Volume 6, Issue 1

(Fall 2019)


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Cover image: “Will o the Wisp” by Gwillieth (Aelin Laer), https://www.deviantart.com/ gwillieth/art/Will-o-the-Wisp-646912743, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Editors' Note, by Leah Richards and John R. Ziegler (7-8)

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Strange Days in the Anthropocene: The Inhuman in "The Colour out of Space" and Annihilation, by Jan Čapek (9-25)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

Choose a PDF with all in reviews 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.

Contributors*

Mary Bricker earned her doctorate from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is assistant professor of German at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Her research and teaching spans eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century German literature. Her scholarship has also appeared in Neophilologus, PsyArt Journal, the Yearbook of German-American Studies, and Bakhtiniana. She is also a member of the Bakhtiniana editorial board.

Jan Čapek is a PhD candidate at the Department of English and American studies at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. His current doctoral research is concerned with a theoretical investigation into the processes of commodifying anxiety in the figures of the undead, specifically vampires and zombies, in the film and fiction of late-capitalist North America. He has devised and taught courses, as well as written and presented, on horror and sci-fi film and fiction.

Damian Shaw completed his PhD on the writings of Thomas Pringle in 1997 (Cambridge University). He joined the University of Macau in 2008. He has also lectured in South Africa (1997-2002) and Quanzhou (2002-2008) in English Literature. He has published on Thomas Pringle, colonial writing of the Romantic and Victorian eras (including poetry, travel writing, and anti-slavery literature), as well as on gothic fiction.

Chris Woodyard is an Ohio writer and historian. She is the author of nine books on Ohio ghost-lore, as well as three volumes on historical ghost stories and The Victorian Book of the Dead, a book on the popular and material culture of Victorian mourning and death.

Simon Young is a British folklore historian based in Italy with a longstanding interest in the study of the supernatural. He is presently concluding a book, The Boggart: A Study in Shadows, for Exeter University Press.


*These notes appear on page 104 of the print issue.