Chapter on Molly Keane (M.J. Farrell) and the Gothic for edited collection "Middlebrow Gothic: Dark Domesticity in British Popular Fiction, 1920-1960"

deadline for submissions: 
October 10, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Christopher Yiannitsaros

A chapter which explores the fiction of middlebrow author Molly Keane (alias: M.J. Farrell) in realtion to the Gothic is sought to round off the edited collection Middlebrow Gothic: Dark Domesticity in British Popular Fiction, 1920-1960.


The original CfP is as follows:


"Commenting on Ivy Compton-Burnett’s subtly brutal A House and Its Head (1935), Francine Prose argues that the author’s portrayal of domestic life works to illuminate ‘the fear of being humiliated, bullied, silenced, and ignored, the fear of eternal incarceration in the prison of the family’. Bearing this sense of domestic peril and claustrophobia in mind, it can be argued that portrayals of home and family provide one of the foremost intersections between the twentieth century middlebrow novel and the older literary tradition of the Gothic.

Nicola Humble has convincingly demonstrated in her influential The Feminine Middlebrow Novel, 1920s to 1950s (2001) that discourses of ‘home’ were subject to considerable public discussion following the disturbances to ordinary family life caused by the two World Wars. Yet, despite the valorisation of domesticity in commercial and cultural spheres, many authors from within middlebrow literary culture responded by producing fictions which reveal the home to be anything but a sanctuary. Many middlebrow authors borrowed from the Gothic tradition to transfigure the middle-class family home into a disorderly site of buried secrets, maltreatment and paranoia. However, this dark re-imagining of the home has not yet been fully explored in either critical discussions of middlebrow literary culture or of twentieth century Gothic.

Since the early 2000s, literary Modernism has benefited from a wanted re-evaluation in term of its relationship with the Gothic, with articles, book chapters and edited collections that have challenged the received view that the textual conventions and affective responses of the Gothic are somehow incongruent with the bright and dazzling new world of twentieth century modernity. However, the same has not been true of Modernism’s ‘other’ – the middlebrow, produced chronologically alongside the works of canonical Modernism, but more conventional in narrative structure and with a more staunchly aspirational middle-class readership in mind. Rather than re-cooperate works by writers such as Agatha Christie, Ivy Compton-Burnett, Stella Gibbons, Dodie Smith and Diana Tutton into canons of ‘domestic-‘, ‘inter-‘ or ‘popular-’ Modernisms, this edited collection of essays aims to celebrate their status as middlebrow, investigating some of the inherent cross-currents between middlebrow literary culture and the Gothic: connections in terms of content, readership and their positioning within aesthetic hierarchies as foibles to more monolithic literary movements."



Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Murder, cruelty and the ‘family romance’ in Keane's fiction.
  • Keans Gothic geographies: dark representations of the countryside and/or the city.
  • Keane and the tradtions of Anglo-Irish Gothic and the ‘Big House’ novel.
  • Keane's represantation of Gothic mothers/Gothic fathers/Gothic children.
  • Keane's use of parodic/comic Gothic.
  • Keane's use of Gothic in realtion to sexuality.
  • Comparions of Keane's use of Gothic to her contemporaries.


Submit abstracts of up to 450 words, along with a brief biographical note to
Dr Christopher Yiannitsaros at by October 10th 2020.

Completed essays of 6000-8000 words will be due by Febuary 28th 2021.