Editor's Introduction

Frances Kamm and Tamar Jeffers McDonald, University of Kent

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Articles

Introduction: Gothic and Horror Heroinism in the Age of Postfeminism.

Xavier Aldana Reyes, Manchester Metropolitan University

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Witches, ‘bitches’ or feminist trailblazers? The Witch in Folk Horror Cinema.

Chloé Germaine Buckley , Manchester Metropolitan University

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Witches have a long history in horror cinema but their status (feminist heroine or patriarchal monster?) continues to be the subject of critical debate. Barbara Creed’s seminal analysis notes that the witch is invariably represented as an old, ugly, crone. Elsewhere, Linda Williams’s suggestion that women and monsters share an affinity in horror film and pose a threat to vulnerable male power, has lead recent critics to consider depictions of the witch as offering a challenge to patriarchy. This article considers the genealogy of the witch in cinema through her depiction in folk horror, culminating in an analysis of Robert Eggers’s 2016 film, The Witch. Examining the debate around the feminist potential of the witch, the article concludes that she offers critics and viewers of horror cinema a troubling ambiguity that serves neither liberal nor conservative politics. The ambiguity of the witch means she can pressed in the service of competing discourses. Moreover, we cannot read the image of the witch independent of her origins in Early Modern history, nor of political and cultural contexts of these early decades of the twenty-first century. These contexts include the rise of the ‘Men’s Rights’ movement, a post-feminist backlash against women in authority, the creation of mainstream media platforms for misogynist ideas and rising economic and social inequalities that have disproportionately affected women. In these contexts, the figure of the witch looms large and ambiguity in itself is not necessarily subversion. As one reviewer of The Witch notes, the audience will see what they want to see.

 

 

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‘Unsettling the men’: the representation of transgressive female desire in Daughter of Darkness (Lance Comfort, 1948).

Paul Mazey, University of Bristol

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This article examines the British Gothic melodrama Daughter of Darkness (Lance Comfort, 1948) and the way it employs a combination of Gothic melodrama elements and Gothic horror elements to represent the transgressive behaviour of its serial-killing female protagonist.  The disturbed Emmy (Siobhán McKenna) is driven to murder the men she seduces and then, to restore her equilibrium, she plays the church organ in the dead of night.  Through a close textual analysis that focuses on the film’s emotionally-heightened narrative, on Clifton Parker’s musical score and on Stanley Pavey’s cinematography, this article explores how these elements work to draw the film’s eponymous anti-heroine away from the conventions of the female-centred Gothic melodrama and towards those of Gothic horror.

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A ‘fascinating conundrum of a movie’: Gothic, Horror and Crimson Peak (2015). Frances A. Kamm

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When Crimson Peak was released in 2015, reviews of the film reflected upon the difficulty in categorizing Guillermo del Toro’s latest project, with one critic concluding that the film’s complex generic referencing made it a ‘fascinating conundrum of a movie’. Of particular significance is the film’s relationship to horror, a debate underlined by the director’s insistence that the film is ‘not a horror movie’ but, rather, a ‘Gothic romance’, the latter of which is anchored in del Toro’s contextualization of the film within the traditions of the Female Gothic. However, Crimson Peak’s evocation of the Female Gothic is, this paper will argue, particularly complex: in contrast to the clear distinction del Toro suggests exists between horror and the Gothic in relation to this film, I argue that Crimson Peak ambiguously combines both, complicating its own employment of Female Gothic tropes through the inclusion of ghosts and, most significantly, in coding these supernatural occurrences as moments of horror. This blending is evident on narrative and stylistic levels and has several consequences: in particular, the use of tactics more usually associated with horror re-defines the alignment between heroine and spectator central to a Female Gothic story; disgust and fear are aligned with other female characters; and the story’s depiction of the villainous male is ambiguously concluded. Through the close analysis of the film’s story, tone and visual address, this paper will illuminate some part of the ‘conundrum’ which is Crimson Peak – a mystery rooted in the film’s relationship to the Gothic.

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Reviews

Women’s Colonial Gothic Writing, 1850-1930: Haunted Empire Melissa Edmundson.

Abigail Boucher, Aston University

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Shakespearean Gothic Christy Desmet and Anne Williams (eds.).

Katia Bowers, University of British Columbia

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The Gothic Novel and the Stage: Romantic Appropriations Francesca Saggini.

Kathleen Hudson, Anne Arundel Community College

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Werewolves, Wolves and the Gothic Robert McKay and John Miller (editors).

Kelly Jones, University of Lincoln

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Decadent Daughters and Monstrous Mothers Rebecca Munford.

Joellen Masters, Boston University

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Bram Stoker and The Gothic: Formations to Transformations Catherine Wynne (editor).

Emma Somogyi ,

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Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote Dracula David J. Skal.

Murray Leeder, University of Calgary

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Conference Report, Catherine Lester

Catherine Lester, University of Birmingham

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Notes on Contributors

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