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Title:Unlearned monsters: An archaeology of the Gothic romance
Author(s):Jacobs, Edward Haynie
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Garrett, Peter K.
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, English
Abstract:Lexical politics during the Roman Empire and German Reformation, errors in translating Bede into Anglo-Saxon, and stylistic compatibilities between gothic racial myth and "customary" politics mythologized the barbarians who "invaded" Kent in 449 as native Goths whose return to their homeland redeemed its "immemorial" customs of political liberty and spiritual purity.
British Gothicism became politically powerful during the Civil War because its celebrations of ancestral customs articulated with the politics of "local communities" that have been argued as the social cause of the British Civil War. Because Gothicism celebrated "custom" as an ongoing, divinely-wrought mixture of the various racial "constitutions" in England, it flourished during the unstable revolutionary culture. By "restituting" the historical record against alleged monarchical lies and popular amnesias, Gothicism deconstructed historiographical induction, provoking the rise of deductive historiography such as Locke's.
The historiographical war between Bolingbroke's The Craftsman and Robert Walpole's magazines stigmatized Gothicist historiography as "romantic." Bolingbroke's "neo-Gothicism" exerted less power than had seventeenth century Gothicism, because neo-Gothicism's ethical call for people to donate power to "custom" competed problematically with "public service discourses" such as trade news-sheets that by the 1720's were pervasively offering to serve people power.
The "ethic" behind Horace Walpole's life-long insistence that his writings were "trivial" explains the "semiotics of waste" practiced by Walpole's writings. Walpole designed his "gothic" castle at Strawberry Hill as a schematic sub-culture for stimulating play and the production of "trivia." The first edition of The Castle of Otranto was a satire on readers who comply with the advice offered by its preface, and it epitomizes Walpole's "semiotics of waste," wherein sub-cultural values are inscribed in the "waste" of texts.
During the 1790's in England, circulating library sub-culture and gothic romance texts co-operated to reward their patrons for reading texts differently than textually "implied readers" read texts. In scenes involving main characters and "circumstantial" peasant narrators, these romances glorify the power afforded by communicating and perceiving in "unlearned" ways also practiced by circulating library culture itself. Gothic romances' celebration of vernacular difference prepared for the popularity of "penny dreadfuls" among 1840's oral street culture.
Issue Date:1990
Rights Information:Copyright 1990 Jacobs, Edward Haynie
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9114281
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9114281

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