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The Gothic

A Reader

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Edited By Simon Bacon

What is the Gothic?

From ghosts to vampires, from ruined castles to steampunk fashion, the Gothic is a term that evokes all things strange, haunted and sinister.

This volume offers a new look at the world of the Gothic, from its origins in the eighteenth century to its reemergence today. Each short essay is dedicated to a single text – a novel, a film, a comic book series, a festival – that serves as a lens to explore the genre. Original readings of classics like The Mysteries of Udolpho (Ann Radcliffe) and Picnic at Hanging Rock (Joan Lindsay) are combined with unique insights into contemporary examples like the music of Mexican rock band Caifanes, the novels Annihilation (Jeff VanderMeer), Goth (Otsuichi) and The Paying Guests (Sarah Waters), and the films Crimson Peak (Guillermo del Toro) and Ex Machina (Alex Garland).

Together the essays provide innovative ways of understanding key texts in terms of their Gothic elements. Invaluable for students, teachers and fans alike, the book’s accessible style allows for an engaging look at the spectral and uncanny nature of the Gothic.

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Aideen Barry’s Possession (2011) – Suburban/Domestic Gothic (Tracy Fahey)

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Tracy Fahey

Aideen Barry’s Possession (2011)

Figure 18. Aiden Barry, Possession, 2011. Video still. Reproduced with kind permission of the artist Aideen Barry.

A woman’s head lies half-buried in an avalanche of cakes, face smeared in icing. From the debris, one eye looks about, signalling a moment of lucidity; a sense that the protagonist is aware of the strange spectacle she presents. This is a still from Possession (2011), Irish artist Aideen Barry’s live stop-motion animation film about greed, anxiety, confinement, and excess. In this single shot Barry appears as both protagonist and filmmaker. As she says herself: ← 111 | 112 →

Possession is all about control, a weird control where I’m operating in front of the camera and behind the camera at the same time. In this shot I was manipulating the cakes on the table and checking that the camera was still in focus in the mirror angled to reflect it – I’m both subsumed and in control. (Fahey 2017)

This one image signals the marvellous duality of Barry’s Gothic vision of suburban domesticity. It is made by a woman experiencing the confines of the Irish home who is also a female artist forging an angry, potent expose of the existence of this suburban domestic dystopia in contemporary culture. As a piece it offers a link to the tradition of Female Domestic Gothic, analysed by both Gilbert and Gubar’s The Madwoman in the Attic (1979) and Ellis’s The...

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