Issue 2: Fear & Terror

Spring 2006

Contents

Guest Article

Desperado Literature: A Rewriting of Fear as Terror, as Illustrated by Ian McEwan's Saturday (2005) 
Lidia Vianu, poet, novelist, literary critic and Professor of English Literature at Bucharest University

Articles

"Bonnie und Kleid": Female Terrorists and the Hysterical Feminine 
Clare Bielby, University of Edinburgh

Notes on the Terror Film 
Keith Brown, University of Edinburgh

The Grotesque Sublime: Play with Terror 
Shun-liang Chao, University College London

The Marquis de Sade's The 120 Days of Sodom: Revelling in the Natural Law of Libertinage 
Amanda Di Ponio, University of St Andrews

Terrorism and Its Metaphors 
Mark Fabiano, Wright State University

Re-reading Adorno: The 'after-Auschwitz' Aporia 
Elaine Martin, National University of Ireland Maynooth

Sensationalism and Supersensibility: Eighteenth-Century Literary Terror Divided 
Christopher Stokes, University of Sussex

Reviews

Terry Eagleton, Holy Terror 
Claire Altree, University of Edinburgh

 


 

Guest Article

Desperado Literature: A Rewriting of Fear as Terror, as Illustrated by Ian McEwan's Saturday (2005) 
Lidia Vianu, poet, novelist, literary critic and Professor of English Literature at Bucharest University

Desperado literature begins with the discovery that the internal personal fear of the modernist tradition can be organized and institutionalized by the community into terror. Ian McEwan instills all the obsessive fears of this hardly begun third millennium into the stream of consciousness technique. His novel is at once a work which breaks away from the Desperado tradition by offering a trust in love and family ties, while at the same time adhering to the Desperado theme of violence and terror.

 

 

Articles

"Bonnie und Kleid": Female Terrorists and the Hysterical Feminine 
Clare Bielby, University of Edinburgh

This paper considers representations of female terrorists in German media of the 1970s, particularly the diffusion of the threat posed by the violent woman through invocations of the hysterical feminine. The female terrorist is hugely subversive, especially as, according to Yuval-Davis, woman functions as cultural and literal reproducer and representation of the nation. In the Federal Republic of Germany, with its Nazi legacy and troubled identity, the violent woman becomes a figure of mythical proportions, constituting a great threat to the body politic of the nation. After drawing on Freud's and Riviere's psychoanalytical theories about femininity, hysteria and masquerade, I mobilise contemporary, gender-focused critiques of hysteria as a nineteenth-century pseudo-science, including those of Showalter and Gilman. I trace parallels between the "knowing" and controlling gaze of the nineteenth-century physician and the containing gaze of 1970s patriarchal German media, drawing on both liberal, "quality" media, as well as reactionary publications.

 

 

Notes on the Terror Film 
Keith Brown, University of Edinburgh

Drawing on the work of Todorov, Carroll and Gunning in particular, this paper first argues for the existence of the terror film as a separate and distinct genre that can be distinguished from horror through its emphasis upon naturally occurring sources of fear and which, accordingly, is perhaps better placed to confront and challenge its audiences with the frightening realities of life in the 20th Century. It then goes on to sketch a history of the terror film in European and American cinemas from 1895 to the present, identifying some key films, filmmakers and cycles, including The Cabinet of Dr Caligariand Shadow of a Doubt, Alfred Hitchcock and Fritz Lang, and the Italian giallo and the German krimi.

 

 

The Grotesque Sublime: Play with Terror 
Shun-liang Chao, University College London

This essay seeks to argue that the grotesque and the sublime are two sides of one coin in the light of the irrational nature of the work and the psychic effect of the audience. As a deformed/formless entirety and an unfinished metamorphosis, the grotesque image arouses in the minds of the audience the emotion of pleasant pain or delightful terror, the most salient thread running through the fabric of the major discourses on the sublime.

 

 

The Marquis de Sade's The 120 Days of Sodom: Revelling in the Natural Law of Libertinage 
Amanda Di Ponio, University of St Andrews

Pursuing pleasure by means of terrorizing others is at work in The Marquis de Sade’s The 120 Days of Sodom. In The Château of Silling, four sovereign friends indulge in their sexual appetites for four months whilst in isolation with their victims who only acquiesce to the sordid community because they fear the ultimate punishment of disloyalty: death. The friends assert their actions are justified by the laws of Nature herself. De Sade’s presentation of the horrific environment in The 120 Days of Sodom appeals to our desire to revel in our natural propensity for deviation.

 

 

Terrorism and Its Metaphors 
Mark Fabiano, Wright State University

The roots of terrorism transcend the modern age, and yet it appears that terrorism has become a signifier of an apocalyptic post-modern condition that "cultural" conservatives use to declare war on dissenters. Central to this investigation is an analysis of how the hegemonic order appropriates the media and uses metaphors to manufacture consent for supporting a vaguely defined "war on terror" indefinitely. This "war on terror" fosters useful but hopeless fantasies about ridding the world once and for all from terrorists. By interpreting these media "dreams" about terrorism, readers might awaken to a more sobering view of terrorism.

 

 

Re-reading Adorno: The 'after-Auschwitz' Aporia 
Elaine Martin, National University of Ireland Maynooth

The Shoah presents a paradigmatic case of the limits of artistic representation of terror. Theodor W. Adorno's extensive reflections of the status of art in the aftermath of the Shoah are crucial to any consideration of the representation of this event of unimaginable horror. This article endeavours to re-read these reflections within the context of the original text and thereby restore his various pronouncements to their argumentative context. The principle aim is to examine what I term the 'after-Auschwitz' aporia so evident in practically every passage produced by Adorno in relation to the status of art after the Shoah. So frequently overlooked in so many critical contributions to the debate, I consider this of absolute centrality to Adorno's thought: this 'after-Auschwitz' aporia will be examined to demonstrate that Adorno never insisted upon silence in the aftermath of the event nor called for an end to art as is so often claimed. Rather he highlighted the irresolvable quandary in which the post-Shoah artist found himself; the moral obligation to bear witness and the impossibility of doing so adequately.

 

 

Sensationalism and Supersensibility: Eighteenth-Century Literary Terror Divided 
Christopher Stokes, University of Sussex

This paper traces a normative distinction made in the late eighteenth century between a 'high' form of tragic literary terror, and a 'low' form characteristic of the gothic. The reactions of S.T. Coleridge to Friedrich Schiller's The Robbers and Matthew Lewis's The Monk illustrate this polarity. However, the fact that by 1817 Coleridge has returned Schiller's play into the category of the gothic helps expose a problematic instability on the limit between these two types of terror.

 

 

Reviews

Terry Eagleton, Holy Terror 
Claire Altree, University of Edinburgh

 

 

Editors

Joe Hughes
Beth Schroeder