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All that Gothic


Edited By Agnieszka Lowczanin and Dorota Wisniewska

This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the history, aesthetics and key themes of Gothic, the main issues and debates surrounding the genre along with the approaches and theories that have been applied to Gothic texts and films. The volume discusses a wide range of 18 th and 19 th century texts and moves into 20 th century literature and film. It explores the cultural resonances created by the genre and raises a variety of issues, including the ways in which Gothic monstrosity mimics same-sex desire and social transgression. The texts included in the volume argue that Gothic film and fiction animated the darker shadows of the dominant culture.
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Gothic Subversions of Heterosexual Matrix in Sarah Waters’s Affinity


Barbara Braid

Gothic fiction and non-heteronormativity seem to have a lot in common. Paulina Palmer observes that they both employ excess as a mode of expression (“Lesbian Gothic” 118); the function of excess in the gothic is to question the stability of known reality and show its conventional nature, while the queer excess disrupts the compulsory heterosexuality inscribed in culture and shows the performative nature of gender identity. One might also say that the transgression of established binary oppositions, like sacred/profane, sane/mad, real/unreal, normal/abnormal, good/evil, etc. (Jenks 2) is what characterises gothic fiction as well as gender subversion, which overcomes the established male/female dichotomy. However, when discussing the gothic as a genre fit to subvert heteronormativity, or, what Butler calls a heterosexual matrix, one has to tackle the problem of the traditional gothic plot, which is primarily a heterosexual and a patriarchal one (Parker 8). Thus, a lesbian gothic writer needs to subvert the gothic plot in order to be able to use the gothic motifs as vehicles of gender subversion. In this paper I will examine how in her neo-Victorian and neo-gothic novel Affinity (1999) Sarah Waters uses typical gothic devices in order to disrupt the binary gender norm prescribed by the heteronormativity, but also how she subverts the gothic plot itself to show the instability of the heterosexual matrix.

The term “heterosexual matrix” was coined by Judith Butler in Gender Trouble (1990), where she defined it as a set of norms which...

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