As I consider book reviews to be a great writing exercise between projects, I try to do them every three months or so. They’re especially useful after the Christmas break when I’ve finished my lecture prep for the coming term and am easing myself back into a proper writing schedule. Here’s a little summary of my latest one as well as a link to the full review.
I’ve spent the last few days reading Gina Wisker’s latest publication, Contemporary Women’s Gothic Fiction (Palgrave Macmillan 2016) for The Gothic Imagination. While the general topic of the book is contemporary women’s writing, Wisker divides her discussion into specific categories such as Canadian Gothic, African American Gothic, Domestic Gothic, and Postcolonial Gothic. She focuses on the fiction of Angela Carter, Margaret Atwood, and Toni Morrison as well as many other female authors, and (as always!), her analysis and attention to detail in the chosen narratives is meticulous, compelling, and a pleasure to read.
The full review can be read here.
Cover art image: Copyright of Palgrave Macmillan.
My latest article has been published in the new issue of Studies in Gothic Fiction (Cardiff University Press). It examines female identity in one of my favourite novels by Angela Carter, The Magic Toyshop (1967). I fell in love with this book when I researched it for my thesis back in 2014 and I haven’t been able to get enough of Carter’s work since then. Once deemed the ‘white Witch of English literature’, her stories are famously radical and full of dark humour with an ability to both grip and unsettle their reader in equal measure.
The premise of my study was to consider the relationship between female identity and performativity in relation to how it is portrayed in Carter’s novel. Building upon recent Gothic criticism by Andrew Hock Soon Ng, which defines the house as a theatre box that reduces its occupants to actors who must execute the correct performativity for their gender at all times, it uses a doll motif to examine this effect on the Gothic heroine.
There are three parts to this investigation: The complex formation of female identity and the various components that influence this process; The female subject’s struggle for control of her identity and autonomy against a villainous patriarch (which is a common theme in many classic and contemporary Gothic narratives); The woman-doll dyad’s ability to epitomise the many components of female identity and performativity as well as the Gothic heroine’s experience of repression and conflict.
The full article can be read here.
The Magic Toyshop cover art image: Copyright of Virago Press.
I write book reviews for the University of Stirling’s The Gothic Imagination website from time to time. They’re a nice little writing exercise to have between bigger projects like articles and chapters, which can take up to a couple of months to complete. And because the lovely folks over at TGI allow me to choose the books, they’re also a great way of keeping up to date with the latest publications in my research area.
While I’m not going to say much about the book here, I would like to just mention that I really enjoyed it, both in terms of its analysis of Gothic texts and its exploration of well-known and not-so-well-known women’s writing. It’s an especially important work for researchers of the Female Gothic as it challenges and expands upon the narrow definition of this sub-genre.
My latest review is on Women’s Ghost Literature in Nineteenth-century Britain by Melissa Edmundson Makala (University of Wales Press), and you can read it here.
Cover art image: Copyright of the University of Wales Press.