Naturalist Gothic, edited collection(June 15, 2013)

full name / name of organization: 
Monika Elbert

Haunting realities:
the Naturalist Gothic in American Literature

By looking at the ghostly machinations of capitalism's "Invisible Hand," we seek in this edited collection to examine literary confrontations with the horrors produced by social class fluctuations and a growing consumer culture. Essays might focus on the Gothic plot's phobic responses to capitalistic ventures and materialist ambitions as well as the excess and scarcity that typify Naturalism. As Charles Crow has recently noted, "Gothicism and naturalism are both devoted to shaking bourgeois complacency, revealing unsettling truths that society tries to conceal from itself" confronting us with "a universe of vast forces that can overwhelm and terrify the individual" (American Gothic, U of Wales P, 2009). Our book seeks to look at the underside of late nineteenth-century Realism, by viewing the Naturalistic school as a Gothic mode emerging out of the vacuous sentimentality or excessive feeling of the Romantic Gothic.

Topics and authors might include, but aren't limited, to the following key terms:
The horrors of urban life (Davis, Phelps, Gilman)
Civil War Gothic (Bierce, Crane)
Edith Wharton's sense of a ghostly presence in Old New York (or in Old New England)
Gothic Narratives of Race or Passing (Chesnutt, Frances Harper, Pauline Hopkins, James Weldon Johnson)
Gothic greed (Norris, McTeague)
Race as monstrosity (e.g., Crane's The Monster)
Horrors of the monied classes (James, Wharton, Howells)
Sexuality on display, for sale/barter, as commercial commodity (Spofford, Gilman, Chopin, Wharton)
Bad genes, degeneration, fears of venereal disease (Gilman, Phelps, Wharton, Norris)
Creole Gothic (Chopin, George Washington Cable)
Drugs, alcohol as panacea (Alcott's Gothic thrillers, Norris, Bierce)
Economic downfall, deterioration of natural landscapes (Freeman, Jewett, Wharton)
Images of prison, enclosures, claustrophobia (Gilman, Spofford)
The animal within (Davis, Spofford, Jack London, Crane, Bierce, Wharton)
New Woman nightmares (Alcott, Phelps, Gilman, Harper)
Homelessness, Haunted hotels, strange mobility, stasis, inertia
Medicine gone wrong, bad doctors, disability, disease (Spofford, Gilman, Phelps)
Mechanization, violence (Sinclair)
Spiritualism (Howells, Phelps)
Gothic food fasts and feasts (starvation, gluttony) (Freeman, Gilman, Wharton)
The "Iddy" bitty self (sexual depravation vs. sexual deprivation)
False displays of happiness—the darker side of Twain; parodies of the Gothic (Twain)
Carpe diem, carpe mortem

Send two-page proposals and one-paragraph bios to Monika Elbert, English Dept., Montclair State University, and Wendy Ryden, English Dept., LIU Post, by June 15, 2013. Queries are welcome.