire myth). It will argue that while the earliest Western vampire narratives trace travellers’ encounters with exotic vampire customs, this has now come full circle as vampires themselves exhibit touristic behaviour. In Jarmusch’s film, Adam’s epiphanic appreciation of a Lebanese singer stages an encounter with the exotic female other that reconfirms Orientalist models. The film therefore comments on the consumption of foreign landscapes and their inhabitants as a kind of vampiric practice.
Name: Lauren Stephenson
Institution: York St. John University UK
Abstract: “Landscape and the male body in the British ‘Hoodie Horror’ film cycle”
By focusing on young men distinguished by their ‘hoodies’, 'hoodie horror' films highlight pertinent generational tensions and issues of 21st century masculinity and contemporary class structure. Eden Lake (Watkins, 2008) is perhaps the best known 'hoodie horror', and one of the earliest films of the cycle. However, this paper will discuss two lesser known films, Community (Ford, 2012) and Comedown (Huda, 2012), in order to explore popular characterisations of the hoodie figure. In both films, the male body is explicitly linked with the landscape of the council estate and the drug culture that this landscape is perceived to facilitate. Therefore, both the male body and its surrounding landscape become sites of social breakdown, and within the world of the estate, the male body is transformed, brutalised, trapped. This representation of male bodies communicates a variety of masculine identities, the majority of these identities articulated by class and age. This paper hopes to consider the implications of the films’ representations of the male body for understandings of contemporary masculinity, the hypothesis being that these films reflect recent failures within male dominated institutions, whilst simultaneously (and paradoxically) demonising those who are among the worst affected by such failures.
Name: Dawn Stobbart
Institution: Lancaster University UK
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Abstract: “Good Migrations: Journeys across The Stands Apocalyptic Landscape”
In 1972, John Jerome stated that ‘America is a road epic’, a concept applied to the fiction of Stephen King by Fabio Parasecoli when he says that ‘King constructs narratives of migration from a catastrophe caused by human failure’. The validity of Parasecoli’s critical statement is upheld in King’s post-apocalyptic tale of dark Christianity, The Stand.
Set during and in the aftermath of a virus Named Captain Tripps, King uses the landscapes and highways of America to ‘exploit the Gothic potentials of place’ as John Sears notes in Stephen King’s Gothic (Sears, 2011, p156), reminding us that King’s Gothic is firmly rooted in familiar geographical settings. The novel follows survivors as they are drawn to one of two messianic entities, Mother Abigail in Boulder and Randall Flagg in Las Vegas, representing good and evil, respectively. In doing so, King inverts the familiar American landscape and culture, turning them into unheimlich, threatening places, drawing heavily on Freud’s uncanniness to situate post-apocalyptic America as a ‘bad place’ and to construct a socio-political narrative that positions modern society in a similar role.
This paper will focus on the journeys of a single character, Stuart Redman—a manifest representation of everyman—as he makes his way across the remnants of the United States. Charting these journeys will show how Kings use of place and space constructs a Gothic America that is situated firmly within the late twentieth century’s social and political milieu, exposing the American nightmare even as it considers the American Dream.
Name: Thomas Stuart
Institution: University of Western Ontario
Abstract: “Gothic Minstrelsy: Masquerade in Melville’s Benito Cereno”
The critical study of Melville’s Benito Cereno is, ultimately, a study in parallel lines. That the novella is gothic and that it draws on techniques used in American minstrelsy are common claims, yet these arguments have not been united. Indeed, minstrelsy has been generally overlooked by gothic criticism, despite providing rich material for other American critical projects. Such a theoretical gap has left untapped the gothic possibilities latent within 19th-‐century America’s cultural compulsion to perform minstrelsy. Taking up Melville’s depiction of maritime slave revolt, this paper theorizes the gothic aesthetic inherent in minstrelsy’s staging of a degraded other within a space of travel and cultural exchange.
Eric Lott has argued that “the minstrel show most often glossed… racial contacts and tensions endemic to the north and the frontier” rather than to its southern setting (Love and Death 38). Similar performances of cross-‐border flux, I argue, are restaged on Cereno’s ship, which becomes a crucible for various migratory movements – the export of British gothic literature, the trade of enslaved bodies, the itinerant theatrical spectacle. From these emerges a confusion of body-‐identity that rehearses the minstrel conceit of degraded white bodies and performed black bodies in positions of charismatic power. This paper examines the methods by which, in the travelling gothic space of Benito Cereno, performance and masquerade corrode identity, while power, stripped of traditional hierarchies, floats free of its moorings. Through attention to such networks of migration, I argue the currently discrete critical conversations of Melville can be fruitfully brought together.
Name: Jo Sullivan
Institution: Duquesne University US
Abstract: “Villains, Victims, and Vivisection: Penetrating the Missing Narratives and Migratory Discourse of the Gothic”
In 1867, Isaac Baker Brown was expelled from the Obstetrical Society of London for performing clitoridectomies without the consent of his patients. During his trial, testimony was given that created a variety of narratives surrounding Brown’s victims and their sexuality. In these, the mutilated patients are nearly absent; villainous and depraved doctors victimize helpless fathers and husbands. These narratives of exclusion and sensationalism contain key Gothic elements that are at once antithetical to and formative of the discourse surrounding gynecologic surgery. While debates surrounding such surgery were widely publicized in the late nineteenth century, the practices themselves were still seen as marginally taboo operations performed by a select few. It is their reflection in the vivisection literature of the fin de siècle that transports these conversations surrounding the treatment of female sexuality, the body, and medical professionalism into the mainstream public consciousness.
In this paper, I will argue that the gothic aesthetic of the fin de siècle represents a migratory discourse that transcends these generic boundaries and facilitates this diasporic shift. By analyzing the Gothic tropes and narrative trends found in H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau alongside medical narratives of gynecologic surgery and vivisection, I argue that these apparently dissimilar discursive fields penetrate and infect each other. As a result, this migration of the Gothic into medical narratives effectively pathologizes the female body within the cultural consciousness as not only abhuman, but as both a victimized yet dangerous object that signifies the multiplicity of fin-de-siècle sexualities.
Name: Christine Tondorf
Institution: Southern Cross University Australia
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Abstract: “Gothic migrates to the Aussie surf beaches”
Australian beaches are synonymous with white sand, bright sunshine and golden, buffed bodies, but the antipodean coast has a dark side. Down Under, there exists a genre of writing that could be recognised as Coastal Gothic. Some of Australia’s most acclaimed authors (Tim Winton, Richard Flannigan) have recently penned brooding novels about troubled men who retreat to the beach. But scholars have been slow to acknowledge the texts as Gothic. In the Australian psyche the coast is a place of escape, healing, spiritual connection. But in these novels the beach has a binary nature – it menaces but is just as likely to restore the protagonist. The coast is the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde of locations. The sea was present in Australian convict Gothic (For the Term of His Natural Life, Clarke 1872), as a gaol wall. But in nineteenth century, Australian Gothic went bush. The interior became a source of terror ('The Bush Undertaker’, Lawson 1892), fitting a colonial need to subdue and tame the land. At the century’s end, new rail lines and shorter working hours led Aussies back to the beach. By the 1960s, the beach had replaced the bush as the national icon. Radical movements including feminism arrived in the 1960s. Domestic gothic was born, focussing on dominating patriarchs/matriarchs ruling claustrophobic suburban homes, often set beach-side (eg The Watchtower, Harrower 1966). Later, Tim Winton and Robert Drewe wrote the first true Australian coastal Gothic novels, with undercurrents of dread and foreboding.
Name: Sherry R. Truffin
Institution: Campbell University US
Abstract: “New Orleans as Gothic Capital”
To the extent that the Gothic is centrally concerned with haunting, excess, transgression, isolation, entrapment, madness, and monstrosity, it is difficult to imagine an American city whose location, weather, history, or culture make for a more fitting Gothic scene than New Orleans, Louisiana.
New Orleans is haunted, marginal, hybrid, and alien in many ways: geographically isolated, oppressively humid, weather-beaten, historically peculiar, violently contested, culturally hybrid. Its dead are everywhere, buried aboveground because most of the city is below sea level. Its history is full of violence: among Native American tribes, then between Native American tribes and colonial powers, and finally among colonial powers. It was under French rule, then Spanish, and then French again before being purchased by the United States in 1803, and it is the only city in the United States whose legal system is modeled on French law. In contemporary times, it has routinely vied with much larger cities such as Chicago and Detroit for the dubious distinction of “murder capital” of the United States. Its cultural hybridity is embodied in its architecture (decidedly Spanish in the famous French Quarter), its people (Creoles from France, Spain, and Africa; Haitian immigrants; and many others), its religious sensibilities (Catholicism fused with voodoo), and many other areas of life. It has a uniquely complex racial history not only because Creoles could be black and/or white, European and/or African, but also because it was, in the 19th century, both a central hub of the African slave trade and yet home to one of the largest populations of free people of color in the United States. It is known the world over as a city of leisure, excess, transgression, and corruption as well as booze, music, dancing, and sex. It has come to symbolize in many ways America’s cultural id: counterpoint to the sober Protestant work ethic so central to our self-image and ideology.
Many American writers of varying degrees of reputation, success, and fame were born in, settled in, or temporarily made a home in New Orleans: George Washington Cable, Lafcadio Hearn, Alice Nelson Dunbar, O. Henry, Kate Chopin, Lillian Hellman, Sherwood Anderson, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Walker Percy, John Kennedy Toole, Anne Rice, Moira Crone, Fatima Shaik, Poppy Z. Brite. Many outsiders have also written about the city: Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Ellen Gilchrist, Carl Sandburg, Robert Penn Warren, Ishmael Reed, Mary Robison, Mat Johnson. The prodigious literary production centered on and inspired by the city of New Orleans is not uniformly Gothic, but much of it is. It revisits and interrogates past violence, dramatizing the ways in which the dark legacies of the past overshadow the sunny prospects of the present. It creates an atmosphere of incarceration, isolation, vulnerability, lack of control. It explores both the excitement and the terror of transgressing boundaries (of culture, class, race, gender, and sex) and breaking taboos.
This paper proposes to examine Gothic (or Gothic-tinged) works centered in or around New Orleans in order to identify the peculiar nature and characteristic themes of the New Orleans Gothic, especially as they relate to its unique geography, history, and culture. Among the literature under consideration will be works by such authors as George Washington Cable, Lafcadio Hearn, Kate Chopin, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Walker Percy, Anne Rice, Moira Crone, Fatima Shaik, and Poppy Z. Brite.
Name: James Uden
Institution: Boston University
Abstract: “Roman Gothic: Horace Walpole and the Transhistorical Grotesque”
The Roman treasures that Walpole catalogues in his description of Strawberry Hill seem strikingly paradoxical and bizarre: they are either arranged into strange combinations (two charred dates dug up from Herculaeum, kept in a precious porcelain jar), or they highlight sinister or fantastical strains in Roman culture (a bust of the tyrannical emperor Caligula, a child’s sarcophagus decorated with griffins). This paper takes a new look at the incorporation of Roman material into Walpole’s influential Gothic works, The Castle of Otranto and The Mysterious Mother, arguing that Walpole’s desire to rearrange Classical allusions in paradoxical and perverse ways is already evident in these earlier texts. The title-page of Otranto’s second edition bears a quotation from the Ars Poetica of the Roman poet Horace, but Walpole has detached the quote from its context and rewritten a crucial word, so that Horace seems to be endorsing rather than critiquing the artist’s grotesque stitching together of inapposite parts. A long speech in The Mysterious Mother is imitated from the grim, violent first century A.D. Roman epic by Lucan, but the words of the virtuous Stoic Cato in Lucan’s poem are shockingly given to the character of the incestuous Countess. Ultimately, I argue, Walpole’s fractured and paradoxical allusions to the Classical world audaciously reconfigure the monstrous elements of these ancient Roman poems as an origin point for his ‘modern’ Gothic stories. Walpole’s Gothic was never an outright rejection of Classical authors and ideas, but was rather a bold – and grotesque – rearrangement of them.
Name: Deimantas Valanciunas
Institution: Vilnius University Lithuania
Abstract: “Dark tales from Bollywood: Indian gothic horror cinema and the nation‘s Others”
Indian popular cinema, despite often treated as certain ‘omnibus’ melodrama-type genre has an engagement with darker and more mysterious topics since the 1949 film The Palace (Mahal). Horror as a film genre in India, however, was born with the Ramsay family production in the late 1970s and retained a stable position throughout the 1980s. Cheaply-made Ramsay brothers’ B-grade horror films circulated at the margins of mainstream Bollywood; however, the films drew large audiences to the cinema halls in smaller urban centres and towns.
The Ramsay brothers’ horror films are famous for borrowing many narrative and visual elements from the western horror fiction (both literature and film), adapting them to vernacular mythologies and Indian cinematic conventions, creating a distinctive cultural hybrid – the Indian gothic. Therefore the aim of this paper is to trace some of the most common European gothic tropes and investigate their migration, adaptation and transformation in Indian cultural and cinematic landscape, especially in relation to the intersecting discourses of gender, sexuality, religion, nationalism, neocolonialism and the problematic zeitgeist of the late 1980s and early 1990s in India. The paper argues that the re-invention of the conventional western gothic imagery in the horror films of the Ramsay brothers serves as a certain platform to negotiate, transgress and subvert a number of tensions, fears and / or desires - transforming the private into public and the personal into national.
Name: Justin Van Wormer
Institution: Graduate Center, City University of New York US
Abstract: “The Sublime, Terrible Seas, and Poe’s Antarctic”
In this paper I analyze Edgar Allan Poe’s “MS Found in a Bottle” (alongside the more famous Antarctic trip in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket) and find a deep concern for the preservation of the irrational, sublime, and spectral against the pounding tides of “physical philosophy” incident to the rise of US imperial power. Drawing on recent scholarship in hemispheric and oceanic studies, I interrogate Poe’s use of the sea and the Antarctic as a space for the grotesque and sublime.
“MS Found in a Bottle” reveals Poe’s strong feeling for the opposition of rationalism and the sublime. The story starts by drawing lines – of trade routes, philosophies, horizons, and sailor’s bodies on deck – yet ends with the collapse of these boundaries. The world remains strange despite the lines drawn on the globe by commerce and empire. Poe revels in a gothic ambiguity of narrative. The presence of the sublime lurking on the edges of the rational horizon reveals the real deficiencies of a systematized world. Poe both poses and challenges an imperial biopolitics, advocates and ironizes a gothic adventure narrative. Elena Glasberg has written that, “As the blank space on the imperial map...Antarctica ensures both the future and the end of the mapping of imperial empire.” Journeying to Antarctica, toward an unmapped place, aboard a ghost ship, Poe’s story opposes attempts to render the ocean and the ice legible through narrative, or epistemologies of commerce and empire.
Name: Sandra Casanova Vizcaíno
Institution: Binghamton University -State University of New York
Abstract: Wandering Clowns: Cuban Gothic Artists in Abilio Estévez's Los palacios distantes
In his 2002 novel, Los palacios distantes (Distant Palaces), Cuban writer Abilio Estévez (1953) depicts an old and grotesque clown, Don Fuco, wandering the city of Havanna looking for antiques and other objects that he stores inside the ruins of an old theatre. The ageless clown -both decadent and decayed like a ruined flâneur- finds Victorio, a homeless homosexual, and brings him into the theatre to train him as a clown. Victorio will become the heir of Don Fuco's mission: to collect and recollect the pieces of Cuba's history; to contain the whole city of Havana inside the old theatre; and to transform the theatre into a sort of cemetery where the ghosts of Cuba's past and present coexist. In this presentation, I will analyze the topic of the Gothic wanderer in a particular genre: the Künstlerroman, or artist novel. By presenting the Gothic wanderer as an old and grotesque artist, Estévez manages to critically reflect upon the idea of the artist in the Cuba of the Special Period.
Name: Elizabeth Way
Institution: Wake Forest University, North Carolina, US
Abstract: “The Novel Dracula; or, How the Count Won’t Be Shorthanded”
Count Dracula hails from Transylvania, a locale etymologically rooted in the migratory, the transitional, the trans-. Indeed, Transylvania’s etymology of “beyond the forest” or “on the other side of the woods,” works to underscore the paradoxical nowhere-ness location of Dracula. His ontology is “beyond” or “on the other side” or “across”: an origin both geographically and linguistically always/already elusive and shifty—there but not there, and made while always being made. Such linguistic roots point to the literary fusions at the heart of Dracula whereby the main characters seek to inscribe their experiences of Dracula (as Dracula) in all kinds of hybrid communication forms: shorthand, typewriting, telegrams, and phonographic recordings. While many critics already rightly argue for these new Victorian technologies as vampiric themselves and revelatory of a monstrous modernity, I want to focus on the hybridic, migratory inscriptions and communications that transmogrify Dracula by attempting to arrest and hold him while they inevitably reflect his transitory-ness. More than just reproducing the Count in words, these media amalgams thrive on migration, mobility, and the passing among many hands and across different landscapes: the more the Crew of Light tries to contain him, the more he circulates. The more inscriptions made about Dracula in an effort to stop him, the more these hybrid technologies—Namely short/hand, type/writer, tele/gram, and phono/graph—fail to do so. Shorthand is one indication of this failure; notably shorthand does not shorten the Name Dracula: one hears all of the word’s sounds and so one transcribes all the letters. If Dracula is the text of, about, or beyond Dracula, achieved by means of substitution, linguistic metamorphosis, and contraction, all of which shape-shift the information about the Count, then he is the text; Dracula is Dracula the novel in all his hybrid incarnations.
As much as the Crew of Light has tried to kill and disempower Dracula, he fully authors his own text; the vampire himself and the texts about him become interchangeably and inescapably his own ur-text that forever bottoms out to another layer or to another script that seems fragilely contained in/as the novel. That Dracula is a novel—something generic and something new—points to the crux of his existence as always/already made while continuously being written, translated, and transcribed. These first-person accounts mediated by technology and machines (so at odds with the serendipitously-discovered anonymous manuscripts of prior Gothic tales) are also hybrids and “trans” in nature—they move across time and space, use symbols and substitutions, and re-script meaning. These documents make their mark on the Crew of Light in an analogous way that Dracula leaves his wounds on his victims: while the original scars may have disappeared, the revenants of vampire and testimony remain. And, isn’t analogy the best we can hope for with such a posthuman being? This outpouring of written and verbal texts constantly translated, transcribed, and ultimately transformed into one homogenous text offers a hyperbolic response to Dracula’s vamping; it is a kind of overkill—which places it squarely within the larger Gothic tradition while also writing something new: the novel Dracula/Dracula.
Name: Christopher Weimer
Institution: Oklahoma State University
Abstract: “Bonhote’s Spanish Prisoner: Calderón’s Life Is a Dream and Bungay Castle (1796)”
The Gothic predilection for Spanish settings, characters, and plot fixtures is well-known to readers. While the catalogue of lurid tropes derived from the Black Legend receives substantial scholarly commentary, less attention is paid to British Gothic writers’ knowledge and reinscription of texts originating in Spain. This paper will explore the intertextualities between Elizabeth Bonhote’s 1796 Bungay Castle and Life Is a Dream (La vida es sueño, 1635) by Pedro Calderón de la Barca, the playwright whose death in 1681 marked the end of Spain’s literary Golden Age. Like Calderón’s intrepid heroine Rosaura, Bonhote’s protagonist Roseline discovers the prison of an heir to a noble title, wrongly believed dead and secretly confined since early childhood, deprived of all human companionship save that of one loyal family retainer. Rosaura and Roseline serve as the instruments of the prisoners’ liberations and restorations to their birthrights, and the prisoners in turn deliver their rescuers from their own marital plights. This study will briefly consider the possible paths of direct and indirect textual transmission from Calderón’s play to Bonhote’s novel, then detail the numerous parallels between the works. Most important, however, is the question of how Bonhote appropriated and reinscribed the elements of Calderón’s Counter-Reformation political and philosophical drama in Bungay Castle, a work steeped in Gothic Romanticism and also one in which its female author rejected the genre’s dominant gender codes.
Name: Maisha Wester
Abstract: “Haitian Horrors/ Global Economies: The Racial Origins of the Modern Zombie “
In the recent decade the zombie has become a favorite monster around the world. Many critics attribute the zombie’s rise in popularity to the recent global recession. However, the zombie “reveals much about the way we code inferior subjects unworthy of life,” especially in the monster’s first appearances. Contemporary uses of the zombie are cannibalizations of the monster’s earliest figurations. The zombie—a creature born out of Haitian mythology—initially signified slave labor post-emancipation and, more specifically, U.S. Imperialist conquests of the Island. In texts such as Magic Island and films such as White Zombie, the zombie recalls U.S. misuse of Haitian labor in service to capitalist ventures.
Thus this presentation explores the earliest metaphorical uses of the zombie as a figure rationalizing modern enslavement in the service of Imperial conquest. Films such as I Walked with a Zombie depict the zombie master—legible as a figure of Colonial/ Imperial conquest—as monstrous, not the zombie; these films thus suggest a pre-globalized world already uneasy about capitalist expansion and its connection to systems of racial enslavement. We can see the hauntings of this earlier narrative in contemporary figurations of the zombie. Most importantly, I will argue that the metaphor of the zombie is most radical not because its Marxist articulations of the disenfranchisement of the Post-Modern subject, but because of the ways the monster itself refers back to a radical (Haitian) history in which the zombie is a revolutionary subject capable of overthrowing systems of domination despite its dehumanized condition.
Name: John Whatley
Institution: Simon Fraser University
Abstract: “Shelley Migrates the Gothic”
I will be tracing the migrations into later work of a genre that Shelley, after an early fascination, severely disavowed, the gothic novel. My claim is that the imagery of aristocratic duplicity is Gothicized through the curve of Shelley’s work. It can be found clearly in his last poem, The Triumph of Life, but also in some of Shelley’s earlier and middle works long after his gothic phase was supposedly over. It is noticeable as a reworking and transference (Hogle) of the earlier fascinations with gothic spiritism (Zastrozzi, St. Irvyne or the Rosicrucian) to a mature, rhetorical use in which the uncanny and supernatural are remediated to show up the ignorance, corruption, and cruelty of inherited power and social position. To this end I will be canvassing the earlier gothic novels, and works like The Cenci, Alastor, Prometheus Unbound, Epipsychidion, The Wandering Jew, Ghasta or the Avenging Demon, Ozymandias, The Triumph of Life, plus some of Shelley’s essays.
Shelley’s gothic migration can be found as subtext of many of his earlier and later works. I will use a trenchant and liminal gothic figure, Iago of Othello, as a way of reading this migration. Aristocratic duplicity emerges as Shelley’s other—his villain and gothic dark self—a self he never tires of unmasking--and a self in which he may be ambiguously involved. Stephen Greenblatt’s theory of Iago’s self-fashioning maps well against the darker sides of a number of Shelley’s aristocratic figures, like Cenci, the Shape in the chariot, and other identities of power he knew well, and strove, both successfully and not so, to undermine. I will discuss whether the gothic may be his favourite and long term method of placing the vagaries and powers of monarchy, militarism and class positioning within a continuing and progressive ideal of social advance.
Name: Kim Wheatley
Institution: The College of William and Mary
Abstract: “Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Gothic Wandering Jew”
My paper will analyze Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Gothicization of the Wandering Jew, cursed to roam the earth forever as punishment for taunting Christ. Shelley became so obsessed with the immortal outcast that his editors call the Jew his “personal surrogate” (Reiman and Fraistat, 183). He portrayed the legendary pariah in five different poems, including most notably his long Gothic-inflected poem, The Wandering Jew, or The Victim of the Eternal Avenger (1810). I will argue that although Shelley creates versions of both the repentant (anti-Semitic) and the defiant (anti-Christian) Wandering Jew, in this text the Jew’s religious message and his suicidal psychology are alike muffled by the poet’s exploration of the powerful dictates of the Gothic genre.
The Wandering Jew had been depicted repeatedly in European folklore prior to his migration into British Gothic fiction in the shape of a mysterious exorcist in Shelley’s chief source, Matthew Lewis’s The Monk (1796). In The Monk, the Wandering Jew seems Satanic, yet helpfully exorcises the spectral Bleeding Nun. These mixed signals carry over into Shelley’s Wandering Jew, which promotes the Jew to its central character and gives him a (doomed) love-interest, revisions that carry some pitfalls. Shelley’s poem foregrounds the difficulty of writing a narrative about a person who (a) is immortal and (b) wants to be dead. Yet the self-conscious Gothicism of the poem looms larger than the protagonist’s woes, raising questions not so much about the agency of the eternal avenger (God and/or Satan?) as about the agencies of Gothic form.
Reiman, Donald and Neil Fraistat, eds. The Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Vol. I. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.
Name: Anne Williams
Institution: University of Georgia
Abstract: “‘Celadon’: A Case Study”
Horace Walpole died at the age of eighty, leaving behind a plethora of evidence about himself as author of numerous books, thousands of familiar letters, and of Strawberry Hill, his decidedly eccentric “castle.” Yet Ketton-Cremer’s life of Walpole (1940) remains the standard. It is a careful, scholarly exposition of the facts, but makes no attempt to interpret Walpole’s accomplishments in light of his experiences. It glosses over his emotional ties to men and the rumour (vigorously denied by W.S. Lewis) that he was not Sir Robert’s son. I propose, however, that if we could transport Horace to Sigmund Freud’s consulting room, the inventor of psychoanalysis would diagnose him unequivocally as a hysteric.
At Eton, Horace chose “Celadon,” the shepherd-hero of d’Urfé’s pastoral romance (1627) as the first of his many disguises. His bitter quarrel with Thomas Gray at the end of their Grand Tour remains unexplained and marks a change in the trajectory of his life. Returning to England, Horace embarked on a lifelong project of defending Sir Robert’s accomplishments and Lady Walpole’s virtue. For fifty-five years he was engaged in building a flagrantly public self that as flagrantly enclosed secrets. His attacks of gout were possibly psychosomatic, and the works of the 1760’s (Otranto, Richard III, Mysterious Mother) can be read as exercises in self-analysis, displaced explorations of a not-so-secretly illegitimate son’s family romance. At birth, Horace was condemned to lifelong masquerade as a Walpole, a crucial key to understanding the Gothic tradition he initiated.
Name: Judith Wilt
Institution: Boston College
Abstract: "The War on Zombies: Viral Mobilities"
Preparing for my upcoming Horror Stories course I came to study more seriously what Fred Botting has called the key “post-millennial monster,” the post-human as “zombie negativity.” My paper would in this context take brief note of the fear of dispossession/desire to possess laid out in psychological terms in Joyce Carol Oates’ serial-killer novel Zombie (1995) and in political terms in Amy Wilentz’s NYTimes op-ed “A Zombie is a Slave Forever” (2012). Other familiar motifs are the zombie as a figure of consumption, either robotic or enraged, and the zombie as a “viral” figure.
All these have sparked my interest in fictional treatments of the “war on zombies,” evident in my three chosen texts. Max Brooks’ World War Z (2006) offers a panorama of global infection, political cover-up, and the discovery that no mobilization will defeat this mobile enemy, only quarantine will. Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies (2010) imagines a romantic self-rehumanization of the free ranging zombie over against the military self-quarantine that id zombiefying human enclaves. Alden Bell’s The Reapers are the Angels (2010)is a superbly imagined “road” novel lit by flashes of extreme violence and poetic reflection, respectful of the plight of its roaming zombies and its paralyzed soldier, but invested more in the nomad freedom of its capable girl-protagonist. Given the conference’s theme and its location I would draw attention to the interesting argument about why zombies have recently become so “fast,” and to the surprising role of Canada in Z and Reapers, and would end by inviting a debate about the March 2014 “The Grove” episode of The Walking Dead, whose girl protagonist was killed for arguing that zombies are “just like us….sometimes they don’t have to be killed.”
Name: Caroline Winter
Institution: University of Victoria Canada
Abstract: “Exchange as Migration in Mary Shelley’s ‘Transformation’”
This paper argues that Mary Shelley’s Gothic tale “Transformation” works through the complex relationship between an individual and the economic forces he or she participates in and is subject to. The protagonist, Guido, squanders his family fortune and is therefore estranged from his fiancée, Juliet. Penniless and desperate, he sells his body to a mysterious, misshapen creature for three days in exchange for treasure. Through this economic exchange, the creature possesses Guido’s body not in the sexual sense, but literally: the creature’s mind—his self—migrates to Guido’s body, and Guido’s to his, as if their bodies were suits of clothes. The creature is an ambiguous figure, but seems a physical manifestation of Guido’s corruption by luxury and dissipation. The creature’s behaviour when he occupies Guido’s body, however, complicates this interpretation: rather than continuing Guido’s spending spree, he facilitates Guido’s migration back into his own body, as well as his soci+al position and the arms of Juliet. Further complicating the tale’s critique of luxury is its origin as a piece written for publication in The Keepsake, a literary annual luxuriously bound in red dress silk, with gilt edges and numerous engravings. The tale’s relationship with its print context—an annual designed for conspicuous consumption—echoes its ambivalence toward the autonomy of the individual in the face of economic forces that determines one’s fortune, social standing, and romantic fate.
Name: Katherine Wise
Institution: University of Montana US
Abstract: “Expressing the Anxieties of English Colonial India in the American South: Bithia Mary Croker's ‘The North Verandah’”
Bithia Mary Croker, who was part of the English Colonization of India, set many of her ghost stories there, with a few exceptions, including “The North Veranadah,” which takes place on a plantation in the American South. Croker utilizes this setting to express the instability of her position within the British Colonial project, by refracting it through the then recently abolished institution of slavery in America, which she places as a failed colonial project. Her story relies on an enlightened outsider, the English Mr. Dormer, who has access to the plantation's gory past. She draws upon and directly references the Gothic elements of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, yet significantly alters the race and gender of the characters. Instead of a violent and lascivious slave master, like Stowe's Legree, Croker features an exceptionally cruel and coldly capitalistic woman, Mrs. Taylor at the helm. Stowe's pious and forbearing Uncle Tom, Croker describes a simian, blood thirsty, unNamed slave. Croker vividly and graphically depicts the woman's death at the hands of a slave she has rendered in savage terms, while keeping the terrors Mrs. Taylor inflicted at a distance. Croker's tale is ultimately an expression of her own anxieties over the state of British rule in India at the turn of the century, as she utilizes the cultural ascriptions of race, nationality and gender alter the meaning of American slavery and its cruelty, to critically examine her own situation in the English colonial project. Croker's story reflects both her awareness of problems of imperialism, even as she relies upon the prejudices that allowed it to flourish.
Name: Gina Wisker
Institution: University of Brighton UK
Abstract: “Cockroaches, Crocodiles and Ghosts: Uncharted Territories and Reclaimed Energies in Malaysian Gothic”
Why not develop a certain degree of rage against the history that has written such an abject script for you that you are silenced? (Spivak and Gunew, 1986, p.137)
Postcolonial spaces and places are haunted by colonial and imperial histories of promise and rift, betrayal, imprisonment. For once colonised people the silencing and misinterpretations lead to ghosted presences, a parallel universe. In Malaysian postcolonial Gothic, latent alternative mythologies and versions surface in opposition to colonially complicit master narratives and the energies of the kampongs, jungle and suppressed histories re-emerge.
This paper focuses on reconfigurations of histories, narratives and identities beginning with the postcolonial horrors of Ann Goring’s ‘Hantu Hantu’(1989), mixing romantic narrative and disgust, decay. Beth Yahp’s The Crocodile fury (1992) is set in liminal spaces haunted by colonial theft and abusive power. Alternative, wild energies leak through imposed gender, linguistic and colonial controls in the form of jungle bandits, crocodile fury, and the bondmaid’s granddaughter who shape-shifts, identifying a mythic heritage with the rich man’s, stolen sea-spirit lover. Tash Aw’s The Harmony Silk Factory (2005), like shifting disappearing and reappearing islands in uncharted territories, shows that truth is volatile, political and personal histories shift through lies, deceit, pretence, myth, constantly being reconstituted. ‘Hantu Hantu’ leaves us with continual haunting horror and threat, hangover of colonial corruption and Otherising, while the other texts offer forms of clarity, rescripting and agency.
Name: Angela Wright
Institution: University of Sheffield, UK
Abstract: “‘Moving Forests’: Gothic migrations in ‘Mont Blanc’ and ‘The Triumph of Life’ by P.B. Shelley”
In discussing the young P.B. Shelley’s love of Gothic authorship from Shakespeare to Charlotte Dacre, Jerrold E Hogle has referred to the poet’s deep intertextuality, arguing that the ‘empirical impressions reveal’ ‘vestiges and ruins from which former truths and fulfilments are receding even as we gaze’. In itself, this mode of interpreting the world seems profoundly Gothic, but nowhere is this mode of interpreting the world, my paper will argue, more forceful than in Shelley’s reimagining of the forest in his poetry. Taking as its starting point Emily’s ascent towards the castle in Ann Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho, my paper will examine how Radcliffe configures the forest surrounding the castle as one form of nature surrounding and concealing a manmade ruin. From this argument upon nature and culture, my paper will then proceed to examine how Shelley reappropriates the imagery of the forest in his early fiction (Zastrozzi) and in his poetry, firstly in ‘Mont Blanc’ of 1816, and then in his exploration of forests in ‘The Triumph of Life’.
Name: Bruce Wyse
Institution: Wilfrid Laurier University Canada
Abstract: “The Reflux of Imperial Horrors and the Migration of the Mutilated God in Richard Marsh’s The Joss”
Following on the success of The Beetle, Richard Marsh’s The Joss (1901) is an imperial gothic novel in which the dreadful mysteries of the empire migrate back to the metropole. Although it is most strikingly a demotic reconfiguration of Heart of Darkness, the novel also charts a passage through three distinct modalities of gothic. The first two parts of the composite narrative offer a pastiche of eighteenth-century gothic (transplanted to modern London), the middle section of the novel shifts to an urban gothic criminal plot informed by a series of mysterious encounters with strangers, and the penultimate section of the plot analeptically discloses that the previous mysteries and terrors have been underpinned and driven by a bizarre scenario set in Indo-China.
The novel’s deferred kernel of mystery concerns the criminal and adventurer Ben Batters who, like Kurtz has “taken a high seat amongst the devils of the land.” In pointed contrast to Conrad’s figure, Batters has been transformed by the indigenous people themselves into a hideous god, “the great Joss,” and an unearthly “mockery of a man,” through a process of disfigurement, mutilation and torture. When the ravaged Batters engineers his escape from his equivocal position as an imprisoned god, the fanatical priests of this fantastic cult follow him to the other side of the globe in a variation on the plot of The Moonstone. Marsh’s narrative, however, turns the imperial agent himself into a sacred artefact or rather an artificial supernatural being fashioned through incomprehensibly alien, hallowing violence.
Name: Edward Yang
Institution: Claremont Graduate University
Abstract: “Experimentation in Horace Walpole's the Castle of Otranto: Unnatural Spectacles Responding to Unnatural Acts”
In the prefaces of The Castle of Otranto, Horace Walpole states that the novel is his attempt to blend the ancient and modern romance. Although Walpole attributes the work’s origins to romance, recent scholarship points to the theatre as another source of influence. Despite assuming the significance of this relationship, there has not been enough scholarship examining the influence of theatre in Walpole’s novel. In my paper I will argue that the use of pity and the deus ex machina are two theatrical elements that Walpole heavily relies upon. Walpole states that the engine of his novel is contrasting terror with pity. This contrast is created by the word unnatural. Unnatural holds several connotations throughout this text: the unnatural act and the unnatural spectacle. The interplay between these two forms is mediated through Manfred. During each moment in which Manfred attempts to transgress natural law, and perform an unnatural act, the reader is moved to pity while witnessing a character potentially falling victim to it. In this moment, the unnatural spectacle, such as a ghost, functions as a deus ex machina by creating terror in Manfred and preventing him from committing the act. It is this interplay between the reader’s pity and the character’s terror, the unnatural act and the unnatural spectacle, that serves as the novel’s engine. I believe my efforts at creating connections between Walpole and the theatre will illustrate that his goal for the Gothic novel is to provide readers with the experience of watching a tragedy.
Name: Jolene Zigarovich (panel chair)
Institution: University of Northern Iowa
Abstract: “Transgothic Desire in Charlotte Dacre’s Zofloya”
Charlotte Dacre’s Zofloya explores the Gothic fascination with the unknown, responding to the limits of reason. The Gothic unknown is typically represented by the supernatural and monstrous. The aim of my talk is to uncover the ways in which the female Gothic depicts the mystery of and anxieties about gender and sexuality. Specifically, I will argue that these anxieties about a post-Enlightenment sexuality and shifting gender norms are often represented by sexual desires and acts that deviate from cultural norms and transgress taboos. Reading the Gothic novel as a disruption of male and female gothic formations, as a transgenre that embeds explorations of transgender, I will argue that Dacre’s Victoria di Loredani is a transitioning figure and Zofloya, straddling Enlightenment and Romantic Gothic, transgresses limits of
desire in response to the transformation of sex into modern discourse. While the fragmented form of the gothic narrative represents the breakdown of social order and status quo, Gothic bodies also disrupt stable notions of what it is to be human. Part of this is how to be human; the Gothic body’s transgressive sexual acts (such as incest) are played out in order for heteronormative sexuality to be restored in the end. Zofloya is no different in this, but what I do recognize as unique is the polymorphous, transformative body; one that we later see in Gothic non-human bodies such as the vampire. By the novel’s third volume, the moor Zofloya’s size has increased; he becomes a “towering figure” (190), “so gigantic” that he seems “increased to a height scarcely human” (191). While shapeshifting is de rigueur for supernatural beings, especially Satan, I wish to emphasize Victoria’s physical transformation. Only with the assistance of Zofloya’s potions does Victoria’s body morph into Lilla’s in order to trick Henriquez into having sex with her. Yet Victoria’s own shifting body size and skin color are rare supernatural occurrences for a non-supernatural character. I am suggesting that Victoria’s characterization pushes boundaries beyond the interracial or nymphomaniac; that her discursive and physical performance dismantles stereotypes and redefines the female self. In my reading, the novel offers a female subjectivity that moves toward the masculine without offering any opportunity for reversal or permanent integration; Victoria’s transition creates a new subjective space (though at the cost of her sexuality and eventually her life). Drugs and potions may temporarily transform the masculinized Victoria back into a feminine ideal, allowing her to “perform” gender, but by the novel’s end, her transition is complete and irreversible.
Name: Sue Zlosnik
Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University UK
Abstract: “Migratory States in the Gothic Fiction of Hilary Mantel”
Despite the recent acclamation of Hilary Mantel’s historical novels, her Gothic fiction has been relatively neglected. These earlier works return repeatedly to those liminal places where the apparently stable boundaries of material experience threaten to dissolve and the subject hovers in a migratory state between the everyday world and somewhere (or something) else. Focusing on three novels - Fludd (1989); An Experiment in Love (1995) and Beyond Black (2005) - this paper will discuss Mantel’s use of the Gothic to represent, sometimes comically, this unstable condition and its relationship to its cultural moment.
All three novels are set in a carefully detailed time and place: Fludd (1989) in a grim Derbyshire village in the ’50s; An Experiment in Love (1995) mainly in ’70s London and Beyond Black (2005) in the drab world of the London periphery in the late ’90s. All, however, feature Gothic figures that represent the migratory state of their protagonists. The eponymous Fludd may or may not be a reincarnation of the sixteenth-century alchemist of the same Name, a monstrous female doppelgänger looms large in the 1995 novel and a host of entities from the spirit world, often as malevolent ‘airside’ as they were in life, haunt the psychic in Beyond Black. Although in some respects, Mantel draws on the tradition of Female Gothic, no rationalisation of the uncanny is to be found. In all three novels, resolution is achieved not through stasis but by a migratory transformation.
Name: William Dow (Bill Lee in Stargate, Dr. Charles Burks in The XFiles), actor and instructor at The Art Institute of Vancouver
ROUNDTABLE: Vancouver Gothic Film
Facilitator: William Dow (Bill Lee in Stargate, Dr. Charles Burks in The XFiles), actor and instructor at The Art Institute of Vancouver;
William Dow, The Art Institute of Vancouver Canada
Karen Budra, Langara College Canada
Alexandra Lykissas, Indiana University of Pennsylvania US
William B Davis, (cigarette smoking man of the X-files) Author: founder Vancouver’s The William Davis Centre for Actor’s Study. Author, Where there’s Smoke: Musings of a cigarette Smoking Man: A Memoir
Name: Charles L. Crow
Institution: Bowling Green State University (Emeritus)
Facilitator Roundtable Discussion: “Migrations of Southern Gothic
The South is the region most associated with the Gothic in the United States, and indeed "Southern Gothic" has become an overused term that needs to be reconsidered and critically refreshed. The forthcoming Handbook of Southern Gothic, edited by Susan Castillo Street and Charles L. Crow, (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2016) is such a project.
The roundtable discussion Southern Gothic, moderated by Charles L. Crow (Bowling Green State University, Emeritus), will include the following scholars who are contributors to the Palgrave-Macmillan Handbook:
Maisha Wester, Indiana University: firstname.lastname@example.org,
Dara Downey, University College, Dublin: email@example.com
Sherry Truffin, Campbell University, North Carolina: firstname.lastname@example.org
Peggy Dunn Bailey, Henderson State University, Arkansas
Carol Margaret Davison, University of Windsor: email@example.com
Bill Marshall, University of Stirling, Scotland UK firstname.lastname@example.org
This panel will discuss trans-mobilities in Gothic literature. The panelists will explore Gothic as a disruption (and not a delineation) of traditional Gothic binaries (such as “female” v. “male” theories of the Gothic) in order to illuminate the perpetual movement and shifting of genders, bodies and locales. Transgothic better helps us understand the genre as a perpetual mobile one that actively crosses boundaries and margins, creating and marking various forms of transitions and migrations in its narrative path. If we invoke Susan Stryker’s definition of transgender from Transgender History, as “people who cross over the boundaries constructed by their culture to define and contain” gender (Stryker 1), we can open up a discourse not only about the ways in which Gothic characters cross gender boundaries, but also the ways in which gothic fiction crosses, intersects, and troubles genre boundaries as well.
Name: Jolene Zigarovich (panel chair)
Institution: University of Northern Iowa
Abstract: “Transgothic Desire in Charlotte Dacre’s Zofloya”
Charlotte Dacre’s Zofloya explores the Gothic fascination with the unknown, responding to the limits of reason. The Gothic unknown is typically represented by the supernatural and monstrous. The aim of my talk is to uncover the ways in which the female Gothic depicts the mystery of and anxieties about gender and sexuality. Specifically, I will argue that these anxieties about a post-Enlightenment sexuality and shifting gender norms are often represented by sexual desires and acts that deviate from cultural norms and transgress taboos. Reading the Gothic novel as a disruption of male and female gothic formations, as a transgenre that embeds explorations of transgender, I will argue that Dacre’s Victoria di Loredani is a transitioning figure and Zofloya, straddling Enlightenment and Romantic Gothic, transgresses limits of desire in response to the transformation of sex into modern discourse. While the fragmented form of the gothic narrative represents the breakdown of social order and status quo, Gothic bodies also disrupt stable notions of what it is to be human. Part of this is how to be human; the Gothic body’s transgressive sexual acts (such as incest) are played out in order for heteronormative sexuality to be restored in the end. Zofloya is no different in this, but what I do recognize as unique is the polymorphous, transformative body; one that we later see in Gothic non-human bodies such as the vampire. By the novel’s third volume, the moor Zofloya’s size has increased; he becomes a “towering figure” (190), “so gigantic” that he seems “increased to a height scarcely human” (191). While shapeshifting is de rigueur for supernatural beings, especially Satan, I wish to emphasize Victoria’s physical transformation. Only with the assistance of Zofloya’s potions does Victoria’s body morph into Lilla’s in order to trick Henriquez into having sex with her. Yet Victoria’s own shifting body size and skin color are rare supernatural occurrences for a non-supernatural character. I am suggesting that Victoria’s characterization pushes boundaries beyond the interracial or nymphomaniac; that her discursive and physical performance dismantles stereotypes and redefines the female self. In my reading, the novel offers a female subjectivity that moves toward the masculine without offering any opportunity for reversal or permanent integration; Victoria’s transition creates a new subjective space (though at the cost of her sexuality and eventually her life). Drugs and potions may temporarily transform the masculinized Victoria back into a feminine ideal, allowing her to “perform” gender, but by the novel’s end, her transition is complete and irreversible.
Name: Enrique Ajuria Ibarra
Institution: Universidad de las Américas Puebla
Abstract: PANEL: Latin American Gothic: Transposition, Hybridization, Tropicalization
This panel aims to trace mobilizations and transformations of the Gothic in Latin America. These hybrid processes define a Latin American Gothic that is particular to the region but that responds to, and is in constant interaction with, the European and Anglo-Saxon tradition. Literature and film works are presented as ideal spaces to analyze how Gothic is transported and transformed in Latin America, the twists and hybridizations that this aesthetic suffers and the particular monsters that this variant creates in different contexts.
Our panel looks at selected works from Argentina, Colombia, Cuba and Mexico, as it seeks to stress the historical and cultural impact of this mode in different areas of Latin America, tracking the reception and processing of the Gothic in terms of movement, tropicalization and globalization in the nineteenth century, as well as in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Panel chair: Enrique Ajuria Ibarra
Universidad de las Américas Puebla, Mexico
Abstract: “Mexican Gothic? Uncanny Intertextualities in the films of Carlos Enrique Taboada”
Mexican director Carlos Enrique Taboada is mainly known for his films Hasta el viento tiene miedo (1968), El libro de piedra (1969), Más negro que la noche (1975) and Veneno para las hadas (1984). Taboada consistently demonstrates an accomplished knowledge of cinematic horror to present chilling, supernatural narratives. But instead of being straightforward filmic adaptations of classic Gothic texts, Taboada’s works resemble spectral emulations of well-known fictional hauntings. Such is the case of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat” and Más negro que la noche, or Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw and El libro de piedra. Taboada suitably adjusts arguments and offers different plot twists in order to address issues of class and gender by means of fantasy and the uncanny, common features of Anglo-American Gothic fiction that are transported to more localised settings and situations.
Taboada’s gothic approach differs from that of classic Mexican horror cinema or from popular hero El Santo films. Despite evident Gothic incorporations, his films are not examples of what could be termed Mexican Gothic; on the contrary, the cinema of Carlos Enrique Taboada is characterised by a style that responds to more global aspirations, which is reminiscent of Gothic’s constant tendency for intertextuality and hybridization. The purpose of this paper is to explore and question Taboada’s Mexican Gothic, to determine its cultural pertinence in Mexico and to evidence its anticipation of the contemporary, global Gothic flow.