Special Issue "Entangled Narratives: History, Gender and the Gothic"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2018).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Gina Wisker
Website
Guest Editor
Arts and culture, University of Brighton, Brighton, UK
Dr. Anya Heise-von Der Lippe
Website
Guest Editor
Assistant Lecturer, English Literatures and Cultures, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Gothic is a "negative aesthetic" (Botting 2014, 1). It influences a plethora of cultural phenomena from literature and other media to fashion and music. It is also an ever-shifting framework of creative expressions and critical approaches, which has a tendency to reinvent itself and adapt to new cultural circumstances. The Gothic troubles the familiar, replaces complacency with dis-ease, offering rich opportunities for new explorations and expressions of seeming fixities, interpretations of history, certainties of gendered identity. Gothic texts across various cultural and medial platforms are interested in exploring the depths and undersides usually avoided and repressed by mainstream culture, and, consequently offer ample possibilities to problematize concepts of normality and inevitability (among them gender binaries and dominant historical narratives) while providing a platform for writers and ideas from various cultural contexts and margins.

As a literary mode emerging in the late eighteenth century the Gothic has its roots in the period's nostalgic exploration of a glorified historical past. Early examples envisioned an imaginary medieval culture full of secret ancestral guilt and illicit desires while multi-layered Gothic narratives created a space for the exploration of non-binary or non-normative constructions of gender and sexuality.

As a popular form of literary production, occasionally frowned upon from more elevated cultural positions, the Gothic has also offered a home to writers from the margins, and provided a space for formal and aesthetic experiments, which have found expression in a number of hybrid and structurally innovative forms, such as, for example, historical novels, Steampunk graphic novels, Gothic film and television series, games, music and fashion, but also in a complex and historically rooted critical discussion.

For this special issue of Humanities, we invite proposals for essays which reframe the Gothic and its connections to gender and history, initially by problematizing these terms. These could be discussions of either individual texts (including film and other media) or comparisons of a range of texts across time, across space, to identify common themes or structural similarities.

We particularly welcome critical readings of recent texts which use the Gothic to subvert, reframe or undermine traditional figurations of "gender" and "history", as well as explorations of intersectional narratives that arise out of explorations of gender, history and, for instance, race, sexual orientation, disability, or non-normative forms of embodiment that could shed new lights on the critical discussion of the Gothic.

We are interested both in essays which focus on reinventions and contestations in the contemporary period, and those which link and engage with texts across historical periods, and /or cultural contexts. (‘Text’ refers to fiction, poetry, film, graphic novels, game etc.).

Essays could explore, but are not limited to the following questions and issues:

  • How do recent texts use the Gothic to subvert, reframe or undermine traditional figurations of "gender" and "history"?
  • How do Gothic texts problematize notions of history and or gender in specific historical and or cultural moments and /or contexts?
  • How does the Gothic reinvent itself and its concerns and adapt to new cultural circumstances, contexts and issues?
  • How do Gothic texts offer explorations of intersectional narratives that arise out of explorations of gender, history and, for instance, race, sexual orientation, disability, or non-normative forms of embodiment that could shed new lights on the critical discussion of the Gothic.
  • How do Gothic narratives create a space for the exploration of non-binary or non-normative constructions of gender and sexuality?
  • How do Gothic texts deal with nostalgia, historical guilt, hauntings of the past in the present?
  • How do Gothic narratives and texts offer opportunities for expression from hidden places, perspectives, from the margins (gender, culture, history) which fundamentally question established norms and offer new views, new readings?

Please send abstracts of no more than 500 words accompanied by a short bibliography of primary and critical texts to both Gina Wisker and Anya Heise-von der Lippe at [email protected] and [email protected] by 30 April 2018. Finished articles of around 6000 words will be due by 30 November 2018.

Prof. Gina Wisker
Ms. Anya Heise-von der Lippe
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Haunted Oppressors: The Deconstruction of Manliness in the Imperial Gothic Stories of Rudyard Kipling and Arthur Conan Doyle
Humanities 2020, 9(4), 122; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9040122 - 19 Oct 2020
Abstract
Building on Patrick Brantlinger’s description of imperial Gothic fiction as “that blend of adventure story with Gothic elements”, this article compares the narrative formula of adventure fiction to two tales of haunting produced in a colonial context: Rudyard Kipling’s “The Mark of the [...] Read more.
Building on Patrick Brantlinger’s description of imperial Gothic fiction as “that blend of adventure story with Gothic elements”, this article compares the narrative formula of adventure fiction to two tales of haunting produced in a colonial context: Rudyard Kipling’s “The Mark of the Beast” (1890) and Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Brown Hand” (1899). My central argument is that these stories form an antithesis to adventure fiction: while adventure stories reaffirm the belief in the imperial mission and the racial superiority of the British through the display of hypermasculine heroes, Kipling’s and Conan Doyle’s Gothic tales establish connections between imperial decline and masculine failure. In doing so, they destabilise the binary construction between civilised Western self and savage Eastern Other and thus anticipate one of the major concerns of postcolonial criticism. This article proposes, therefore, that it is useful to examine “The Mark of the Beast” and “The Brown Hand” through a postcolonial lens. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entangled Narratives: History, Gender and the Gothic)
Open AccessArticle
Penny Dreadful’s Queer Orientalism: The Translations of Ferdinand Lyle
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030108 - 09 Sep 2020
Abstract
Cultural expressions of Orientalism, the Gothic, and the queer are rarely studied together, though they share uncanny features including spectrality, doubling, and the return of the repressed. An ideal means of investigating these common aspects is neo-Victorian translation, which is likewise uncanny. The [...] Read more.
Cultural expressions of Orientalism, the Gothic, and the queer are rarely studied together, though they share uncanny features including spectrality, doubling, and the return of the repressed. An ideal means of investigating these common aspects is neo-Victorian translation, which is likewise uncanny. The neo-Victorian Gothic cable television series Penny Dreadful, set mostly in fin-de-siècle London, employs the character Ferdinand Lyle, a closeted queer Egyptologist and linguist, to depict translation as both interpretation and transformation, thereby simultaneously replicating and challenging late-Victorian attitudes toward queerness and Orientalism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entangled Narratives: History, Gender and the Gothic)
Open AccessArticle
Dis/Possessing the Polish Past in Marcin Wrona’s Demon
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030059 - 09 Jul 2020
Abstract
The article examines how Marcin Wrona’s Demon (2015) reworks the Jewish myth of a dybbuk in order to discuss how and to what extent a spectral haunting may disrupt acts of collective forgetting, which are in turn fueled by repression, repudiation, and ritualized [...] Read more.
The article examines how Marcin Wrona’s Demon (2015) reworks the Jewish myth of a dybbuk in order to discuss how and to what extent a spectral haunting may disrupt acts of collective forgetting, which are in turn fueled by repression, repudiation, and ritualized violence. A part of a revisionist trend in Polish cinema, Demon upsets the contours of national affiliations, and in doing so comments on the problematic nature of memory work concerning pre- and postwar Polish–Jewish relations. Because the body possessed by a female dybbuk is foreign and male, the film also underlines gendered aspects of possession, silencing, and story-telling. The article draws on Gothic Studies and horror cinema studies as well as Polish–Jewish studies in order to show how by deploying typical possession horror tropes Wrona is able to reveal the true horror—an effective erasure of the Jewish community, an act that needs to be repeated in order for the state of historical oblivion to be maintained. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entangled Narratives: History, Gender and the Gothic)
Open AccessArticle
Something Wicked Westward Goes: Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson’s Californian Uncanny
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020047 - 29 May 2020
Abstract
This essay offers a first critical reading of American author Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson’s short story “The Warlock’s Shadow” (1886), asserting that the tale appropriates historical traumas in order to navigate, and transgress, boundaries of genre and gender. The strangeness of the [...] Read more.
This essay offers a first critical reading of American author Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson’s short story “The Warlock’s Shadow” (1886), asserting that the tale appropriates historical traumas in order to navigate, and transgress, boundaries of genre and gender. The strangeness of the text’s Central Californian setting, to the narrator, precipitates a series of Gothic metamorphoses, and “The Warlock’s Shadow” engages with this transformation via a concept that this essay defines as the “Californian Uncanny”. The latter framework is a result of the specific, layered indigenous and colonial identities of post-Gold Rush California coming into contact with the unstable subjectivities of the Gothic genre. “The Warlock’s Shadow” manifests the Californian Uncanny primarily through the relationship between the home, the environment, and the “unassimilable” inhabitant. Stevenson’s text illustrates, through these images, the ways in which late-nineteenth-century American Gothic fiction has allowed the white feminine subject to negotiate her own identity, complicating the binary distinctions between Self and Other which underpin American colonialism both internally and externally. The phenomenon of the Californian Uncanny in “The Warlock’s Shadow” reflects these gendered and geographical anxieties of American identity, confronting the ghosts of the nation’s westernmost region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entangled Narratives: History, Gender and the Gothic)
Open AccessArticle
A Woman by Nature? Darren Aronofsky’s mother! as American Ecofeminist Gothic
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020045 - 26 May 2020
Abstract
In this essay, I discuss Darren Aronofsky’s 2017 feature film mother! in the context of an intersectional approach to ecofeminism and the American gothic genre. By exploring the histories of ecofeminism, the significances of the ecogothic, and the Puritan origins of American gothic [...] Read more.
In this essay, I discuss Darren Aronofsky’s 2017 feature film mother! in the context of an intersectional approach to ecofeminism and the American gothic genre. By exploring the histories of ecofeminism, the significances of the ecogothic, and the Puritan origins of American gothic fiction, I read the movie as a reiteration of both a global ecophobic and an American national narrative, whose biblical symbolism is rooted in the patriarchal logic of Christian theology, American history, female suffering, and environmental crisis. mother! emerges as an example of a distinctly American ecofeminist gothic through its focus on and subversion of the essentialist equation of women and nature as feminized others, by dipping into the archives of feminist literary criticism, and by raising ecocritical awareness of the dangers of climate change across socio-cultural and anthropocentric categories. Situating Aronofsky’s film within traditions of American gothic and ecofeminist literatures from colonial times to the present moment, I show how mother! moves beyond a maternalist fantasy rooted in the past and towards a critique of the androcentric ideologies at the core of the 21st-century Anthropocene. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entangled Narratives: History, Gender and the Gothic)
Open AccessArticle
Consuming Desire in Under the Skin
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020039 - 04 May 2020
Abstract
Jonathan Glazer’s 2013 film Under the Skin is a Gothicized science fictional narrative about sexuality, alterity and the limits of humanity. The film’s protagonist, an alien female, passing for an attractive human, seduces unwary Scottish males, leading them to a slimy, underwater/womblike confinement [...] Read more.
Jonathan Glazer’s 2013 film Under the Skin is a Gothicized science fictional narrative about sexuality, alterity and the limits of humanity. The film’s protagonist, an alien female, passing for an attractive human, seduces unwary Scottish males, leading them to a slimy, underwater/womblike confinement where their bodies dissolve and nothing but floating skins remain. In this paper, I look at the film’s engagement with the notions of consumption, the alien as devourer trope, and the nature of the ‘other’, comparing this filmic depiction with Michael Faber’s novel on which the film is based. I examine the film’s reinvention of Faber’s novel as a more open-ended allegory of the human condition as always already ‘other’. In Faber’s novel, the alien female seduces and captures the men who are consumed and devoured by an alien race, thus providing a reversal of the human species’ treatment of animals as mere food. Glazer’s film, however, chooses to remain ambiguous about the alien female’s ‘nature’ to the very end. Thus, the film remains a more open-ended meditation about alterity, the destructive potential of sexuality, and the fear of consumption which lies at the heart of the Gothic’s interrogation of porous boundaries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entangled Narratives: History, Gender and the Gothic)
Open AccessArticle
Gender, Genre and Dracula: Joan Copjec and “Vampire Fiction”
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020033 - 13 Apr 2020
Abstract
This article critiques a certain psychoanalytic approach both to the genre of “Vampire Fiction” and the “anxiety” it induces. Joan Copjec’s claim is that these are founded on “nothing”, genre and affect being defined by the “overwhelming presence of the real”, for which [...] Read more.
This article critiques a certain psychoanalytic approach both to the genre of “Vampire Fiction” and the “anxiety” it induces. Joan Copjec’s claim is that these are founded on “nothing”, genre and affect being defined by the “overwhelming presence of the real”, for which all “interpretation […] is superfluous and inappropriate.” It follows that Copjec does not understand the encounter with “the real” staged within Dracula through the words on the page, genre and affect being located instead of either within the bare bones of the textual structure or in an unreadable “aura” surrounding the text. This article counters this understanding through a focus on precise textual formulations within Dracula. It begins by reading in detail linguistic constructions of gendered identities, and the identity “child”; moves to question Copjec’s wider claim that genre transcends textual considerations; and closes with a comparative analysis of Dracula and Rousseau’s Émile, a text that Copjec takes to be its “precise equivalent”, but not because of language. What is finally at stake in this article is whether a detailed engagement with language can be jettisoned when considering constructions of genre and gender. It argues that reintroducing textuality problematises Copjec’s arguments, and the empty identities upon which they are founded. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entangled Narratives: History, Gender and the Gothic)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Corinthian Echoes: Gaiman, Kiernan, and The Dreaming as Sadomodernist Gothic Memoir
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020029 - 04 Apr 2020
Abstract
This article examines Caitlín R. Kiernan’s writing for the DC/Vertigo comic series The Dreaming, a spin-off of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. It places Kiernan’s writing for the series in the wider context of both her prose fictional writings and representations of LGBTQI+ [...] Read more.
This article examines Caitlín R. Kiernan’s writing for the DC/Vertigo comic series The Dreaming, a spin-off of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. It places Kiernan’s writing for the series in the wider context of both her prose fictional writings and representations of LGBTQI+ characters in American comics. It uses Moira Weigel’s concept of “sadomodernism” to characterize Kiernan’s writings, demonstrating how Kiernan’s use of this mode in The Dreaming anticipated signature characteristics of her later fictions. Close reading of selected excerpts from the published comics, as well as Kiernan’s scripts, emails, and editorial remarks alongside the work of queer and trans theorists, including Judith Butler and Jack Halberstam, reveal how groundbreaking Kiernan’s unsettling work with the series was and remains. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entangled Narratives: History, Gender and the Gothic)
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