Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
My project considers the transformation of gothic characters as they move among different types of publications in the nineteenth century. As they meander from triple-decker novels to chapbooks, to theatrical scripts, to periodicals, and to penny serials, gothic stories and portrayals of people in them are altered by the length and technological capability of each form. They also mutate to reflect the tastes and ideologies of their changing audiences, and to hybridize genres under the popular influence of realism toward the mid-century. The mainstays of the gothic mode remain stable; these publications adhere to ambiguous or pluralistic ideologies, are obsessed with transgressions, liminalities, and entrapment, and are deeply concerned with economic and physical security. What’s different in the cheaper forms of nineteenth century fiction is the nearness of the material; the resemblance it bears to readers’ lived realities alters the way characters speak, think, look, and act. Each chapter of my project compares a selection of canonical works of gothic fiction (authors like Ann Radcliffe, Matthew Lewis, Charlotte Dacre, and Horace Walpole) with their cheaper counterparts, and focuses on the way remediation affects content. The first chapter is centered on ghosts; their stories were modulated to move the gothic away from the hyperbolic masculinity run amok in a triple-decker like The Monk toward a more realistic presence capable of some resistance to patriarchy in periodical fiction. In the second chapter I examine the vampire, whose path was different; the vampire moved from folklore across translations and into poetry before arriving in prose via chapbook and then penny serials. During this journey, the vampire developed the capacity to serve as a metaphor with increasing flexibility. The last chapter addresses gendered human characters: heroes, heroines, villains, and crones; all of whom became more human, more relatable, and more capable of transgression in the process of remediation. By transforming so successfully, the gothic thrived in the changing literary marketplace that led to the gothic revival of the fin de siècle.