Gothic-Grotesque of ‘Haunted’: Joyce Carol Oates’ Tales

Gothic-Grotesque of ‘Haunted’: Joyce Carol Oates’ Tales

In a recent review for the New York Times, the critic Laura Miller describes Joyce Carol Oates’ novel ‘Blonde’ as “the most ferocious fictional treatise ever written on the uninhabitable grotesqueness of femininity” (2000, 6). Joyce Carol Oates, for whom “the greatest realities are physical and economic” (Oates qtd. in Allen 1987, 61), has chosen the female body to stage many of the social changes of the last fifty years. Contemporary artistic and academic interest in the body is a consequence of the profound transformations of Western industrial societies brought about by a number of related processes such as the new systems of production, consumption, and distribution which characterize post-Fordism as well as the cultural framework of postmodernism.

Haunting and Spectrality in Neo-Victorian Fiction

Haunting and Spectrality in Neo-Victorian Fiction

In 2010, the year of the book under review, we witnessed the publication of Peter Ackroyd’s ‘The English Ghost: Spectres through Time’; Shane McCorristine’s ‘Spectres of the Self: Thinking about Ghosts and Ghost-Seeing in England, 1750-1920’, and Andrew Smith’s ‘The Ghost Story 1840-1920’. ‘A Cultural History’, as well as the collection of essays edited by María del Pilar Blanco and Esther Peeren, ‘Popular Ghosts: The Haunted Spaces of Everyday Culture’. Similarly, proof of scholarly interest in Neo-Victorian studies is found in the proliferation of critical volumes on the topic, which, in the same year, 2010, included: Marie-Louise Kohlke’s and Christian Gutleben’s ‘Neo- Victorian Tropes of Trauma: The Politics of Bearing After-witness to Nineteenth-Century Suffering’; Louisa Hadley’s ‘Neo-Victorian Fiction and Historical Narrative: The Victorians and Us’; Kate Mitchell’s ‘History and Cultural Memory in Neo-Victorian Fiction: Victorian Afterimages’; and Ann Heilman and Mark Llewellyn’s ‘Neo-Victorianism: The Victorians in the Twenty-First Century, 1999-2009’. Rosario Arias and Patricia Pulham, in ‘Haunting and Spectrality in Neo-Victorian Fiction – Possessing the Past’, have successfully combined these trends by bringing together, in the eight chapters of their volume, scholars who apply a variety of perspectives on the trope of the ghost, and on the notions of haunting and spectrality, to the study of Neo-Victorian texts.

‘Gothicka: Vampire Heroes, Human Gods, and the New Supernatural’

‘Gothicka: Vampire Heroes, Human Gods, and the New Supernatural’

‘Gothicka: Vampire Heroes, Human Gods, and the New Supernatural’ (2013) by Victoria Nelson, is an attempt to explain, as accurately and in the simplest terms as one can, the strange, subtle turn that has occurred with the Gothic in the still budding twenty-first-century. Ultimately, though, ‘Gothicka: Vampire Heroes, Human Gods, and the New Supernatural’ stands uniquely in contrast with the brand of similarly “fresh” Gothic studies treating the fin de siècle during the inauguratory decades of the twentieth-century, works which tended to peer darkly, nostalgically into the past from the safe vantage of the present.

The Cultural Afterlife of the Victorian Freak Show

The Cultural Afterlife of the Victorian Freak Show

The book ‘Neo-Victorian Freakery: The Cultural Afterlife of the Victorian Freak Show’, draws upon work from both freak studies and disability studies to address the issue of bodily difference in a series of nineteenth-century and neo-Victorian texts, an area that has drawn little critical attention in the field of neo-Victorian criticism to date.

‘The Demonology Of William Of Auvergne: By Fire And Sword’

‘The Demonology Of William Of Auvergne: By Fire And Sword’

In many later writings on these topics from the fourteenth and fifteenth-centuries, one finds his name cited as often as, if not more often than, that of his great slightly later contemporary Thomas Aquinas. Yet, while scholarship on Thomas Aquinas and this thought fills bookshelves, the bibliography on William of Auvergne is dramatically thinner. As Thomas B. De Mayo notes, the standard biography of William of Auvergne remains ‘Guillaume d’Auvergne, évêque de Paris (1228–1249): Sa vie et ses ouvrages,’ published in 1880. He receives thirty-five pages in Lynn Thorndike Born’s encyclopedic ‘History of Magic and Experimental Science’ (volume two, 1923), but Thomas B. De Mayo’s book is the first to provide a monographic study of his magical and demonological thought.

Owen Davies’ ‘Grimoires: A History of Magic Books’

Owen Davies’ ‘Grimoires: A History of Magic Books’

Owen Davies is quick to recognize that large areas of magical practice exist entirely in an oral culture. Yet one of the most important points he makes in this book is that “grimoires” are not just rare and expensive tomes available only to the elite, learned magicians. At least from the time of the printing revolution, magic books were making their way into the hands of simple cunning folk (the subject of a previous book by Owen Davies), and this trend only increased as time went on, culminating here in Owen Davies’ fascinating chapter on ‘“pulp magic.” So what is a grimoire, exactly? It does not have to be a long, complex, or erudite text, but neither can it be so simple as a single spell or written amulet. It is, rather, a compilation containing “conjurations and charms, [or] providing instructions on how to make magical objects such as protective amulets and talismans.” Yet not all magical books are grimoires.

A Review Of ‘Alan Moore and the Gothic Tradition’ Book

A Review Of ‘Alan Moore and the Gothic Tradition’ Book

Alan Moore and the Gothic Tradition is a collection that delves into the dark corners of the author’s works and offers fourteen reflections that benefit the field of Gothic, comic books and post-structuralist studies altogether. Each of the book’s four parts — which respectively cover the themes of politics, tropes, inheritance and occult — goes one step further down into Alan Moore’s realm, where self-reflexivity and iconoclast attempts to perturb generic conventions become the norm.

‘Dangerous Bodies: Historicising the Gothic Corporeal’ Book

‘Dangerous Bodies: Historicising the Gothic Corporeal’ Book

A book that comes with endorsements from British author, essayist and playwright Fay Weldon and English Professor David Punter promises to be an exciting addition to the recent rich scholarship on the Gothic. Marie Mulvey-Roberts’ ‘Dangerous Bodies: Historicising the Gothic Corporeal’ does not disappoint. Her stated aim is to look at the relationship of English Gothic literature and German and Anglo-American film to historical horrors, detailing the interaction of fictional terror with real-life nastiness. The book displays a wealth of references and a dazzling array of authorities and scholars, from French philosopher Michel Foucault, also French philosopher Jacques Derrida and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek to writers on specific texts like British author David Punter, Robert Miles, Dale Townshend, and Steven Bruhn.

‘The Gothic And The Carnivalesque In American Culture’ Book

‘The Gothic And The Carnivalesque In American Culture’ Book

The introduction, “Ballyhoo”, serves to define what the carnivalesque adds to American Gothic. In addition to screams and thrills, the Carnival Gothic involves laughter, camp, and mockery. According to Jones, “It is naughty rather than evil” (p. 8). There is also the freedom of being a spectator, of being anonymous in a large crowd. The carnivalesque in American Gothic is about entertainment, not critical analysis, the excitement of walking through a haunted house where a skeleton glides out of the darkness and you jump. The jump is more important than the workings of the zip-line that sent the skeleton soaring your way. The carnivalesque in American Gothic is not reflective or deconstructive, it is immediate and experiential.

Abe Sapien #1: Dark and Terrible part 1

One thing that has always intrigued me about the works of Mike Mignola is that while Hellboy and the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense are entrenched in the supernatural realm of otherworldly horrors, the majority of stories do not play out with the trappings of the horror genre. Rather they adapt the aesthetics and apply it to the action-adventure story to deliver a thoughtful and atmospheric tale loaded with suspense, but not often a genuinely scary or frightening one. I think Abe Sapien #1, penned by Mike Mignola and Scott Allie with artwork from Sebastián Fiumara is definitely one of the comics that takes a large step in the horror direction.

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