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Central Library PR888.T3 P35 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

Tracing the growth of lesbian Gothic fiction over the 25 years since the advent of the Women's Movement and Gay Liberation in the 1970s, this text discusses a wide selection of novels and stories, contextualizing and re-evaluating them in the light of changing currents in lesbian/queer culture and politics. The figure of the lesbian, frequently portrayed in a homophobic/misogynistic light, has long been a standard component of popular Gothic fiction and film. The author argues, however, that in more contemporary fiction, motifs and modes of fiction with Gothic associations, such as the witch, the vampire, the spectral visitor and the Gothic thriller, have been appropriated by writers adopting a lesbian viewpoint to articulate the transgressive aspect of lesbian sexuality and existence.


Summary

Tracing the growth of lesbian Gothic fiction over the 25 years since the advent of the Women's Movement and Gay Liberation in the 1970s, this text discusses a wide selection of novels and stories, contextualizing and re-evaluating them in the light of changing currents in lesbian/queer culture and politics. The figure of the lesbian, frequently portrayed in a homophobic/misogynistic light, has long been a standard component of popular Gothic fiction and film. The author argues, however, that in more contemporary fiction, motifs and modes of fiction with Gothic associations, such as the witch, the vampire, the spectral visitor and the Gothic thriller, have been appropriated by writers adopting a lesbian viewpoint to articulate the transgressive aspect of lesbian sexuality and existence.


Author Notes

Paulina Palmer works in the English Department at the University of Warwick, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in women's fiction and feminist theory. She also contributes seminars to the MA in Interdisciplinary Studies. Her publications include Contemporary Women's Fiction: Narrative Practice and Feminist Theory (1989) and Contemporary Lesbian Writing: Dreams, Desire, Difference (1993).


Paulina Palmer works in the English Department at the University of Warwick, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in women's fiction and feminist theory. She also contributes seminars to the MA in Interdisciplinary Studies. Her publications include Contemporary Women's Fiction: Narrative Practice and Feminist Theory (1989) and Contemporary Lesbian Writing: Dreams, Desire, Difference (1993).


Reviews 2

Choice Review

Although lesbian critical studies are relatively new, the use of Gothic motifs as a vehicle to represent lesbians is not, as Palmer (Univ. of Warwick, UK) points out in this groundbreaking, exhaustive survey of the rich variety of lesbian Gothic. Since the Gothic genre with its women protagonists was first developed by women, it is particularly well suited to lesbian recasting. Evaluating works in light of the poststructural theoretical discourse of Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, Judith Butler, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, the author discusses how Baudelaire and Swinburne typecast lesbians as decadent vampires and Joseph Sheridan LeFanu treated his lesbian vampire in Carmilla (1872) with uncustomary sensitivity and sympathy. In Nightwood (1936), Djuna Barnes introduces images of supernatural possession and animal transformation as a metaphor for the lesbian's abject position in society. Palmer discusses how writers of lesbian Gothic attribute a revitalizing subjectivity to the witch, the vampire, and the spectral visitor. By endowing their protagonists with strength and detachment, such authors as Emma Donoghue (Hood, 1995) and Sarah Schulman (After Delores, 1988) assure that they survive to tell their tale; Barbara Hanrahan (The Albatross Muff , 1978) problematizes motherhood and birth by associating them with death and danger, offering lesbianism as a means of liberation. Recommended for all academic libraries. J. Shreve; Allegany College of Maryland


Choice Review

Although lesbian critical studies are relatively new, the use of Gothic motifs as a vehicle to represent lesbians is not, as Palmer (Univ. of Warwick, UK) points out in this groundbreaking, exhaustive survey of the rich variety of lesbian Gothic. Since the Gothic genre with its women protagonists was first developed by women, it is particularly well suited to lesbian recasting. Evaluating works in light of the poststructural theoretical discourse of Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, Judith Butler, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, the author discusses how Baudelaire and Swinburne typecast lesbians as decadent vampires and Joseph Sheridan LeFanu treated his lesbian vampire in Carmilla (1872) with uncustomary sensitivity and sympathy. In Nightwood (1936), Djuna Barnes introduces images of supernatural possession and animal transformation as a metaphor for the lesbian's abject position in society. Palmer discusses how writers of lesbian Gothic attribute a revitalizing subjectivity to the witch, the vampire, and the spectral visitor. By endowing their protagonists with strength and detachment, such authors as Emma Donoghue (Hood, 1995) and Sarah Schulman (After Delores, 1988) assure that they survive to tell their tale; Barbara Hanrahan (The Albatross Muff , 1978) problematizes motherhood and birth by associating them with death and danger, offering lesbianism as a means of liberation. Recommended for all academic libraries. J. Shreve; Allegany College of Maryland


Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
1 Introduction: Gothic and lesbian narrativep. 1
2 The witch and rebellious femininityp. 29
3 Spectral visitation: the return of the repressedp. 59
4 The vampire: transgressive sexualityp. 99
5 The Gothic thrillerp. 128
Bibliography
Novels and storiesp. 154
Theoretical and critical worksp. 157
Indexp. 163
Prefacep. vii
1 Introduction: Gothic and lesbian narrativep. 1
2 The witch and rebellious femininityp. 29
3 Spectral visitation: the return of the repressedp. 59
4 The vampire: transgressive sexualityp. 99
5 The Gothic thrillerp. 128
Bibliography
Novels and storiesp. 154
Theoretical and critical worksp. 157
Indexp. 163

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