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Republicanism and the American Gothic

Republicanism and the American Gothic

Marilyn Michaud
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
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  • Book Info
    Republicanism and the American Gothic
    Book Description:

    This book is a comparative study of British and American literature and culture in the 1790s and 1950s. It explores the republican tradition of the British Enlightenment and the effect of its translation and migration to the American colonies.

    eISBN: 978-0-7083-2233-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Introduction (pp. 1-29)

    The initial task of scholarship devoted to the Gothic is often an attempt at definition: what is Gothic? Typically, the discussion will begin with an exploration of the relationship between the nascent British form and its various progenitors followed by the inevitable conclusion that the term is ‘fluid’,‘ troublesome’ and ‘mutable’. The solution, Fred Botting suggests, is more criticism: ‘Elusive, phantomlike, if not phantasmatic, floating across generic and historical boundaries, Gothic (re) appearances demand and disappoint, and demand again, further critical scrutiny to account for their continued mutation.’² In an effort to illuminate the genre, analysis has splintered into a...

  4. 1 Republican Historiography (pp. 30-51)

    In 1985, theAmerican Quarterlydevoted an entire issue to the topic of republicanism and in the following year, theWilliam and Mary Quarterlyindexed the term for the first time in its ninety-four year history. The addition of the category ‘republicanism’ in these two eminent journals of history and culture reflects the intense interest and often-acrimonious debate orbiting the term since the 1960s. As one critic observed, republicanismwas the one concept that could unlock the riddles of American politics and culture.¹ It represented an agreeable substitution for the increasingly pejorative term ‘national’ and a new found interest in language...

  5. 2 Vampires and the Cyclical Theory of History (pp. 52-79)

    In Stephen King’s vampire novelSalem’s Lot(1975), Ben Mears contemplates the history of his hometown; reviewing the names on the local war memorial he decides ‘This town has the wrong name. It ought to be Time’ (p. 170).² Before the vampire infestation, time in Jerusalem’s Lot was seen to operate on a different schedule: a predictable timetable in which everything stayed the same and nothing nasty ever happened. While the names of the dead stretched from the revolutionary war to Vietnam, the Lot’s knowledge of the country’s history and torment remained ‘academic’ (p. 42). But as Ben discovers to...

  6. 3 The Double and Republican Masculinity (pp. 80-106)

    In 1796, the popular German author Jean Paul coined the term doppelgänger in his romantic narrative of self-creation and self-destruction. To gain freedom from his unhappy marriage, the eponymous hero Siebenkäs fakes his own death and assumes the identity of Leibgeber, a cosmopolitan libertine whose indulgences lead nearly to destruction. In Paul’s subsequent novel,Titan(1803), an uncanny reversal occurs: Leibgeber encounters Siebenkäs and thinking he has seen himself, finally goes insane.¹ Since these first encounters with the doppelgänger or ‘double goer’, tales of duality and fractured identity have been a recurring motif in Gothic fiction. As Kelly Hurley has...

  7. 4 Conspiracy and Hypocrisy in Rosemary’s Baby (pp. 107-141)

    In his essay on communism, motherhood and cold war movies, Michael Rogin identifies three major moments in the history of demonology in American politics. The firstmoment is racial: America’s economic and political development, along with its cultural identity, is rooted in the violent expropriation of Indian land and the exploitation of black labour. According to Rogin,‘a distinctive American political tradition, fearful of primitivism, disorder, and conspiracy developed in response to peoples of color’. This tradition, he claims, draws its power from the ‘alien threat to the American way of life, and sanctions violent and exclusionary responses’ to perceived otherness.² The...

  8. 5 Virtue and Corruption inTruman Capote’s In Cold Blood (pp. 142-173)

    Originally published in four instalments inThe NewYorker, Truman Capote’sIn Cold Bloodestablished a new genre of creative non-fiction which he called the ‘non-fiction novel’. Since its initial success, the form has spawned a host of practitioners, the most celebrated being Norman Mailer’sThe Executioner’s Song(1979), Gabriel Garcia Márquez’sChronicle of a Death Foretold(1981), and John Berendt’sMidnight in the Garden of Good and Evil(1994). While each tells the story of killers and their crimes,In Cold Bloodholds a unique position in American literary history. It was the first conscious attempt to blur journalism with...

  9. Afterword (pp. 174-176)

    InFear: A Cultural History, historian Joanna Bourke writes that in the wake of the terrorist attacks on NewYork and Washington, the world seems a more terrifying place: ‘Death and disaster; nightmares and phobias; new killing techniques and dangerous technologies; treacherous bodies–a seemingly endless range of terrifying trials and tribulations seem to face people in the twentieth century.’

    For Bourke, this fear manifests in modern surveillance systems, in persecution of immigrants and in the spectre of the terrorist. It is, she notes, a‘ fear of something that may befall us, rather than fearforothers’.² In a subsequent article,...

  10. Bibliography (pp. 177-190)
  11. Index (pp. 191-198)