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The Gothic

A Reader


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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Sarah Waters’s The Paying Guests (2014) – Postfeminist Gothic (Gina Wisker)


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Gina Wisker

Sarah Waters’s The Paying Guests (2014)

There is unfinished dark business at the core of Postfeminist Gothic and, particularly, Sarah Waters’s The Paying Guests (2014).This dark business is a grim and necessary reminder that the complacency in ‘post’ sells short crucial, topical work for the Gothic and Postfeminist Gothic in exposing oppressive relations of gender and power, with or without favourite supernatural figures of vampire, werewolf, mermaid, and more everyday monsters. Both feminism and the Gothic reveal culturally and temporally contextualized scenarios, values, actions of disempowerment, silencing, otherizing. The active role of Postfeminist Gothic tackles the continuation of such inequalities and violence, sometimes offering speculative, new hope, and sometimes closing down all such hope as mere escapist dreams, mere speculation.

There is a great deal of discussion about postfeminism, and postfeminist writing. As Rosi Braidotti notes, ‘Post-modern Gothic and post-gender sexualities are haunting the imaginary of post-industrial societies’ (Braidotti 2002: 87). Interpretation of the word ‘post’ suggests afterwards, beyond, as though now the old beliefs and values of feminist work, which has gender and values at its core, is swept away, passed (Meyers 2001). What we will see in a postfeminist text perhaps is something that has moved on, finding feminism too harsh, abrasive, sharp and certainly outdated. After all, haven’t the old battles all been won? There is equality in terms of economics (pay), rights, and representation no longer commodifies or objectifies women’s bodies. Writing this is...

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