Gothic Studies Special Issue: Gothic Age and Aging
Guest edited by James Aaron Green (University of Vienna) and João Paulo Guimarães (University of Porto)
From the fantastical youth of Wilde’s Dorian to the age defiance of Maturin’s Melmoth; from the extreme old age of Haggard’s Gagool to the uncanny paternalism of Stoker’s Count;—much of the gothic mode’s most recognizable iconography is defined wholly or in part by its age identity or relation to the process of aging. Moreover, old age and aging themselves have perennially been rendered in a gothic register, often in ways that uphold ageist tropes. Meanwhile, Marlene Goldman (2017) has observed how ‘the spectre of aging and, dementia, in particular, have acquired a gothic dimension’ in a present day anxious about the co-morbidities of old age amid a global aging population.
Despite this, scholarship on gothic age and aging has been fitful, and some of the broader questions it prompts remain underanalyzed: Why is so much of the mode’s iconography age-defined? Why are so many aspects of age and aging rendered via a gothic register and the tropes it supplies? This special issue of Gothic Studies aims to catalyze interest in this overlap and to begin addressing these questions. It aspires to deepen our understanding of age and aging as aspects of the gothic’s socio-political agenda throughout its long and varied history, and to contextualize contemporary understandings of age and aging via this longue durée perspective—their continuities with and departures from this gothic lineage.
The issue intends for essays that see age and aging as integral rather than incidental to the form and function of the gothic, and which reflect the mode’s chronological, geographical, and medial breadth (in plays, short stories, films, etc.).
Possible topics might include, though are by no means limited to:
- Gothic archetypes defined by age or aging (‘the crone’ or ‘anti-crones’ of du Maurier and Wharton, ‘the haunted youth’);
- Gothic characters defined by age or aging;
- Gothic plots or tropes of age or aging (the ‘elixir of life’, rejuvenescence, fantastical longevity);
- Aging as uncanny or gothic (estrangement from the self, Lacanian méconnaissance);
- The abject of age and aging (the potential infirmities of extreme old age, accelerated or ‘visible’ aging as abject);
- Gothic metaphors or allegories of age or aging (e.g., dementia in Chariandy’s Soucouyant );
- Gendered dimensions of gothic age and aging (menopause as gothic, the aged female body under the male gaze);
- The gothic and age cohorts (‘apocalyptic demography’ [Katz 2014], anxieties around a global aging population);
Please submit proposals of c.500 words and brief biographies (fewer than 100 words) for consideration to James Aaron Green (University of Vienna) email@example.com and João Paulo Guimarães (University of Porto)firstname.lastname@example.org by 30 September 2022 (include ‘Gothic Studies’ in the header). Completed articles are expected to be between 5,000-7,000 words and will be due 31 August 2023.