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Thread: Help with Gothic literature homework?

  1. #1
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    Apr 2012

    Help with Gothic literature homework?

    I am studying Gothic lit. at the moment and have a piece of homework to write about how the true horror that Victorian gothic literature can imagine is female sexuality. I have written about the 'New Woman' movement of that era and how fear of that comes across in Dracula, and also I have written a little bit about the biblical allusions in 'Christabel' by Samual Taylor Coleridge, and how religion was used to stereotype sexual women as demonic. Also I have written about Angela Carter's 'The Bloody Chamber', written in the late 20th century, and how it is a reaction to the repression women still face today. I am really enjoying the topic but I have also been asked to write about Coleridges 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' in relation to female sexuality and I can't find anything myself. I just wondered if anyone had any ideas about that in particular or if not, about female sexuality in the gothic genre in general? Thank you.

  2. #2
    Registered User john7's Avatar
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    May 2011
    I am here to learn.Thanks for sharing.

  3. #3
    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    Dec 2005
    trapped in a prologue.
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    Look at the character of Deat in Rime. On a side note, Rime is not Victorian, not sure if it matters.

    In a general sense Gothic lit gave women or the idea of women both power and mystery and completely due stables the masculine, Enlightened mind.
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

  4. #4
    Dance Magic Dance OrphanPip's Avatar
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    Nancy Armstrong's book How Novels Think (the subtitle was like individuality in the novel or some such, I can't remember) has a chapter on Victorian horror/gothic literature, in particular Dracula, and how women fit into the genre. If your library has a copy of the book it would be a useful resource.

    I wouldn't say the "horror" of gothic fiction is female sexuality. However, a lot of Victorian anxieties are expressed through their relation to female sexuality. Like take Dracula as an embodiment of concerns about the foreign, and of disease, female sexuality becomes an important locus for exploring this anxiety because of the role women play within the structure of the family and within the mythos of domesticity: the fear of foreign men, and of disease, penetrating the social body through the vulnerable English woman threatens the basic structure of the English family. Think about the contemporary arguments about the sanctity of marriage and the disintegration of the family. People still think the nuclear family is a central institution of Western Society, female sexuality out of control (or under threat from foreign interference) is then a threat to society. Not because men are afraid of female sexuality, but because of the important myths and cultural symbols of femininity. (It's not all about oppressing women).

    You might also want to focus on only one Gothic text, or maybe two in comparison, instead of jumping around so much.
    "If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia."
    - Margaret Atwood

  5. #5
    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    Mar 2011
    If you're doing Dracula, you may want to check out J.S. LeFanu's novella Carmilla, which was published 25 years earlier and has been extremely influential on the genre. Then read the rest of LeFanu's ghost stories while you're at it (when you have time), because they're great.
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

  6. #6
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Feb 2007
    What a mediocre reading of the Rime. It is artistic anxiety that the poem is about, and the power of words and actions to cause an unending violence. They could have at least chosen Christabel (or even Dejection) if they wanted to do a feminist mucking of the thing. Those at least are concerned with female sexuality.

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