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Gothic Metamorphoses across the Centuries

Contexts, Legacies, Media

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Edited By Maurizio Ascari, Serena Baiesi and David Levente Palatinus

This collection of essays brings together an international team of scholars with the aim to shed new light on various interconnected aspects of the Gothic through the lens of converging critical and methodological approaches. With its wide-ranging interdisciplinary perspective, the book explores the domains of literary, pictorial, filmic, televisual and popular cultural texts in English from the eighteenth century to the present day. Within these pages, the Gothic is discussed as a dynamic form that exceeds the concept of literary genre, proving able to renovate and adapt through constant processes of hybridisation. Investigating the hypothesis that the Gothic returns in times of cultural crisis, this study maps out transgressive and experimental modes conducive to alternative experiences of the intricacies of the human (and post-human) condition.

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Humans and Machines: Gothic Legacy and the Screen of the Anthropocene1

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Abstract: This chapter re-assesses the role Gothic legacy plays in contemporary film and television narratives of the Anthropocene, especially as regards human-machine interaction and possible interpretations of the (post-)human condition. The past decade has seen a proliferation of narratives depicting intersections between human and nonhuman (machine and / or animal). Such metamorphoses, both at a conceptual as well as a bio-technological level, render the future of the embodiment of the Uncanny par excellence – something that is both familiar/homely, and alien/fearful. This juxtaposition of the “tremendum” and the “fascinosum” mobilizes the iconographic and narrative legacy of the Gothic. Apart from mobilizing the formulas of Gothic-infused sci-fi fantasy, they shift attention from what intelligent machines can do to us to what humans can do to intelligent / sentient machines. I will argue that films like Blade Runner, Blade Runner 2049 and Ex Machina, or television programs like Humans, Extant, Westworld shift the focus from a future entity that will have learned to adapt to and navigate a radically changed ecosystem to the re-inscription of the all-too-human practices of racial and colonial stereotyping of hybridinal entities that are always-already haunted by the spectre of the Gothic.

Keywords: posthuman, television, spectrality, AnthropoScreen, sentience.

“[…] unless we endeavour to think the concept species differently, which is to say think humankind as a planetary totality without the soppy and oppressive universalism and difference erasure that usually implies, we will have ceded an entire scale—the scale of the biosphere, no...

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