Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!
We live in Gothic times but the principle of hope will emerge from the darkness.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!
We live in Gothic times but the principle of hope will emerge from the darkness.
I’ve left this a bit late, I know, but I want to express our mourning over Anne Rice, who died 11 December 2021. Rice’s novel Interview with the Vampire (1976) is, as I’m sure you’ll know, a pivotal moment in vampire fiction. Along with Neil Jordan’s 1994 adaptation of the novel into film, Interview is one of the key texts in the establishment of the humanised vampire and, notably, the vampire as lover paving the way for the genre of paranormal romance that we at OGOM have paid special attention to since the beginning of the Project. That encounter between the modes of horror and romance is central to our revisionist approach to Gothic studies. Rice’s vampires are not only lovers but polymorphously perversely so, challenging social constraints and emancipating the realm of diversity from its relegation to Otherness.
More vampire novels followed, beginning with The Vampire Lestat (1985) and eventually forming the Vampire Chronicles series. She also radically reformed other conventional monsters, such as witches (Lives of the Mayfair Witches series), mummies (Ramses the Damned series), and werewolves (in the Wolf Gift Chronicles). She also wrote erotic novels, in particular reworking the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ tale into the Sleeping Beauty Quartet under the penname of A. N. Roquelaure (the transformation of fairy tale is another area of research that OGOM are involved in).
The humanised vampirism that Rice helped inaugurate is a central theme of Dr Sam George’s pioneering MA module, Reading the Vampire; she has taught Interview with the Vampire on that course for over ten years. You can hear Sam celebrating the life and work of Anne Rice on BBC Radio 4’s Last Word here.
An assortment of conference CFPs and calls for articles, plus online events.
Older women have traditionally been portrayed negatively in folklore, fairy tales, literature and film, for example. Images of witches, evil stepmothers, shrivelled, bitter ‘spinsters’, and vindictive, bullying women abusing positions of power are rife in Western culture. Yet, perhaps things are changing. A new emphasis on the need to discuss and understand the menopause seems to be at the heart of this. This conference examines historical representations of the ‘crone’ in relation to crime and Gothic narratives. But it also looks ahead and globally to examine other types of discourses and representations. Bringing older women to the fore of the discussion, this conference aims to go global and really shake up the way that the ‘crone’ is thought about and symbolized.
This major interdisciplinary international conference aims to examine and expand debates around vampires in all their many aspects. We therefore invite researchers from a range of academic backgrounds to re/consider vampires as a phenomenon that reaches across multiple sites of production and consumption, from literature and film to theatre and games to music and fashion and beyond. What accounts for this Gothic character’s undying popular appeal, even in today’s postmodern, digital, commercialized world? How does vampirism circulate within and comment upon mass culture?
Following the Through the Looking Glass Sesquicentenary Conference, we invite submissions for a Companion to Through the Looking-Glass of short pieces (4000 words), centring around Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, its cultural and adaptation history, and its ongoing relevance until today.
Today, Blake’s global presence cannot be underestimated. The aim of this project is to showcase the wide variety of global ‘Blakes’ (after Morris Eaves’s “On Blakes We Want and Blakes We Don’t”, 1995, and Mike Goode’s “Blakespotting”, 2006) and to provide an overview of the appropriations and rewritings as well as examples, that fall into three categories: art, literature and music. It will examine how Blake’s global audiences have responded to his poetry and art as well as explore what these specific, non-British responses and cultural and social legacies can bring to the study of Blake.
As we approach the 2022 Shelley Conference, we invite Shelley scholars, students, and admirers from around the world to take part in #Shelley200. Join us for a series of free online events celebrating Percy Bysshe Shelley’s life, works, and legacy. Book tickets for live events, and view the recordings of past events.
After the success of the first Digital Burns Night Supper, this event is returning in 2022. Our virtual Burns Night will follow the order of toasts and entertainments at a traditional Burns Supper to structure an academic event celebrating Burns, Scotland, and Romanticism. We invite the audience to come prepared with examples of poetry to read aloud or perform.
Our participants include Andrew McInnes (Edge Hill University), Jennifer Orr (Newcastle University), Gerard McKeever (University of Stirling), Rita Dashwood (Edge Hill University), Zayneb Allak (Edge Hill University), Ainsley McIntosh (Independent scholar), and Angela Wright (University of Sheffield).
Some calls for articles in journals and edited collections. Be warned that the deadline for the Murder, She Wrote collection is very soon–15 December 2021!
Call for critical essays to be included in a collection on Murder, She Wrote, which we are proposing for inclusion in Routledge’s Advances in Popular Culture series.
This edited collection will offer a critical overview of the series and its cultural impact, including perspectives on paratextual elements which have grown around the TV show, including board games, video games, podcasts, fan conventions, collectible figures, and a series of ghostwritten novels ‘authored’ by fictional series star Jessica Fletcher. The collection will also explore the series’ position within the crime genre, particularly as it relates to and engages with earlier iterations of the ‘lady detective’.
In this issue, we are interested in documenting how the supernatural shapes various global cities and the cultural practices that inform how urban places are represented, identified, and transformed into spaces of supernatural engagement.
In addition to a general call for creative pieces on the urban supernatural we invite audio and written submissions of supernatural folktales from cities across the globe. These submissions will form a written and audio catalogue of supernatural stories informing an exploration of the connections and diversity of stories in international urban environments.
We also invite reviews of books, films, games, and art related to supernatural cities. Given the special issues focus, reviews of supernatural tourism activities and events from around the world are most welcome.
This special issue will re-evaluate the horror genre in the 1980s and the legacy of this decade in contemporary horror studies. While many disparage the decade as a period of soulless commercialism, avid consumerism and the decade that fashion forgot, the 1980s introduced new modes of communication, new commercial appreciation for horror texts, and is now, in contemporary times, suffused with a sense of nostalgia. The seeds of discontent in our contentious and fractured present were sown in the 1980s, making it an important if divisive decade.
This special issue is open to submissions on any geographical region or emphasis which evaluates or (re)considers the impact of horror in the 1980s.
Some interesting online events coming up along with some prerecorded ones, plus another Byron CFP. Be warned: the first two events are very soon–Monday and Tuesday!
For the November Gothic Women seminar, we will be looking into Radcliffe’s identity as an author beyond just The Mysteries of Udolpho and exploring her legacy in the Gothic at large.
Elizabeth Bobbitt, Ann Radcliffe: Looking Beyond the 1790s to Radcliffe’s Later Works
Deborah Russell, The Politics of Place in The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne
Angela Wright, The Afterlives of The Mysteries of Udolpho
What is a mermaid? Nothing so simple as a woman with a fish’s tail. Mythology, symbolism, literature, art, folktale and ballad have all influenced her development, and male attitudes to women are key to both her vulnerability and her power. A talk by Sophia Kingshill.
Postponed since 2020, this conference aptly marks the bicentenary of a troubling year plagued by loss. George III had lost his life and, many would argue, George IV lost what little shreds remained of his dignity, pursuing his errant wife with hypocritical vengeance during the so-called Queen Caroline Affair. The monarchy and government had lost the trust of the people, and many of them would have lost their lives had the Cato Street Conspiracy succeeded. Meanwhile Byron, now in the fourth year of his self-imposed exile, was rapidly losing his hair, teeth, famous good looks, and – some might argue – his dignity. It is against this backdrop that he became interested in Italian politics, or rather the loss of political authority and national autonomy. To mark the year of 1820, and in recognition of the troubling experiences of the past two years, we welcome papers considering the theme of Byron and loss.
Ken Russell’s Gothic: Tone, Mode and the Limits of Art-Horror
Virgins and Vampires: Jean Rollin’s Female Transgressors and Gothic Subversion
Race and the Gothic Past in Jewell Gomez’s The Gilda Stories
and Tananarive Due’s My Soul to Keep
Painting with Light in Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark: Vampires, Chiaroscuro, and a New Type of Gothic
This event took place on 1 November 2021 but is available on line.
Join us on Monday, November 1, at 8:00 pm EST, in celebration of Fèt Gede (Haitian Day of the Dead), Dr. Samuel Cruz and Nyya Flores Toussaint ’19 will host a discussion about how Haiti’s social, political, and spiritual context is wrongly contextualized as being a result of the 1791 Vodou ceremony at Bwa Kayiman that marked the beginning of the Slave Rebellion and Haitian Revolution.
Since Haiti’s successful establishment of the second nation-state in the Americas, Bwa Kayiman has been falsely claimed as Haiti making a pact with the devil in order to be emancipated and independent. This conversation will critically analyze the role imperialism, Christianity, and anti-Blackness have had on Haiti’s current politics, history, and spirituality.
Some exciting CFPs for forthcoming conferences. The one we have all been waiting for, the International Gothic Association 2022 conference in Dublin is out at last!
** Note that the deadline for the Angela Carter symposium is very soon–30 November.
1. Gothic Interruptions, 16th International Gothic Association Conference, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, 26-29 July 2022. Deadline: 31 January 2022
While it would be easy to become mired in the plethora of challenging and destabilising events around us, IGA 2022 adopts the conference theme ‘Gothic Interruptions’ in order to encourage an interrogation of the ways in which Gothic and horror frame can frame such contemporary (and historical) events as moments that are also loaded with possibility. How do these Gothic circumstances, terrifying as they may be, lead to change, looking toward new futures? How might they link to the ludic or cathartic potential of the Gothic as a mode which is itself forever evolving?
2. New Romanticisms, British Association of Romantic Studies / North American Society for the Study of Romanticism conference, Edge Hill University, 2-5 August 2022. Deadline: 13 December 2021
‘New Romanticisms’ invites explorations of both the concept of newness in and about the Romantic period and new approaches to Romantic Studies today. The title for the conference also plays on the term ‘New Romantics’, referring to post-punk bands of the late 1970s and 1980s influenced by Romantic-period aesthetics, especially ‘dandy’ fashions (roughly equivalent to ‘new wave’ artists in America). The conference organisers are therefore particularly interested in responses to the call for papers which think about Romantic legacies and receptions in music, theatre, pop culture, and beyond. We would also welcome areas of research distinct from literary and cultural studies, which might include, but is not limited to: art history, material culture, cultural heritage, public engagement, and knowledge exchange.
3. Dracula and Beyond: Vampiric Anniversaries, online conference, 29-30 October 2022. Deadline: 30 June 2022
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) is one of the most famous novels written in English. The interest it arises in scholars, artists and the general public alike is rarely equalled by other narratives. The numerous approaches given to the analysis of Stoker’s best text range from the historical figures of Vlad the Impaler and Elizabeth Báthory to the Victorian Gothic among others. This online conference celebrates the anniversaries of Bram Stoker’s ground-breaking Dracula and its film adaptations Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992).
4. Byron: Poet and Reade, 47th International Byron Conference, The A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences & The Maxim Gorky Institute of Literature and Creative Writing, Moscow, Russia, 26 June-3 July 2022. Deadline: 14 February 2022
The theme of this conference is “Poet & Reader”, where Byron himself might be perceived as an acute and genuine reader of texts composed in different modes and languages. There are also readers of Byron, who were inspired by the poet’s brisk and alluring verse style and his commitment to liberty and freedom. Famous writers, revolutionaries, philosophers, historians, artists, composers, travelers, and inventors belong to the international community known as Byron’s readership. Some of them claimed that they had learned English in order to read Byron in the original. Special attention will be given to the Russian reception of Byron and his works.
5. Angela Carter: A Radical Prescience?, symposium, The Centre for Fairy Tales, Fantasy and Speculative Fiction at the University of Chichester, 5 March 2022. Deadline: 30 November 2021
The symposium will mark the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Angela Carter, whose reputation as a leading British writer of fantastical literature remains undiminished three decades after her untimely passing. Its theme also reflects the new decolonial and multi-genre direction of the Centre. In face-to-face and online events, we will highlight, celebrate and interrogate Angela Carter’s legacy, wrestle with her angels and demons, and pickpocket im/pertinent answers to a wealth of questions.
6. Fantasy and escape in romance and romantic media, PCA Romance area, Virtual PCA National Conference (on line), 13-16 April 2022. Deadline: 5 December 2021. Accepts undergraduate submissions.
Felski highlights a core pleasure of the romance genre: an escape from the everyday, to a place where something that is often considered fantastical – true love – is possible. However, “escapism” is also the criticism most frequently levied against romance narratives, with realism held up as the ideal. Because romances engage with this fantasy and provide this escape, they are idealistic, not realistic – and thus, for some commentators, imagined as socially irresponsible or even deleterious to their audiences (audiences usually assumed to be predominantly female).
Lady Caroline Lamb, whose birthday it would have been on 13 November (I’m a bit late!), famously judged Lord Byron ‘Mad, bad, and dangerous’, having had a brief and tempestuous affair with him. This relationship inspired her novel Glenarvon (1816), which is usually read as a roman à clef which enacts revenge on Byron and, with its sharp satire on her own social circle, led to scandal and her public shaming. Lamb, who was a fine mimic of Byronism (and Byron himself) was herself perhaps a little mad, denounced as bad, and had an aura of danger about her.
But Glenarvon can be read as more than an act of personal revenge. It’s a compelling (though wild and excessive in parts) Gothic novel that also delves into political issue, particularly with its setting of the Irish Rebellion of 1798. The Byronic figure of the titular hero, Glenarvon, also known as Lord Ruthven, serves as a critique of Byron’s own ambivalent radicalism (and of his Whiggish peers). And the social satire is acute and very amusing.
Glenarvon is characterised with the melancholy nobility and satanic allure of the classic Byronic hero; he is ‘arch fiend’ and ‘fallen angel’, and howls at the moon (his ancestor drinks blood from a skull). He takes part in the anti-colonial Irish Rebellion, inciting the people with his rhetoric and personal charm. Glenarvon’s political persuasiveness is linked to his sexual glamour. Glenarvon’s women themselves become Byronic, denouncing God, family, and society, and swearing satanic vows of abjuration; Byronism is an infection, like vampirism. Glenarvon ultimately betrays both his women lovers and Ireland, yet remains an inspirational force, though the rebellions of transgressive women and nation are both doomed. With all these conflicting forces, Lamb’s novel shifts between an anti-Jacobin stance and radicalism.
John Polidori took the name Lord Ruthven for his creation of the first vampire in English prose fiction, possibly his own revenge on Byron, in the novella The Vampyre (1819). Glenarvon himself anticipates the vampirism of his avatar in Polidori and also a whole strand of Gothic-tinged fictions that feature a seductive demonic lover as hero, from the Brontës, through the Gothic Romances initiated by Daphne du Maurier that peaked during the 1970s, to the vampiric lovers in contemporary paranormal romance such as Stephenie Mayers’s Twilight. So it’s not as inappropriate as it seems to see Glenarvon in this dramatically kitsch cover, an edition from 1973 in the Empress Gothics series. (Compare this to these Gothic Romance novels discussed here.)
Lady Caroline Lamb’s own colourful and emotionally fraught life, even without the self-dramatisation she performs in Glenarvon, had enough wildness and pathos to furnish a romance story – as this 1968 novel by Eva McDonald shows. Yet, with its clumsy appropriation of Lamb’s life as a contrived subplot to the dreadful main story, this is not the best tribute to her neglected genius.
Polidori’s revision of Ruthven strips away Lamb’s ambivalence, but by clearly marking the aristocratic demon lover as both Byronic and a vampire, inaugurates a literary archetype. Yet many of Ruthven’s descendants, both those that are only metaphorically vampiric and the more explicit incarnations in paranormal romance, resurrect the alluring mix of rebellion and faithlessness that Lamb depicted. I will be writing on this in a chapter in OGOM’s forthcoming book, The Romantic vampyre and its progeny: The legacy of John Polidori, edited by myself and Sam George. This book comes out of our 2019 symposium, ‘Some curious disquiet’: Polidori, the Byronic vampire, and its progeny. We now have the contract for this with Manchester University Press and I promise it will be very exciting – more details soon!
Halloween is finally here! @DrSamGeorge1, The ‘Coffin Boffin’, would like to thank all those who have accompanied her on this Gothtober Halloween journey. If you are still to view the gothic wonders she has uncover, click to enjoy her spooky #Halloween Twitter ‘moment’ HERE!!
When most people think about fairies, they perhaps picture the sparkling Tinker Bell from Peter Pan or the other heartwarming and cute fairies and fairy godmothers that populate many Disney movies and children’s cartoons. But these creatures have much darker origins – and were once thought to be more like undead blood-sucking vampires.
In The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies (1682), folklorist Robert Kirk argued that fairies are “the dead”, or of “a middle nature betwixt man and angels”. This association is particularly prominent in Celtic lore. Writing in 1887, Lady Jane Wilde popularised the Irish belief that:
fairies are the fallen angels who were cast down by the Lord God out of heaven for their sinful pride…and the devil gives to these knowledge and power and sends them on earth where they work much evil.
At first sight the current innocent idea of fairyland seems as far away from the shadowy realms of the dead, and yet there are many resemblances between them. Despite their wands and glitter, fairies have a dark history and surprisingly gothic credentials. So why did we lose our fear of fairies and how did they come to be associated with childhood?
When JM Barrie’s Peter Pan debuted in the early 1900s, it was widely believed in society at that time that fairies were inhabited a shadowy spirit world. Fascinated by angels, ghosts and vampires, Victorians (subsequently Edwardians) increasingly saw fairies as the souls of the dead. Rather than dispelling fairies, the First World War and the loss of many loved ones heightened a belief in airy spirits and occult methods of communicating with them.
However, due to Peter Pan’s great success and the prominent “pixie” character of Tinker Bell the creatures would eventually lose their malevolence as they became confined to the nursery.
Barrie famously equated the origin of fairies with children:
When the first baby laughed…its laugh broke into a thousand pieces…that was the beginning of fairies.
This is far from the malevolent fairies and their shadowy history in folklore. In these stories they steal children, drive people insane, blight cattle and crops – and drink human blood. Barrie, of course, was aware of their dark side. Despite the fairy dust and glamour, Tinker Bell is dangerous and vengeful like a deadly fairy temptress. At one point in the story, she even threatens to kill Wendy.
Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up, debuted on stage at Christmas in 1904. It was inspired by performing fairies in popular shows such as Seymour Hicks’s Bluebell in Fairyland. Peter Pan was canonised by Disney in 1953 and the sentimental celluloid fairy was born. The cutesy and youthful fairies of contemporary children’s TV are a result of this Disneyfication.
People walking alone by night, especially through fairy-haunted places, had many ways of protecting themselves. The first might be sacred symbols, by making the sign of a cross, or by carrying a cross, particularly one made of iron; by prayers, or the chanting of hymns, by holy water, sprinkled or carried, and by carrying and strewing Churchyard mould in their path. Bread and salt were also effective, and both were regarded as sacred symbols, one of life and the other of eternity.
What is more, fairyland has a hunger for human blood. This links fairies to the vengeful dead and to vampires. In early accounts, vampires are defined as the bodies of the dead, animated by evil spirits, which come out of their graves in the night, suck the blood the living and thereby destroy them – as an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary from 1734 notes.
Diane Purkiss’s history of fairies includes a Scottish Highland legend which warns that you must bring water into the house at night, so the fairies don’t quench their thirst with your blood. Very old fairies, like vampires, were said to wrinkle and dry up without fresh blood.
The Baobhan Sith are vampiric Scottish fairies. These beautiful green banshees have hooves instead of feet, they dance with and exhaust their male victims then tear them to pieces. Like many fairies, they can be killed with iron.
Dearg-Due are Irish vampiric fairies or “Red Blood Suckers”. They were thought to be influential on Sheridan Le Fanu’s female vampire tale Carmilla (1871).
Halloween is supposedly a time when the veil between our world and the shadow world is extremely thin. A time when you are more likely to hear stories of encounters between humans and fairies. So if this Halloween you go seeking winged friends, a warning to the curious, they might not be as sweet as you think.
Tread carefully and never enter a fairy ring. Circles of mushrooms, they are believed to have been created by fairies dancing in rounds. According to folklore, if you do happen to step into such a circle of mushrooms, you may become invisible and be made to dance around until you die of exhaustion. So a healthy fear of fairies is always wise.
Unlike Dracula’s cold cuts, this traditional Hungarian dish – also known as Paprika Hendl – is a warm welcome in a bowl, thick, rich and shot through with the subtle smokiness of paprika. Jonathan Harker loves it so much, in fact, that he writes in his diary a memo to “get recipe for Mina”.
Serve the pink-sauced stew spooned over ribbons of black tagliatelle – usually coloured by squid ink or activated charcoal – for full Gothic effect. It’ll taste just as lovely accompanied by noodles, potatoes or rice, though. Or simply eat it with a spoon, perhaps with some chunky bread to mop up the sauce.
For a vegetarian version, try roasting squash and mushrooms until tender and add to the pan in place of the chicken after step 2, simmering for 15-20 minutes until the sauce is nicely reduced.
Make it dairy-free or vegan by substituting a nut butter and cashew cream.
2 tbsp olive oil
500g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into strips
2 tbsp butter
1 onion, sliced into fine strips
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or minced
3 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp hot paprika
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
350ml of chicken or vegetable stock
150ml sour cream
Black tagliatelle, to serve (optional)
1. Gently heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or stewpot and add the chicken, cooking for around 4-5 minutes on each side to brown. Remove and set aside.
2. Using the same pan, reduce heat and add the butter. Once melted, add the onion, garlic and pepper, cooking for a minute before adding the paprika.
3. Return the chicken to the pan, add the tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes before adding the stock. Bring back to a simmer, cover and cook on a low-medium heat for around half an hour, until the chicken is tender and the sauce is nicely reduced. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to packet instructions.
4. Combine a few ladlefuls of the sauce with the sour cream, then add back to the pan, stirring gently. Continue cooking until heated through, and serve over the pasta – or your chosen accompaniment.
A Gothic Cookbook is an illustrated celebration of food and drink in Gothic literature, discussing edible motifs and the significance of food in novels and short stories including Frankenstein, Dracula, Jane Eyre, Rebecca and The Haunting of Hill House.
The book, written by Ella Buchan and Alessandra Pino and with original drawings by Lee Henry, is signed with Unbound Publishing, which works by crowdfunding the initial production costs.
People can help make the book a physical, cloth-bound being by reserving a copy and merchandise with original artwork, such as posters, dinner party kits, limited-edition cocktail booklets and bespoke pet portraits. More information about the book, its authors and recipes – and how you can support – is here: https://unbound.com/books/a-gothic-cookbook/