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To buy print copy of issue:
Volume 6, Issue 2 (Summer 2020)
Editors' Note, by Leah Richards and John R. Ziegler (7-8)
Hauntings of the Hunted: Preying on Childhood in Classic Hunting Stories, by Jericho Williams (9-29)
Abstract: This essay explores the pivotal roles of horror and the supernatural in two classic hunting stories, William Faulkner’s The Bear (1942) and Wilson Rawls’s Where the Red Fern Grows (1961). Focusing on childhood hauntings, these works feature the pursuits of two notoriously elusive prey animals, a legendary bear named Old Ben and a raccoon known as the ghost coon. Faulkner and Rawls present atmospheres that blur the lines between natural and supernatural, facilitated by elements of rural hunting culture that impact childhood psychology, such as encounters with an unpredictable wilderness populated with prey animals with their own desires, the allure of hunting trophies or of maturation that depends upon hunting, and the nature and function of hunting stories. As a consequence of their pursuits of Old Ben and the ghost coon, protagonists Ike McCaslin and Billy Coleman remain forever changed, haunted by losses that impart the fragility of human and animal bodies and that also facilitate a greater appreciation of the natural world’s complexity.
Keywords: The Bear (1942), childhood, hunting stories, Where the Red Fern Grows (1961), William Faulkner, Wilson Rawls
Horrific ‘In-betweenness’: Spatial and Temporal Displacement and British Society in 1970s Children’s Supernatural Television, by Mark Fryers (30-58)
Abstract: The 1970s in Britain were a period marked by economic and industrial strife and a cultural emphasis on nostalgia. It was also a televisual “golden age” that was echoed in a rich seam of horror and supernatural television that was also reflected in an equally vibrant period for supernatural programming for children. These included the series The Changes, Sky, King of the Castle, The Georgian House, Shadows and Come Back Lucy, which consistently explored the fracturing and dislocation of time and space. Alongside these, children were constantly warned of the dangers of playing in the spaces of industry and agriculture by exposure to a series of Public Information Films broadcast on television that both traded on the representational paradigms of the horror film and which consequently imbricated the spaces of work and industry as potentially deadly. As this article will exemplify, a wider societal context of childhood fear was evoked on television that spoke to the attendant fear and uncertainty of the interstitial spaces between childhood and adolescence, adolescence and adulthood. This “horrific in-betweenness” explored so consistently on British screens speaks equally to the socio-cultural contexts of 1970s Britain, long established British childhood literary tropes as well as deeper anxieties surrounding the intractability of discrete parameters of childhood.
Keywords: British television culture, children’s horror and fantasy, horror and society, space and temporality in horror, supernatural television
“Towns that go bump in the night”: Haunted Urbanity and Ghostly Narratives in the UK, by Alexander Hay (59-83)
Abstract: Most if not all towns and cities in the UK have at least one haunted landmark, often several. Locations ranging from Southampton to York to Cardiff, for example, are host to a wide range of venues and locations, from industrial estates to haunted theatres, all said to be host to spectral presences of one sort or another. It is fair to say, then, that paranormal urban landscapes loom large in British culture and its urban experience. Given the sheer number of these occurrences, what does this reveal about how we relate to our towns and cities? Do our large number of haunted cities and towns reflect an ongoing narrative tradition in our popular culture, or do haunted sites instead reflect a sense of alienation and disillusionment with our surroundings, be it in the form of shuttered pubs, the London Underground, or the nondescript environs of a semi-detached house with its own poltergeist? Other areas of interest in this paper include how press coverage both reflects and disseminate urban ghost narratives, alongside the rise of housing inequalities and entrenched poverty that increasingly define British towns and cities. Whether these urban ghosts exist, of course, is another matter.
Keywords: city, ghosts, hauntings, homelessness, housing, media, news, town, urban
The Hesitation Principle in “The Rats in the Walls,” by Dennis Wilson Wise (84-99)
Abstract: Prior to 1926 when H. P. Lovecraft first published “The Call of Cthulhu,” his finest short story is generally considered to be “The Rats in the Walls.” Contradictory evidence, however, laces this short tale. Are Lovecraft’s eponymous rats supernatural entities, or are they simply the mad ravings of an unreliable narrator? Most commentators have preferred a realistic or naturalistic framework of explanation, but I argue that the rats’ ontological status remains inherently undecidable. Using Tzvetan Todorov’s theory of the fantastic as a starting point, this article suggests that when a reader hesitates over the rats’ reality, this hesitation raises questions about the shifting boundary between real and unreal, which in turn accentuates the precarity within what I have elsewhere called Lovecraft’s moment in the international weird.
Keywords: Henry James, H.P. Lovecraft, international weird, “The Rats in the Walls,” Tzvetan Todorov
2020 Supernatural Studies Conference Not-Proceedings (100-148)
We are excited to bring you the ghostly spectre of our third-annual conference, which would have happened in March at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY. New Rochelle was the epicenter of the pandemic in the greater New York City area, which at the time we thought would last maybe 6 weeks. Oh, the naivete of people who leave their homes every day!
Laura Kemmerer, content developer for the indie horror zine What Sleeps Beneath, was going to join us at the conference, so when the conference was canceled, we began discussing a collaboration, the journal’s part of which we present to you now. In addition to an outline of the day’s sessions, we bring you a selection of participant abstracts and a few full conference presentations, Olivia Zolciak’s discussion of mother-hood and The Babadook; Jeffrey Canino’s essay on Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s supernatural fantasies, which would have been the capstone to a panel featuring Canino’s under-graduate students also presenting on Gilman; and Antares Leask’s fantastic analysis of the Tennessee Wraith Chasers as a model of the classism that informs so much reality television. What Sleeps Beneath provided an additional platform for Q&As for readers to learn more about speakers and their work, in lieu of being present at the conference.
While this is not the same as our day of sessions and a keynote from Murray Leeder, University of Manitoba, on “The Cinematic Séance,” we hope that this collection gives our readers a sense of how great it would have been.
Book Reviews (149-177)
[Read/Download] all in print version [forthcoming] or click on individual reviews for web versions
The Uncanny Child in Transnational Cinema: Ghosts of Futurity at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century, by Jessica Balanzategui, reviewed by Anna Mae Duane
Affective Intensities and Evolving Horror Forms: From Found Footage to Virtual Reality, by Adam Daniel, reviewed by Maledon Hoedt
B-Movie Gothic: International Perspectives, Justin D. Edwards and Johan Höglund, eds., reviewed by Naomi Simone Borwein
Bram Stoker and the Late Victorian World, Matthew Gibson and Sabine Lenore Müller, eds., reviewed by Jeanette Laredo
Subversive Spirits: The Female Ghost in British and American Popular Culture, by Robin Roberts, reviewed by Natalie Grove
Craving Supernatural Creatures: German Fairy-Tale Figures in American Pop Culture, by Claudia Schwabe, reviewed by David J. Puglia
Studying Horror Cinema, by Bryan Turnock, reviewed by Cary Elza
The Mad Scientist’s Guide to Composition: A Somewhat Cheeky but Exceedingly Useful Introduction to Academic Writing, by Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, reviewed by Aaron Pinnix
To buy print copy of issue:
Volume 6, Issue 1 (Fall 2019)
Editors' Note, by Leah Richards and John R. Ziegler (7-8)
Strange Days in the Anthropocene: The Inhuman in "The Colour out of Space" and Annihilation, by Jan Čapek (9-25)
Abstract: This article considers the different ethical effects of extra-terrestrial forces entering the milieu of the Earth in H. P. Lovecraft’s 1927 story “The Colour out of Space” and Alex Garland’s 2018 film Annihilation. The article first introduces Lovecraft’s concept of the “cosmic” and, following his proposition of the cosmic indifference toward the Human, identifies cosmic forces as “inhuman,” incompatible with the Human. The article then discusses the significance of anthropocentric ethics and its relatively recent critiques found in Émil Cioran’s concept of the “void” or the introduction of the spatiotemporal territory of the “Anthropocene.” The article then proposes to discuss the effects of the cosmic force in relation to Nature not as “supernatural” but as “supranatural” or “innatural.” Annihilation provides an example of inhuman yet supranatural cosmic occurrence, a proliferation of Nature. After considering the anthropocentric and cosmic significance of the motif of cancer, the article continues on to discuss its transformations of Nature, the Human, and their ethical relations. Lovecraft’s story, seen through a Marxist reading of themes of alienation, fatigue, and depletion, reveals its cosmic force to be inhuman and innatural, exemplifying the frightening materiality of capitalism itself. While both works share the premise of transformations brought by an extra-terrestrial force and exemplify how anthropocentrism affects our perception of it, each proposes vastly different effects of the intrusion.
Keywords: Annihilation, anthropocentrism, capitalism, ethics, H. P. Lovecraft, inhuman
Natural versus Supernatural Agency in The Castle of Otranto, by Damian Shaw (26-43)
Abstract: Horace Walpole’s novel The Castle of Otranto is seen as the origin of the genre of gothic fiction. It has spurred continuing debate over how to interpret the role of the supernatural presences in the novel, exemplified by the ghost of Alfonso. Linked to this discussion is the question of whether the novel can ultimately be read as a conservative text supporting traditional values within a patriarchal system, or as a more revolutionary text encouraging the overthrow of this system. Within this context, the widespread interpretation of Horace Walpole’s novel, that it is ultimately conservative because supernatural agents restore ownership of the castle to its so-called legitimate heirs, has generally been accepted. Furthermore, a growing number of critics also argue that the castle is partially destroyed by these supernatural forces, usually by the ghost of Alfonso. My article argues that it is highly unlikely that the castle is damaged by supernatural agents. Nature is responsible for the collapse of the castle’s walls. As such, a more revolutionary reading of the novel is called for.
Keywords: 18th-century novel, Horace Walpole, natural phenomena, supernatural agents, The Castle of Otranto
Hybridity Transformed: From "Hans My Hedgehog" to the Genetically Engineered in Art, by Mary Bricker (44-55)
Abstract: Celebrating its bicentennial in 2015, “Hans My Hedgehog” (Hans Mein Igel), a story from the Brothers Grimm, is a fairy tale about a hybrid person, Hans, who was born with normal human features below the waist but the features of a hedgehog above the waist. Hans leaves his biological family’s home at a young age and escapes to the woods, where he teaches himself music, grows a herd of pigs, and helps those lost. His monstrousness is expressed in two ways in the story: first through his bodily features and second through his behavior. In the story, Hans assaults a princess as retribution for her father (the king) breaking an agreement with him. Traditional psychoanalytic readings of the tale explain his monstrousness as a result of a lack of parental control and as resolvable through the relinquishing of sexual fears.
A renewed interest in hybridity is found both in scientific and artistic communities, as, for example, scientists experiment with animal cells to create new hybrid genetic forms for medical advancement. The potential good promised by the scientific community is beginning to shift the narrative regarding monsters, which we can see in examples such as the exhibition “Fairy Tales, Monsters, and the Genetic Imagination” at the Frist Center in Nashville, Tennessee, which showcased mutation and evolution in a sympathetic way, that allow the visitor to begin to relinquish the feelings of fear associated with monsters.
Keywords: Brothers Grimm, fairy tales, genetic engineering, hedgehog, hybrid, monster, transformation
Three Notes and a Handlist of North American Fairies, by Chris Woodyard and Simon Young (56-85)
Abstract: Much has been made of the failure of European fairy beliefs to cross the Atlantic to North America. However, we present three instances where such beliefs demonstrably prospered in the new world: a changeling case in New York; a number of North American fairy placenames; and a remarkable fairy flight from Prince Edward's Island. The article ends with a handlist of fairy experiences from the colonial period to the Second World War.
Keywords: changelings, fairies, folklore, North America, trans-Atlantic
Book Reviews (85-103)
[Read/Download] all in print version or click on individual reviews for web versions
From Auteur's Devil's Advocates series:
Owen, Rebekah. Macbeth. Reviewed by Andrew Tumminia.
Grimm, Joshua. It Follows. Reviewed by Alison Bainbridge.
Dixon, Wheeler Winston. The Films of Terence Fisher: Hammer Horror and Beyond. Reviewed by John Gaffney.
Massaccesi, Cristina. Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror. Reviewed by David Hansen.
Mitchell, Neil. Carrie. Reviewed by Kellye McBride.
Brewster, Scott, and Luke Thurston, eds. The Routledge Handbook to the Ghost Story. Reviewed by Aran Ruth.
Crişan, Marius-Mircea, ed. Dracula: An International Perspective. Reviewed by Deborah M. Fratz.
Print run sold out.
Volume 5, Issue 2 (Winter 2019): Special Issue: Twin Peaks
Special Issue: Twin Peaks
Guest Editor: Franck Boulègue
Introduction, by Franck Boulègue (7-18)
"Gotta Light?": Intersections of Science and the Supernatural in Twin Peaks, by Miranda Corcoran (19-44)
Abstract: In the eighth episode of Twin Peaks: The Return, the visceral horrors of history and the imaginative constructs of fiction converge amidst the incendiary wrath of a massive nuclear conflagration. As the world's first nuclear detonation generates a massive explosion over the desert plains of New Mexico, the fabric of reality appears to rupture, unleashing a horde of sinister, scorched figures, whose shadowy forms seem to crackle with radioactive menace. In this moment of scientific apotheosis, the ostensibly divergent realms of the scientific and the supernatural unite to create a horror that traverses the boundary between the natural and the unnatural. However, this unsettling genesis is not the first time that the apparently distinct realms of the rational and the mystical have converged within the strange universe of Twin Peaks. Indeed, across the vast mythopoeia of Twin Peaks, the scientific and the supernatural constantly collide, intertwine, and merge. Drawing on this perspective, this essay explores the many diverse intersections of the scientific and the supernatural that occur within the world of Twin Peaks.
Keywords: atomic bomb, electromagnetism, mysticism, Project Blue Book
Mark Frost's The Secret History of Twin Peaks & Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier, reviewed by Johnny Truant (45-48)
Under The Skin of the World: The Multiversal Spaces of Twin Peaks, by Adam Daniel (49-72)
Abstract: This article assesses how David Lynch and Mark Frost employ location not only as a setting for action, but also as a way of interrogating the possibilities of parallel internal and external realities. Drawing on multiverse theory, it examines the metaphysical implications of the universe that Lynch and Frost have created and how the show questions the orthodoxy of singular space-time configurations. Taking Margaret Lanterman's questions that introduce episodes in syndication to interrogate how the show literalizes and thematizes worlds behind worlds, it examines the possibility that the apartment above the convenience store is one of many junction points for these multiple realities, acting as a nexus of worlds. Twin Peaks: The Return engages with the affective capacities of the sound and image to open up this expanded conception of worlds that exist under the skin of our world.
Keywords: images, multiverse, parallel realities, space-time
Gregg Almquist, Tricia Brock, Robert Engels, Lise Friedman & Harley Peyton's Welcome to Twin Peaks: An Access Guide to the Town, reviewed by Andrew Burt (73-75)
"Ladies and gentlemen [...] The Nine Inch Nails": Twin Peaks and Fictional World and Alternative Earth, by David Sweeney (76-94)
Abstract: In one sense, all fictional worlds, no matter how 'realistic,' are alternative earths, populated as they are with characters who either do not exist in the real world or are invented versions of people who do, but alternative history fiction requires a point of divergence in order to ask 'what if?' questions. While none of the installments of the Twin Peaks franchise explicitly address a point of divergence, the scenes set in 1945 and 1956 in The Return provide a historical context previously absent from the series. This article argues that the alternative earth in which Twin Peaks is set diverged from our own with the supernatural incursion created by the Trinity explosion. One characteristic of this alternative universe is 'retromania,' pop culture's fascination with its past, which in the world of the series seems less exercises in nostalgia than signifiers of the milieu of an alternative earth, one which is similar to yet different enough from our own to make us consider the history of the real world anew.
Keywords: 1950s, alternative earths, dimensions, retromania
Jennifer Lynch's The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, reviewed by Ernesto Acosta Sandoval (95-97)
Twin Peaks: The Return as Subversive Fairy Tale, by Courtenay Stallings (98-116)
Abstract: This article considers Twin Peaks: The Return as a supernatural fairy tale, employing as it does forces that defy scientific explanation (including the other-dimensional worlds of the Red Room, the Purple Palace, and the White Lodge) and fairy tale tropes like a hero sent on a quest, magic, giants, monsters, and talking animals. However, the narrative does not follow conventional storytelling practices. The fairy tale of The Return allows viewers to grapple with real-life dark forces and trauma. The dream-like story provides a supernatural coding to allow viewers to confront the horror of violence and despair, comforted by the fact that Agent Cooper is on a quest to rescue the princess and battle darkness.
Keywords: civilizing process, fairy tales, folklore, quests, self-transformation
Mark Frost's The List of Seven & The Six Messiahs, reviewed by Diana Heyne (117-119)
Thousands of Miles and Many Centuries: Eastern Mysticism and Spiritual Possession in Twin Peaks, by Brett H. Butler (120-144)
Abstract: The concept of possession in Western culture is typically associated with Christian mythos, but numerous characters in Twin Peaks reflect non-Christian ideologies and the supernatural world of Twin Peaks cannot be accurately evaluated with Western, Christian myths. This article analyzes the amalgam of Eastern and Native American spiritualism and mysticism that the show employs to explain the paranormal occupation of and influence over characters in Twin Peaks to address why the White and Black Lodges exist, why their spirit inhabitants occupy certain characters in the series, and why only certain characters can see/interact with these spirits.
Keywords: dance, misakis, possession, Tibetan Book of the Dead
Scott Frost's The Autobiography of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes, reviewed by Franck Boulègue (145-147)
The Secret History of BOB: Transmedia Storytelling and Twin Peaks, by Mark Yates (148-170)
Abstract: This article investigates the ways in which the transmedia epitexts of Twin Peaks--which include tie-in books, audio cassettes, collector's cards, websites, and video featurettes--contributed to the development of Twin Peaks' supernatural mythology. Bu focusing on the series' supernatural antagonist, BOB, it argues that the epitextual media not only fulfilled its paratextual function of presenting and commenting on Twin Peaks but also expanded and complicated the show's supernatural mythology through its uses of transmedia storytelling. Applying Gérard Genette's paratextual methodologies and Henry Jenkins' concept of transmedia storytelling to explore the transmedia epitexts of Twin Peaks, this article considers the ways in which these epitexts expanded upon the show's supernatural mythologies to such an extent that the majority of their mysteries have remained unacknowledged within the show's canon. Exploring these unacknowledged mysteries reveals a transmedia storytelling strategy that not only promoted Twin Peaks but also created an immersive narrative experience that both reinforced and complicated the show's supernatural mythologies.
Keywords: epitextuality, intertextuality, paratextuality, transmediality
Mark Frost's The Paladin Prophecy, Alliance & Rogue, reviewed by Marisa C. Hayes (171-173)
"If Jupiter and Saturn Meet": Astrological Dualities and Time in Twin Peaks, by Karla Lončar (174-193)
Abstract: Within the spiritual/mystical realms of Twin Peaks and the array of occult, spiritual, and mythological symbols employed to shape their story and its world, David Lynch and Mark Frost include references to the classical-to-medieval era sciences of astrology and alchemy, most prominently those that engage with the Jupiter-Saturn dichotomy. This article argues that these references embody tensions between the Black (Saturn) and White (Jupiter) Lodge, and the "real" (Jupiter) and shadow self (Saturn), which correspond with Jungian psychoanalysis; additionally, tensions between the traditional generic elements (Saturn) and the avant-garde Lynchian devices (Jupiter) and audiovisual explorations of time and space manifest as long and repetitive takes (Saturn) in opposition with immersive and dynamic sequences (Jupiter).
Keywords: astrology, Carl Jung, planets, psychoanalysis, time and space
To buy print copy of issue:
Volume 5, Issue 1 (Summer 2018)
Editors' Note, by Leah Richards and John R. Ziegler (7-8)
Spectra of Transcommunication: A Survival Study after Raudive and Derrida, by Luka Bekavac (9-32)
Abstract: The article analyzes instrumental transcommunication (ITC) as a widespread cultural practice of representing the afterlife. A brief introductory survey of the phenomenon focuses on its history, its conceptual and technological development, its impact on the world of art, and various types of criticism it provoked. Belief in the possibility of communicating with the dead is further explored from a cognitive and psychoanalytic angle: the “specters” of ITC are traceable to a specific interplay of apophenia or pareidolia and the work of mourning (as defined by Freud and critically developed by Abraham and Torok). In the concluding section, ITC’s ontological premises—“realism” of the photographic image and equating voice with life—are examined in the light of Derrida’s “hauntology” and Barthes’s theory of photography: if signifying processes are irreducible to the singularity of a living presence, then writing, photography, and sound recordings actually “spectralize” the living instead of reanimating or documenting the dead.
Keywords: instrumental transcommunication, spectrality, hauntology, text, mourning, photography, Derrida, Barthes
The Hunters and the Haunted: Blackwood’s Transformation of the Wendigo, by Kirk R. Swenson (33-49)
Abstract: A comparison of the wendigo described in ethnographic literature to the entity of Algernon Blackwood’s story “The Wendigo” reveals how the author adapted the monster of Algonquin lore for readers of popular fiction at the turn of the twentieth century. Aboriginal stories of the wendigo functioned within tribal societies where social cohesion and deference to community needs were preeminent; the monster embodied the horrors of privation where scarcity was the rule. Blackwood’s wendigo, in contrast, is a seductive entity that takes a victim’s life even as it offers consummation with primal beauty. This shift is integral to the story’s dialectic between a conventional masculinity characterized by scientific objectivity and a feminizing susceptibility to the allure of the aesthetic. Defago’s rendezvous with the wendigo is driven by an emotional vulnerability as emasculating as it is fatal. The result is a story that dramatizes key conflicts in early twentieth-century masculinity.
Keywords: apotheosis, phallic, transgression, Romantic, sacred, sublime
Into the Weird, Wild Woods: Folklore and the Supernatural in Lumberjanes and The Good Neighbors, by Kirsten Møllegaard (50-73)
Abstract: Young Adult (YA) fantasy fiction retells and repositions elements of traditional folklore in tales of the supernatural. The folklore and folktales retold in two YA graphic novel series, Lumberjanes and The Good Neighbors, form part of a larger trend in postmodern literature to question Otherness and humans' relation to nature. In these two comics series, nature is presented as a supernatural place full of monstrous creatures and mysterious powers. This paper examines the narrative strategies facilitated by the comics medium's combination of images and text. Like traditional folklore, the folkloresque is argued to be a dynamic ingredient in the production and consumption of cultural knowledge in YA literature.
Keywords: Folklore, folkloresque, fantasy fiction, Lumberjanes, The Good Neighbors, Otherness, comics
“Nothing alive here but us and the plant”: Ecological Terror and the Disruption of Order in Scott Smith’s The Ruins, by Jim Coby (74-95)
Abstract: In Scott Smith’s bestselling second novel, The Ruins, four American travelers head to a Mexican resort town to celebrate their final days before entering the “real world.” Circumstances take a turn for the worse when, at the behest of a newfound friend, the travelers venture to an abandoned archaeological dig site. They quickly discover that the site is inhabited by bloodthirsty and seemingly malevolent plant life. What should be a straightforward examination of colonial privilege and dissolution of societal bonds becomes complicated through Smith’s use of a fecund antagonist. As such, Smith deconstructs not only notions of Western privilege in the Global South, but, as I argue, also the upsetting of a supposedly axiomatic ontological order.
Keywords: Anthropocene, postcolonialism, Scott Smith, The Ruins, Timothy Morton
Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Mistrusting the Female Experience, by Julie Hugonny (96-120)
Abstract: In Philip Kaufman’s 1978 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, women are presented as educated, sensible, independent, and sexually liberated. Yet, when they speak up, denouncing a sudden change of behavior in their companions, the men they confide in dismiss their concerns as emotional and irrational. This article highlights and analyzes the gender relations in the film, focusing on men’s silencing of women to prevent them from questioning the current relations of power and authority. Their knee-jerk reaction of discrediting women precipitates the threat to humanity, as their warnings go unheeded. More importantly, it reveals men’s own inadequacies, as they navigate a changing world in which women now have knowledge, self-awareness, expectations, and a voice to articulate them.
Keywords: science fiction, gender relations, body snatchers, desire, abuse, experience
Through the Cheval-Glass: The Doppelgänger and Temporal Modernist Terror in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Whitney S. May (121-135)
Abstract: This article investigates the function of the doppelgänger in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as a figure from the Gothic past resurrected and reengineered to navigate fin de siècle misgivings about the uncertainty of the modern future. The duality inherent to the doppelgänger figure makes it a superb case study of this modern impulse for reinvention, for its uncanniness precludes the modernist impulse to recode past forms in the interest of future invention. Thus reanimated, the doppelgänger in this tale typifies the anxieties of a period that found itself neither distinctly Victorian, nor definitively modern, but rather, as Dr. Jekyll mourns of his own schizophrenic situation, “radically both.” Viewing itself through a transformative modern mirror, Stevenson’s readership found itself face to face with a perfectly modern metropolitan monster in Edward Hyde, and even in his destruction, haunted by the social and technological upheaval that he represents.
Keywords: doppelgänger, dualism, modernism, monster, Robert Louis Stevenson
One of a Multiplicious Kind: Orphan Black, Performance and the Plurality of Female Experience, by Joseph Walderzak (136-158)
Abstract: This article argues that Orphan Black’s concentration of female characters, all performed by Tatiana Maslany, not only challenges and deconstructs salient stereotypes but exposes their triviality through establishing their mutability, accessibility, and diversity. Amanda Lotz’s work on television provides an entry point to analyzing the ramifications of Maslany’s performance. The diversity of characters from the same genetic source is in itself empowering, but the fact they can successfully portray one another and are all performed by a single actress shows the permeability and accessibility of various female personas. These scenes raise awareness of the performative aspects of identity, and, therefore, the thrust of this article is analogous to theories of gender performativity, particularly those which have built upon and challenged Judith Butler’s seminal works on the topic. Using this context of performativity, I here refine Lotz’s methodology in order to illuminate how performance is linked to archetypes.
Keywords: performance studies; performativity; television studies; Orphan Black; gender studies; feminist media
To buy print copy of issue:
Volume 4, Issue 2 (2018): Special Issue: Black Mirror
Guest Editor: Bethany Holmstrom
Introduction, by Bethany Holmstrom (7-10)
“We are Not in Control Anymore”: Technological Possessions Facilitated by Simulacrums in the Posthuman reality of “Hated in the Nation,” by Shastri Akella (11-26)
Abstract: Acts of technological possession occur in "Hated in the Nation" at the point of intersection of two forms of surveillance: social media- and government-driven surveillance, each form producing a simulacrum. The work the simulacrums do together to facilitate the act of technological possession is symptomatic of a partially-realized posthuman reality, one in which honeybees have gone extinct and technologically-driven drones perform the task of pollination. Self-imposed limitations might create a more sustainable relationship between the technology that facilitates the posthuman state of being and the environment in which the posthuman subsists.
Keywords: Black Mirror, climate change, posthumanism, social media, surveillance, technology, Trans-humanism
Grain Ethics: Voyeurism, Violence, and Traumatic Memory in Black Mirror’s “The Entire History of You,” by Sarah Hildebrand (27-41)
Abstract: This article analyzes how memory-enhancing technology may serve to perpetuate trauma and enable new forms of gender-based violence. By drawing on the fields of trauma theory and memory studies, it critiques the alleged objectivity of digitized vs. organic memories by exposing the power dynamics at play during acts of witnessing. This article conducts a close-reading of the Black Mirror episode "The Entire History of You" in order to reveal how biotechnology can increase the vulnerability of female bodies. In a society where memories can be digitally preserved and projected on-screen for both private and public viewing, instances of the male gaze are amplified and the conditions necessary for consent disappear, increasing the risk of physical and psychical violation.
Keywords: Black Mirror, gender, memory, technology, trauma, voyeurism, violence
Wired: "Men Against Fire" and Revolution in Military Affairs, by Kenn Watt (42-60)
Abstract: The "Men Against Fire" episode of Black Mirror depicts an advanced military device, an implant called MASS, which enhances a soldier's capacity for surveillance and ferocity and blocks ethical reasoning. This article examines how MASS is merely the next stage in a revision of U.S. military strategy in place for decades, and is, in fact, already in various stages of development. This logical extension of the dehumanization of both the enemy and our own combatants makes killing easier because the Otherness of the opponent is drawn out to monstrous extremes. By examining the strained psychological effects of MASS, this article critiques the military vision of current tactical priorities as well as the loss of moral compass demanded of participants in contemporary conflicts around the globe.
Keywords: Black Mirror, combat, military technology, modern warfare, soldiers, war
How Do I Look? Data's Death Drive and Our Black Mirrored Reflections, by Chris Campanioni (61-76)
Abstract: In a culture that has systematically abolished privacy, the pleasure we still most desire is the private experience. What is more private than connecting our bodies to the VR apparatus, individualizing our imagination so as to stay inside on the outside? This contribution uses logic and language theory (Wittgenstein), visual studies (Berger), and psychoanalysis (Freud) to frame an auto-theoretical inquiry into the many different ways art--and our experience of art--has changed as virtual reality becomes increasingly mainstreamed and normalized. "How Do I Look?" traces the history of VR as its starting point before exploring today's questions of digital intimacy, data accumulation, AI chatbots, and our culture's general fascination with and re-appropriation of death. Internet's exploitation of our inability to deal with death, by removing it from life, is re-contextualized through a reading of two of the most popular episodes of the television show Black Mirror.
Keywords: Black Mirror, data, death, digital intimacy, Internet studies, virtual reality
Teaching Notes (77-96)
"Men Against Fire": The Uncanny Episode on Ideology, by Minerva Ahumada
Teaching Black Mirror and Popular Culture, by Bethany Holmstrom
Language, Identity, and "Be Right Back," by Rebekah Johnson
At the Limits of Relationality: Teaching "Be Right Back," by Christine Marks
The Pleasure of Terror in Black Mirror: "Be Right Back," "Playtest," and "Metalhead," by Claudia Moreno Parsons
"The National Anthem," Shut Up and Dance," and the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory, by Leah Richards
To buy print copy of issue:
Volume 4, Issue 1 (Summer 2017)
Editors' Note and Introduction, by Leah Richards and John R. Ziegler (7)
A Supernatural Spectacle: Film Style Within the Prologue of Black Swan, by Derek M. Dubois (11-23) [Read/Download]
Abstract: Filmmaker Darren Aronofsky is well-known for a dynamic film style that showcases characters who self-destruct in visceral, kinetic ways. His Black Swan (2010) concerns a talented but infantilized ballet dancer whose quest for perfection in her renowned company's performance of Swan Lake leads her down a darkened path of self-mutilation. The film externalizes this threat through the introduction of supernatural elements—most specifically—through the emergence of the double. This essay argues that Aronofsky establishes his key themes and genre elements through the techniques of art cinema immediately within the film’s prologue.
Keywords: art cinema, the double/doppelgänger, film style, narrative
The girlie-wolf--good for nothing: Twilight and the Anti-Feminist She-Wolf, by Stephanie Gallon (24-37)
Abstract: Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga has been an international phenomenon, yielding much debate about the agency of the heroine. Though a minor character, Leah Clearwater is a character worth studying and an ideal lens through which to examine the series, as she occupies a unique space within the world and narrative: she is the only she-wolf in the Quileute pack. This essay argues that an analytical focus on Leah Clearwater reveals that the Twilight saga, by cultural and authorial definitions, fails as a feminist piece.
Keywords: Gothic, female werewolf, feminist post-colonialism, Twilight
"Keeping the Past Present": Time and the Shifting Bog in Bram Stoker's The Snake's Pass, by Nancy Marck Cantwell (38-50)
Abstract: Bram Stoker’s Irish novel, The Snake’s Pass, interrogates the continuity of Irish history and national identity through a legend explaining a Connemara bog’s supernatural influence, a story that portrays the trauma of Ireland’s dispossession as indelible and timeless. This reading of the novel employs Julia Kristeva’s conceptualization of linear and monumental time to argue for the preeminence of the supernatural bog as a totem of Irish identity that persists in cultural memory to counter the forward momentum of the Anglo-Irish assimilation narrative.
Keywords: bog, Bram Stoker, dispossession, Ireland, Julia Kristeva
Cultural Human Sacrifice in Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street Films, by Brittany Caroline Speller (51-68)
Abstract: Wes Craven’s films often feature veiled or outright commentaries on their cultural context. With this trait in mind, a reexamination of his initial two entries in the Elm Street series is warranted. By utilizing a theoretical lens of cultural human sacrifice, combined with traditional film criticism techniques, this essay argues that Craven’s films A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) can be seen as inclusive of instances of human sacrifice that were deemed necessary in order to perpetuate the hegemonic societal norms of the 1980s.
Keywords: Elm Street series, horror genre, human sacrifice, slasher films, Wes Craven
Damsels, Dragons, and Death-girls: Married and Unmarried Foreign Women in The Book of John Mandeville, by Ellis Light (69-87)
Abstract: This article examines the (re)presentations of foreign women in The Book of John Mandeville, arguing that foreign women’s marital status is central in determining their inclusion in the category of the human. Unmarried foreign women appear as dangerous figures whose bodies transform into monstrous forms such as dragons and human-animal hybrids, while married women are seen as commodities whose value depends on performances of status.
Keywords: abjection, gender studies, Mandeville, marriage, medieval, monstrosity, travel writing
Academia, Relativism, and the "Supernatural": What is True, What is Real, and What is Reasonable?, by Elizabeth Lowry (88-98)
Abstract: Considering other people’s esoteric or “supernatural” experiences in a professional capacity can be challenging because, as academics, we are expected to reject such discourses. But while “critical thinking” presupposes a strictly rationalist and positivist standpoint, the act of thinking critically may sometimes require a more relativistic perspective on what is generally accepted as being true and real. Acknowledging the social and political dangers of accepting an overly relativistic view of “truth” and “reality,” this paper explores the plusses and pitfalls of relativism with regard to truth claims associated with the supernatural.
Keywords: esoteric, rational, reason, relativism, truth-claims
Print run sold out.
Volume 3, Issue 2 (Fall/Winter 2016): Special Issue: Ghosts and Hauntings
Editors' Note and Introduction, by Leah Richards and John R. Ziegler (7). [Read/Download]
Between Madness, Malice and Marginalization: Reading the Ghost of Jennet Humfrye in Susan Hill's The Woman in Black in the Context of Trauma Theory, by Denise Burkhard (9-20). [Read/Download]
How (Not) to Read the American Haunted House, by Dara Downey (21-35). [Read/Download]
Re/possessed: the Haunted House, Spectral Debt, and the Hyper-Gothic in Lunar Park (2005), by Amy Bride (36-48). [Read/Download]
Ghosts in the Machine: Spectral Technologies, Haunting Affects, and Virtual-Feminine Ghosts, by Raechel Dumas (49-63). [Read/Download]
Viral Video, Traumatic Therapy: Hideo Nakata's Ringu and the Attempt to Cure the Future by Inoculating Us with the Past, by Sigmund Shen (64-79). [Read/Download]
The Girl with the Gravestone Sidewalk: A Poetics of the Dead, by Joshua Adair (80-96). [Read/Download]
To buy print copy of issue [2 copies remaining]:
Volume 3, Issue 1 (Spring 2016)
Introduction, by Leah Richards (7).
Shantooe Jest: A Forgotten Nineteenth-Century Fairy Saga, by Simon Young (9-22). [Read/Download]
The Gothic Experience of Terror and Horror in Matthew Lewis's The Monk, by Erica McCrystal (23-32). [Read/Download]
Dark Shadows and Gothic Lights: Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, by Osmond Chien-ming Chang (33-41). [Read/Download]
The Moral Imagination and Sergeant James Hathaway in Inspector Lewis, by Heather Ostman (42-55). [Read/Download]
Monkey Drag: Gendering and Deconstructing the Sasquatch Masquerade, by James Keller (56-64). [Read/Download]
Teen Drama with a Bite: Human Animality in Teen Wolf, by Anastassiya Andrianova (65-84). [Read/Download]
"Sweetheart, this is Gender Studies": Jo Harvelle, Female Strength, and Fandom in Supernatural, by Victoria Farmer (85-98). [Read/Download]
Film Series Review Essay
Paranormal Found-Footage Fizzle: The Rise and Fall of the Paranormal Activity Franchise, by William D. Prystauk (99-108). [Read/Download]
Book Reviews [Read all/Download all]
Davidson, Jane P. Early Modern Supernatural: The Dark Side of the European Culture, 1400-1700. Review by Timothy Bernard Walsh.
Smith, Jay M. Monsters of the Gévaudan: The Making of a Beast. Review by Todd Spaulding.
Miller, Cynthia J., and Bowdoin Van Riper, eds. Undead in the West: Vampires, Zombies, Mummies, and Ghosts on the Cinematic Frontier. Review by Murray Leeder.
Wilson, Leah, ed. A Taste of True Blood: the Fangbanger's Guide and George Dunn and Rebecca Housel, eds. True Blood and Philosophy: We Wanna Think Bad Things with You. Review by Alysa Hornick.
Redding, Arthur. Haints: American Ghosts, Millenial Passions, and Contemporary Gothic Fictions. Review by Christopher K. Coffman.
To buy print copy of issue [4 copies remaining]:
Volume 2, Issue 2 (Summer 2015): Special Issue: The Supernatural in the Long Nineteenth Century
Guest Editor: Janine Hatter
Introduction, by Janine Hatter (9-13). [Read/Download]
Banishing the Beast: The Role of the Wolf in "Dracula's Guest" and Its Omission from Dracula, by Kaja Franck and Matthew Beresford (14-28). [Read/Download]
Writing the Vampire: M.E. Braddon's "Good Lady Ducayne" and Bram Stoker's Dracula, by Janine Hatter (29-47). [Read/Download]
Bram Stoker's The Lair of the White Worm: Supernatural Representations and Nineteenth-Century Paleontology, by Carol Senf (48-58). [Read/Download]
Acting Monstrous: Staging the Creature in Presumption; Or, The Fate of Frankenstein, by Brittany Reid (59-72). [Read/Download]
Haunted Tomes, Haunted Canvases: Supernatural Realism in Nineteenth-Century Novels and Paintings, by Cameron Dodworth (73-92). [Read/Download]
"Land of the living that's thronged with the dead": Mary Kingsley and the Ghosts of West Africa, by Melissa Edmundson (93-107). [Article unavailable as open-access by request of the author.]
From Ouina to Black Hawk: The Role of Native American Spirit Controls in the Victorian-Era Séance, by Elizabeth Lowry (108-117). [Read/Download]
Mesmeric Clairvoyance in Mid-Victorian Literature: Eliot, Bulwer-Lytton, and MacDonald, by Helena Ifill (118-132). [Read/Download]
Anatomy of the Demons: The Demoniac Body Dealers of the Penny Bloods, by Anna Gasperini (133-147). [Read/Download]
Reincarnation, Rudyard Kipling, and Mortimer Collins, by Erin Louttit (148-160). [Read/Download]
William Carleton, Folklore, the Famine, and the Irish Supernatural, by Melissa Fegan (161-173). [Read/Download]
Ghostly Markings: Aesthetic Criminality, Acts, and Supernatural Identity in Wilde's "The Canterville Ghost," by Christie Cognevich (174-183). [Read/Download]
Book Reviews [Read/Download All]
Killeen, Jarlath, ed. Bram Stoker: Centenary Essays. Review by Joy Bracewell.
Budge, Gavin. Romanticism, Medicine, and the Natural Supernatural. Review by Emma Butcher.
Elbert, Monika, and Bridget M. Marshall, eds. Transnational Gothic: Literary and Social Exchanges in the Long Nineteenth Century. Review by Kevin Corstorphine.
Wynne, Catherine. Bram Stoker, Dracula, and the Victorian Gothic Stage. Review by Matthew Crofts.
Montillo, Roseanne. The Lady and Her Monsters: A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankensteins, and the Creation of Mary Shelley's Masterpiece. Review by Michelle Gifford.
O'Briain, Helen Conrad, and Julie Anne Stevens, eds. The Ghost Story from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century. Review by Janine Hatter.
Makala, Melissa Edmundson. Women's Ghost Literature in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Review by Nicole Lobdell.
Gibson, Matthew. The Fantastic and European Gothic: History, Literature and the French Revolution. Review by Carol A. Senf.
Gimes, Hilary. The Late Victorian Gothic: Mental Science, the Uncanny and Scenes of Writing. Review by Victoria Samantha Dawson.
To buy print copy of issue:
Volume 2, Issue 1 (Spring 2015): Special Issue: Television and the Supernatural
Guest Editor: Marisa C. Hayes
Introduction, by Marisa C. Hayes (7-10).
Supernatural Potentialities and Household Technologies: Communication Devices Gone Wild in Tales of Tomorrow and The Twilight Zone, by Kylo-Patrick R. Hart (11-21).
Ghostwatch: Supernatural and Technological Presence in Early 1990s Britain, by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (22-33).
Wandering Wesen: Immigration as Adaptation in Grimm, by Angela Tenga (34-46).
"Three days of the month I'm not much fun to be around either": Werewolves and the Gendered Body in Buffy, True Blood, and Grimm, by Rachael Johnstone (47-61).
Ghosts in the Machine: Fringe Bodies, by Lisa K. Perdigao (62-74).
Writing the Winchesters: Embodies Inscriptions and the Bleeding Text(s) of Supernatural, by Najwa Al-Tabaa and Katherine Shaeffer (75-88).
Television Series Review Essays
The Twilight Zone, rev. by Guillaume Lecomte.
Dark Shadows, rev. by Drew Beard.
Tales from the Dark Side, rev. by Drew Beard.
Twin Peaks, rev. by Franck Boulégue.
The X-Files, rev. by Angela Bayout.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, rev. by Andrew Howe.
Charmed, rev. by Laura Lott.
Lost, rev. by Kristine Larsen.
Being Human (UK), rev. by Laura Lott.
True Blood, rev. by Shara Clark.
The Walking Dead, rev. by M. Lee Brown.
American Horror Story, rev. by Shara Clark.
The Returned (Les Revenants), rev. by Emeline Morin.
Printed copies of this issue are sold out, and OA permissions have not yet been secured, but a PDF copy of the contents may be purchased for $2 USD.
Volume 1, Issue 1 (Summer 2013)
Volume 1, Issue 1 (Summer 2013)
Editors: Margo Collins and Deborah Christie
The Bloodsucking Brady Bunch: The Lost Boys and the Single-Parent Family, by Jeremy Tirrell (7-16).
The Witch, the Cauldron, and the Inverted Cooking Ritual, by Allene Nichols (17-30).
Undead America:The Emergence of the Modern Zombie in American Culture, by Daniel Compora (31-38).
(Re)Visiting and (Re)Visioning the Self/Other Divide in Science Fiction Transmutations of the Gothic, by Janine Hatter (39-52).
“Darkness has too much to offer”: Revising the Gothic Vampire, by Sara Cleto (53-64).
A Structure Without a Center: Is “Monster TV” a Heart of Darkness?, by James Keller (65-79). [Read/Download]
Bella and the Beast: When Vampires Fall in Love, or the Twilight of a Genre, by Marko Lukić and Ljubica Matek (80-92). [Read/Download]
Samuel, Lawrence R. Supernatural America: A Cultural History. Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2011, rev. by Adam M. Crowley.
Lázaro-Reboll, Antonio. Spanish Horror Film. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012, rev. by Robert L. Turner III.
Dendle, Peter. The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia, Volume 2: 2000-2010. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, 2012, rev. by Janine Hatter.
Cherry, Brigid, ed. True Blood: Investigating Vampires and Southern Gothic. London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2012, rev. by Marion Gibson.
Poole, W., Scott. Monsters in America: Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and the Haunting. Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2011, rev. by Peter J. Maurits.
Gecser, Ottó, József Laszlovszky, Balázs Nagy, Marcell Sebők,Katalin Szende, eds. Promoting the Saints: Cults and Their Contexts in Late Antiquity until the Early Modern Period, CEU Medievalia 12. Budapest: Central European University Press, 2011, rev. by Sara Williams.
Smajić, Srdjan. Ghost-Seers, Detectives, and Spiritualists: Theories of Vision in Victorian Literature and Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010, rev. by Derek Johnston.
McClelland, Clive. Ombra: Supernatural Music in the Eighteenth Century. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2012, rev. by Stephanie Pietros.
McMahon-Coleman, Kimberley and Roslyn Weaver. Werewolves and Other Shapeshifters in Popular Culture: A Thematic Analysis of Recent Depictions. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2012, rev. by Alysa Hornick.
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