[page 7] Hauntings, as we know, can take a variety of forms: they may be personal or communal; they may be tied to a place or to an object; they may be deserved or just dumb (bad) luck. Such variations in form speak to variations in socio-historical anxieties inscribed within representations of ghosts and hauntings, which in turn represent a failure of repression on any or all of these levels, from personal to national. Ghosts and hauntings provide our theme for this issue of Supernatural Studies, and the essays that follow pick up threads in hauntings’ representations of repression and return that extend into areas including gender, psychology, technology, and economics, and which are always knit together through history. Meanwhile their juxtaposition itself produces a ghostly but productive interstitial dialogue.
To begin this issue, Denise Burkhard brings attention to the mechanics of trauma in the neo-Victorian novel The Woman in Black, by the underexamined Susan Hill. Burkhard contextualizes the experiences and marginalization of the novel’s protagonist through the developing concept of post-traumatic stress disorder. Dara Downey takes us across the Atlantic and offers a valuable corrective to the dominance of psychoanalytic readings of individuals in scholarship on haunted houses in American literature. She highlights the lack, by American haunted houses in opposition to their Old-World counterparts, of “any kind of definitive history, horrific or otherwise,” producing spaces that have become evil completely on their own. Amy Bride does see the house in Bret Easton Ellis’s novel Lunar Park as haunted by history, specifically the equity debt crisis in the United States; and she argues that it belongs to an emerging subcategory of “late-capitalist hyper-gothic” that unsettles reality for both characters and readers. Raechel Dumas examines the rise of the “virtual-feminine haunting” in Japanese media, which she positions as an effect of Japan’s complex, equivocal relationship with technology and as a contrast to its more common coding of technology as hyper-masculine and militaristic. Dumas notes the influence of the Second World War on Japanese horror's challenges to patriarchal systems and national identity, and it is through atrocities carried out by the Japanese military in WWII that Sigmund Shen reads Koji Suzuki’s novel Ring and its film adaptations. He locates these works within a nexus of traumatic history, national consciousness, scientific experimentation, and conflicts over witnessing and public discourse. Closing the issue is a fascinating meditation by Joshua Adair on the “poetics of the dead” passed down to him by the women in his family. Adair interweaves family and personal history in [page 8] order to consider how the spectral informs subjectivity and personal epistemology, even, in his own case, as a non-believing queer academic.
Looking beyond this issue, the Supernatural Studies editors are working with our Scholarly Communications staff to expand the journal’s indexing and archive presence by Spring 2017, making the valuable work of its contributors more widely and easily accessible. We are also in the initial planning stages for our first annual conference, to be held in New York City. As always, the best place to keep up with the latest news is at www.supernaturalstudies.com, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you, as always, for reading,
Leah Richards and John R. Ziegler