“The gothic has adapted and grown, like a stone grotesque acquiring moss, though it has never departed from its underlying principles. Edmund Burke in his essay on the sublime identified what it was that Vasari felt, and what it was that so seduced the readers of Matthew Lewis and Anne Radcliffe: the idea that terror, and terrible things, could excite the emotions in the way the sight of a mountain range receding into mist might do. He wrote, ‘Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain and danger … is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling.’ This potent conflation of terror and excitement helps account for one of the most obscure and dangerous aspects of the gothic: its villains may commit revolting acts of violence, both sexual and moral, but they are never as repellent as they ought to be.”
This year, Professor Diana Wallace (University of South Wales) will be presenting the Assuming Gender Annual Lecture at Cardiff University. The lecture will explore a tradition of Gothic historical fictions stretching from Sophia Lee in the eighteenth century to Sarah Waters in the twenty-first century. Conscious that women have often been left out of traditional historical narratives, Wallace suggests that Gothic historical fiction offers a mode of writing which can both reinsert women into history and symbolise their exclusion. (more…)
In Alien (1979) other Gothic associations are brought to the fore. The wrecked alien spaceship and the bleak planet suggest the gloom, ruin and awful desolation of Gothic architecture and landscape. The coded message the spaceship transmits is not a distress signal, but a warning which goes unheeded by the human cargo ship that attends the call. Unaware of the dangers that their employers, another sinister and powerful corporation, have put them in, the crew are unwitting victims of their attempt to secure the power and profit of possessing such an efficient and utterly inhuman killing machine. The horror of the alien lies not only in its lethal power: its parasitical mode of procreation, using human bodies as hosts, means that it is a threat that emerges from within. (more…)
Samuel Beckett in Company is a new series from Ibidem that seeks to place Beckett within an array of contexts – literary, historical, geographical, philosophical, theoretical and institutional – yet with the overarching rationale of tracing the relations of which Beckett is the centre.
Through a career that spanned prose, poetry, theatre, literary criticism, radio, film and television over a period of some 60 years, Beckett was influenced by, negotiated with, and then came to influence, a host of artists (both literary and non-literary), media and their associated institutions. By placing Beckett at the centre of such relations, the series aims to trace influences on Beckett, but also to investigate how he influenced subsequent artists, movements, media and institutions. Submissions that focus on new or previously neglected relations are particularly welcome. (more…)