The Themes, Gothic and Otherwise

This post is to help me organize some of the broad themes percolating around my Gothic project.

One of the early sparks was reading Gail Carriger’s Heroine’s Journey. I realized I’d never really read many books/stories, or watched many movies/shows that were marketed for women. Despite my white, male, cishet, middle-class liberal proclamations about how I’m interested in all things human, and the human experience, I seemed to have meticulously avoided much that wasn’t directly marketed to white, cishet, male, middle-class me. heh. *embarrassed blush*

It turns out my claim to Terence’s motto — “I am human, and I think nothing human is alien to me” — is, despite my naive good intentions, a load of horseshit. Most of human experience is alien to me, and often because of specific choices I have made, intentionally or not.

So, rolling around in the back of my brain was this idea that I wanted to find an entry into reading romance. Easy enough to do in practice but I wanted some kind of framework so that maybe I could write about it.

So, one theme is reading/watching works created for a female audience.

One example of this are movies of the 1940s. While men in Britain and the US were displaced because of the war, movie studios made some movies targeted to women. The Wikipedia entry for Woman’s Films discusses this.

“The woman’s film genre was particularly popular in 1930s and 1940s, reaching its zenith during World War II. The film industry of that time had an economic interest in producing such films as women were believed to comprise a majority of movie-goers. In line with this perception, many woman’s films were prestigious productions which attracted some of the best stars and directors.”

The second theme I expect to write about/mull over, is my body as an object. I clearly objectify my own body in ways I barely recognize and I’m sure in ways I don’t recognize at all. I also live in a world and in a time where the human body is often considered a collection of objects. My recent experience living with an external bladder attached to my internal kidney highlighted this. (I was a wetware cyborg!)

The third is to think more about the tropes surrounding Gothic literature: hauntings, the supernatural, ruins, etc. And to learn more about the cultural trappings surrounding peaks of Gothic production.

So the three threads I want to braid together in this project are:

  • reading works created for women and to-this-point ignored by me;
  • meditating and writing about my conceptions of my body and bodies in general;
  • the tropes of Gothic literature and cinema, a set of lenses I can use to study whatever I’m thinking of at the moment.

Initially this all added up to exploring Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, especially the creature and its manifestations since its inception. But as the project ferments I see I’ll want to broaden it somewhat. Shelley’s work will still play an important role but perhaps not quite so central as I once thought.

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