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Romanticism and the Cult of Celebrity

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0022483/00001

Material Information

Title: Romanticism and the Cult of Celebrity Afterlives in Postmodern Film and Fiction
Physical Description: 1 online resource (190 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Whitson, Roger
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2008

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: afterlives, celebrity, postmodernism, romanticism
English -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: English thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: Recent research in celebrity studies demonstrates the importance of fame for a newly literate middle class confronting large-scale publication during the Romantic period. The postmodern English department, as part of its critique of these core values, feels impelled to confront the Romantic category of the author while attempting to find a new institutional identity in a post-nationalist world. I argue that the appearance of the ghostly apparition of the Romantic celebrity in postmodern film and fiction reflects anxieties and fantasies over the decline of literary studies. My project uses what I call a double history of celebrity to analyze the afterlife of the Romantic author in postmodern film and fiction. Romantic figures have appeared in varied places in postmodern popular and academic culture, often depicted as dying or already dead. Each text reflects, reacts or mocks the anxieties over the marginalization of literature. I analyze the postmodern afterlife of the literary celebrity as a method of investigating the marginalization of literary studies. The following chapters examine episodes in the afterlife of the Romantic celebrity in their confrontation with academic culture.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Roger Whitson.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Local: Adviser: Burt, Richard A.
Local: Co-adviser: Ault, Donald D.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2008
System ID: UFE0022483:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0022483/00001

Material Information

Title: Romanticism and the Cult of Celebrity Afterlives in Postmodern Film and Fiction
Physical Description: 1 online resource (190 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Whitson, Roger
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2008

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: afterlives, celebrity, postmodernism, romanticism
English -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: English thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: Recent research in celebrity studies demonstrates the importance of fame for a newly literate middle class confronting large-scale publication during the Romantic period. The postmodern English department, as part of its critique of these core values, feels impelled to confront the Romantic category of the author while attempting to find a new institutional identity in a post-nationalist world. I argue that the appearance of the ghostly apparition of the Romantic celebrity in postmodern film and fiction reflects anxieties and fantasies over the decline of literary studies. My project uses what I call a double history of celebrity to analyze the afterlife of the Romantic author in postmodern film and fiction. Romantic figures have appeared in varied places in postmodern popular and academic culture, often depicted as dying or already dead. Each text reflects, reacts or mocks the anxieties over the marginalization of literature. I analyze the postmodern afterlife of the literary celebrity as a method of investigating the marginalization of literary studies. The following chapters examine episodes in the afterlife of the Romantic celebrity in their confrontation with academic culture.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Roger Whitson.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Local: Adviser: Burt, Richard A.
Local: Co-adviser: Ault, Donald D.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2008
System ID: UFE0022483:00001


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ROMANTICISM AND THE CULT OF CELEBRITY: AFTERLIVES IN POSTMODERN
FILM AND FICTION




















By

ROGER T. WHITSON


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2008



































2008 Roger T. Whitson









ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I completed this dissertation with the substantial contribution of many outstanding people.

Richard Burt, my committee chair, was an ideal example of academic generosity. When I needed

help after a series of personal and medical crises, he provided understanding and encouragement.

Richard also profoundly transformed my understanding of the relationship between literature,

politics, and film. I can only hope that if literary studies is truly mined, its post-apocalyptic

fallout won't prevent me from impacting my students in the way Richard has inspired me. My

cochair, Donald Ault, was the primary reason I came to the University of Florida. His work on

William Blake and his courage to promote the academic study of comic books made my

scholarly career possible. He has also infected me, perhaps fatally, with a love of logorrhea that

will always be a hallmark of my teaching and scholarship. John Leavey provided both theoretical

rigor and critique and, as a consequence, made me a better scholar and thinker. Robert Hatch

contributed a nuanced approach to historicism and an interest in the fictional appropriation of

historical figures that proved essential to the project. Terry Harpold, Kenneth Kidd, Ron Broglio,

and Judith Paige all provided insightful suggestions for this project.

I would also like to thank the members of the NASSR-L listserv who introduced me to

many of the critical debates that became fundamental to my dissertation and my approach to

Romanticism in general. I am particularly indebted to Susan Wolfson, Jerome McGann, Emily

Bernard Jackson, Travis Brown, Nancy Mayer, and Charles Robinson. Finally, I would like to

thank all of those mentors who taught me to value philosophical and literary inquiry, and whose

friendship I continue to cherish: Thomas Austenfeld, Charles Ess, Lisa Esposito, Peter

Meidlinger, Randall Fuller, Ted Vaggalis, Thomas Moison, Vincent Casaregola, Toby Benis,

Jeffrey Clymer, and Devin Johnston.









My friends and colleagues nourished my development as a critical thinker and impacted

the development of my dissertation. I will mention a few of these cherished individuals from the

past and the present: Jason Mical, Elizabeth Griffin-Mical, Kristen Cox, Tomoyuki Yamane,

Karissa Kary, Robert Early, Steve Joos, Michelle Creed, Angela Teater, Katherine Casey-

Sawicki, Aaron Shaheen, Cat Tosenberger, Brendan Riley, Todd Reynolds, Nicole LaRose, Lisa

Hager, Andrea Wood, Melissa Mellon, Ariel Gunn, Jorelle Laakso Bobbitt, James Fleming,

Zachery West, Emily Brock, HavreDe Hill, George Bronos, Tori Lundock, and Debray Leon.

Leeann Hunter came into my life at a time when I was lost and reminded me how important and

how rewarding life can be. She provided not only intellectual and editorial guidance, but love

and affection.

I am also fortunate to have a family who understands the importance of higher education

and continues to support my dreams. My mother Cathy and my father Todd have, in different but

complementary ways, raised me to follow my curiosities with honesty and without fear. My

brother David and his wife Elaina keep me humble and humorous. Charrie Dixon has taught me

to fight against inequity. Kate Whitson has gently challenged many of my assumptions about the

world. My grandmother Ruth Hodgson, who taught High School Greek mythology, told me

stories about Hercules that thrilled me when I was young and made me interested in studying

literature. However, it is those who are not still with us, the dead, who have contributed the most

to my intellectual being. Roger Hodgson and Mary Whitson died before I turned 18, but their

commitment to art and their generosity of spirit guide me even today. David Leach Whitson died

in 2006. I remember debating philosophy and literature at his house in St. Louis as a child, years

before receiving any formal education in either field. I dedicate my dissertation to the memory of









these dead, and to all of those specters who remain unacknowledged or unacknowledgeable, but

who nevertheless give me phantom shoulders to stand upon.









TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

A CK N O W LED G M EN TS ................................................................. ........... ............. 3

LIST OF FIGURES .................................. .. .. .... ..... ..................7

ABSTRAC T ............................................ ..............................................

CHAPTER

1 INTRODUCTION: THE DEATH OF ROMANTIC CELEBRITY AND THE END OF
L ITE R A R Y STU D IE S ...................................................... ...................................... 9

2 OCCULT BLAKEANA: THE DEATH OF LITERATURE, THE MANAGEMENT OF
RUIN, AND ALAN MOORE AND EDDIE CAMPBELL' S FROMHELL .......................28

The M any Deaths of W illiam Blake........ ........ .. ................. ... ...................... 31
Serial B lake......... ............................................................... 46
Spectacular Death ......... ..... ..... ............................ .............. ............ 66

3 BYRON'S CORPSE: ACADEMIC NECROPHILIA AND J. M. COETZEE'S
D IS G R A C E ................................. ........................................................................6 9

Intim ate R relations w ith Byron's Corpse........................................... .......................... 71
Byron and the Death of the Postmodern Academic.... ...................................81
George Gordon Byron, Postmodern Ph.D. ....................................................................... 93

4 THE STILLBORN PAST: ACADEMIC REALISM, THE HAUNTED SUMMER OF
1816 AND KEN RUS SELL' S GOTHIC......................... ......... ................. ...............97

Death, Realism, and the Academic Politics of Biography.............................. ... ................ 99
Ken Russell and the Ghosts of Celebrity ............. ..... ....................................... 114
The Struggle for A cadem ic R ealism ............................................. ............................ 136

5 INCORPORATING THE ROMANTIC CELEBRITY: LITERARY ENCRYPTION,
MARY'S MELANCHOLY, AND SHELLEY JACKSON'S PATCHWORK GIRL...........141

Mary Shelley in the Age of Cryptic Reproduction............... ...................... 144
N ew M editions of the C rypt ........................................................ ....... ..........................157
O u td ate d S h elley ............................................................................................................. 17 2

6 AFTERW ORD .................................... .. .... ... ... .................. 176

L IST O F R E F E R E N C E S ............................................................................. ..........................179

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E T C H ......................................................................... ... ..................... 190









LIST OF FIGURES

Figure page

2-1 The dead bird (Pro: 1). From Hell Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell............................ 50

2-2 Dead Again (Ep: 10). From Hell Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell..............................52

2-3 Cutting into the Sublime. (10:11). From Hell Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell............57

2-4 The Body as Cavern (10:12). From Hell Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell ....................58

2-5 Eddie Campbell's Ghost of a Flea (14:17). From Hell Alan Moore & Eddie
C am pb ell .............................................................. ................ 64

4-1 Erecting the Telescope (2:35). ...................................................................... ..119

4 -2 B y ron ? (2 :4 0) ............................................................................................................ 12 0

4 -3 B y ron 's b ack ? (2 :44)............. .... .................................................................. ..... ......... .. 12 1

4-4 The corpse never decays (1:24:00). ............................................................................ 124

4-5 Imm ortality in Putrefaction (10:01). ........................................ ........................... 125

4-6 Byron on Byron/Byrne on Byrne (5:14). ........................................................................128

4-7 Shelley's Cinem atic D eath. (1:18:55)......................................... ......................... 130

4-8 Byron as Fuseli (40:04) .................................... ................ ....................... 132

4-9 Painting haunts film ................ .................. ........................... ......... 133

5-1 A natom ical W om an (her). ..................................................................... ....................163

5-2 Scrambled autopsy. ................................ .................................. .. 164

5-3 Inside the Crypt with (M /S). ...... ........................... ......................................... 171









Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

ROMANTICISM AND THE CULT OF CELEBRITY: AFTERLIVES IN POSTMODERN
FILM AND FICTION

By

Roger T. Whitson

August 2008

Chair: Richard Burt
Cochair: Donald Ault
Major: English

Recent research in celebrity studies demonstrates the importance of fame for a newly

literate middle class confronting large-scale publication during the Romantic period. The

postmodern English department, as part of its critique of these core values, feels impelled to

confront the Romantic category of the author while attempting to find a new institutional identity

in a post-nationalist world. I argue that the appearance of the ghostly apparition of the Romantic

celebrity in postmodern film and fiction reflects anxieties and fantasies over the decline of

literary studies.

My project uses what I call a double history of celebrity to analyze the afterlife of the

Romantic author in postmodern film and fiction. Romantic figures have appeared in varied

places in postmodern popular and academic culture, often depicted as dying or already dead.

Each text reflects, reacts or mocks the anxieties over the marginalization of literature. I analyze

the postmodern afterlife of the literary celebrity as a method of investigating the marginalization

of literary studies. The following chapters examine episodes in the afterlife of the Romantic

celebrity in their confrontation with academic culture.









CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION: THE DEATH OF ROMANTIC CELEBRITY AND THE END OF
LITERARY STUDIES

In a 2008 article for the Chronicle of Higher Education, Mark Edmundson invokes the

differences between Romantic poets to address a growing divide between teachers and students.

He suggests that William Wordsworth's methodical poetry best represents aging academics.

Students are, on the other hand, "of a Byronic sort. He would have adored their world of fast

travel, fast communication-and fast relationships." The student wants immediate gratification

and hooks up with Byron, while the academic secures a more stable and meaningful relationship

with the slow but dependable Wordsworth. Edmundson clearly identifies with Wordsworth and

believes that the hectic life of students, fed by their addiction to the internet and their multiple

majors, will ultimately leave them without either academic success or personal satisfaction.

Wordsworthian nostalgia is seen here as an authentic counterpoint to the rise of global

capitalism, the emptiness of the Byronic hookup, and the loss of a space for personal reflection in

the University.

The substitution performed by Edmundson in this article, poetry signifies an authentic

personality that can fill the hollow lives of students, is haunted by a culture of celebrity whose

history stretches back to the Romantic period. Wordsworth and Byron were both famous during

their lifetimes, though the accounts of their celebrity are very different. Wordsworth's fame is

seen as developing gradually and deliberately, over a period of decades and as his readers slowly

started visiting him in the Lake District. Byron's celebrity, on the other hand, is seen occurring

immediately with the publication of the first edition of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage in 1812. "I

awoke one morning," Byron writes in his Memoranda, "and found myself famous" (qtd. in

Moore 159).









The characterization of Wordsworth's fame as gradual and Byron's as immediate

constructs a tension between the deliberate academic and the overwhelmed, fanatic student. The

academic's Wordsworthian values favor the memorialization of loss and a reconnection with a

past seen as anachronistic. The student's Byronic values, on the other hand, revel in immediacy

and reject the past as unnecessarily nostalgic and ponderous. The distinction between Byron and

Wordsworth is transformed into a distinction between the oblivious student and the mourning

academic. Romantic celebrity acts as Edmundson's object of mourning against what Alan Liu

has characterized as the central anxiety for the postmodern critic, the "loss of loss" (558).

Edmundson's ultimate fear that the student, heedless of either the lessons of Wordsworth or even

of his celebrity, will forget that there was anything to forget in the first place.

This project connects the pathological mourning of literary academics fearing the end of

their discipline to an analysis of the postmodern afterlives of British Romantic celebrity. The

Romantic period not only acts as a historical starting point to analyze celebrity, but also acts as a

search for authenticity posed against a ruined and degraded world. This search pervades many of

the afterlives of the Romantic author in postmodern texts. The Romantic celebrity in my study

emerges as a figure consumed by the mass media, stranded with the remains of European

colonialism, eviscerated by seedy films and poor adaptations, and replaced by more

technologically advanced forms of artistic expression. As an emblem of loss, the Romantic

celebrity haunts a discipline that senses the loss of tenure, the implosion of the academic book

market, the atrophying of the job market, and the end of theory, the liberal arts, even the

University itself. William Deresiewicz, in a review of the twentieth anniversary edition of Gerald

Graff s Professing Literature, suggested that the conflicts which defined the field of literary

criticism "scarcely matter anymore," and that "the profession is [...] dying." The philosophical









and political struggles that formerly defined the life of the English Department are seen by this

critic as, at best, secondary to the slow, inevitable death of literary and cultural criticism. At one

point of this institutional malaise stands the dead celebrity, transformed into a nostalgic figure of

loss and mourning.

I contextualize my study through several different lines of theoretical inquiry concerning:

(1) the relationship between Romanticism and the celebrity; (2) an account of mourning that is

tied to the celebrity's fame; (3) a definition of double history (the method I use to connect the

historical treatment of dead Romantic celebrities to their postmodern afterlives); and (4) an

examination of literary studies and the fears surrounding its demise. My project does not attempt

a comprehensive account of Romantic celebrity's afterlives, nor does it provide a history of

literary studies. I argue instead that the depiction of the dead Romantic celebrity reflects

anxieties and fantasies involving the death and marginalization of literary studies.

This project sees questions of literary death wrapped up in the Romantic celebrity's circuit

between the belief in an authentic personality and the narrative construction of that personality.

A celebrity is, for me, a literary figure who markets a personality. Celebrities promise an

authentic connection to this personality by manufacturing and selling traces of themselves in the

form of pictures, interviews, books, reality television shows, and gossip. Accordingly, much of

the theoretical work done on celebrity focuses on the contradictions surrounding a life that is

marketed for consumption by the public. P. David Marshall, for example, defines celebrity as a

tension between "authentic and false cultural value," fixed between an "embodiment of media

construction, audience construction and the real, living and breathing human being" (xi).

Marshall believes that the celebrity does have a life distinct from the images that circulate in the

mass media, but he suggests that the marketing of the celebrity's image always impacts this real









life. Graeme Turner takes this characterization even further by arguing that people become

celebrities when interest in their public persona causes audiences to start investigating their

personal lives. The desire surrounding the celebrity is focused on accessing the real, personal life

underlying the celebrity's public image. Audiences search for the authentic life of celebrities by

invading their homes, obsessing about their relationships, and attempting to learn their innermost

secrets and beliefs. The belief in a real life underlying a public persona, and the desire to access

that life, feed the desire for knowledge about public figures. When celebrities die, Turner argues,

people feel a disconnection that "may well stem from an affection that is not dissimilar to that

which we might feel for a personal acquaintance" (9). This constructed sense of personal

connection is key, I argue, to understanding the life and the afterlife of the Romantic celebrity.

The mourning of celebrity during the Romantic period similarly combined personal

affection and a marketed public image, but did so to insure immortality after death. Literary

immortality, defined as the use of literature to extend life after the death of the body, existed long

before the early nineteenth century. However, the Romantic period provided a discourse of

popularity that connected immortality to the newly emergent category of literary celebrity.

Authors like William Blake, George Gordon Byron, and Mary Shelley were seemingly made

immortal by the public interest in their literary work and by an attachment to what many saw as a

unique personality. These Romantic celebrities crafted personalities that were attached to the

appreciation of their literary work and became central in their rise to stardom. As Tom Mole has

argued, celebrity emerged during the Romantic period. Celebrity focused on the market

production of a personality to address the mass publication of books in the early nineteenth

century and the rise of a literate middle class. The celebrity acted on a private level for the

literate middle class by appealing to the desires of audiences and providing a personal connection









to an authentic personality untethered to the concerns of everyday life. The celebrity acted on a

public level by appealing to many of these fans simultaneously and creating fan communities

dedicated to spreading the celebrity's popularity. Mole reads celebrity as a category created by

Romantic writers to ensure their popularity among readers needing some mechanism to

determine good writers from bad ones. The construction of what he calls a hermeneutic of

intimacy between readers and writers gave the former an incentive to keep reading the latter's

work: it appropriated the charismatic personality as an escape from the standardization of work

in industrial life, and assured that, through their knowledge of the celebrity author, readers could

remain special and unique (13-14).

Celebrity also promised the preservation of the Romantic author after death. As Andrew

Bennett argues, Romantic authors largely wrote for an audience present after their deaths and

considered fame during their life to be ephemeral. Immortality became a literary question for the

Romantic author seeking celebrity status. The British Romantic period, in this way, signifies a

time of profound change in the literary construction of notoriety and its relationship to questions

of the afterlife and immortality. Reacting to the mass publication of books, the categories of

celebrity and immortality provided a method for nineteenth-century readers to choose which

books would survive and which would fade away into obscurity. My project focuses on this

literary connection fostered by Romantic celebrity and the fear that such a connection might

disappear.

The connection between literary immortality and fame during the Romantic period

constructed a discourse of mourning that divided the real friends of these authors from fans who,

while perhaps feeling a deep connection to the celebrity, nevertheless did not know the author

personally. Consider, for example, Samuel Taylor Coleridge's obituary in the August 1834









edition of the London Times. Coleridge's obituary exemplifies the drama of connection that

would later be translated into a narrative of the poet's immortality. The obituary describes

Coleridge's death as "the quenching in the darkness of another of the few bright stars which

remained to us." The intimate feeling between author and reader is here made into a public

spectacle and the brightness of the celebrity's aura is described on a cosmic level. The obituary

also notes that Coleridge's celebrity makes most of his exploits unnecessary to repeat. The image

of a life, so well known to the public that most of it needs no repetition, is contrasted with the

description of a private funeral at the end of the obituary:

Many of the admirers of his great attainments and his high literary fame and reputation
would have wished to attend, but they were not invited, some even excluded by his friends
who had the conduct of his funeral, and who were best acquainted with the dislike of the
deceased to empty ostentation.

Coleridge's celebrity is made even more mysterious and desirable by the private nature of

his funeral, where his closest friends and those who knew him best reject the mere admirer and

his lack of real feeling. Proper mourning, in this case, is the performance of real feeling based on

a close relationship with the remains of the dead. Improper mourning is empty feeling based on

false knowledge and fake affectation. The play between proper and improper mourning, I argue,

fixes the celebrity's death to a dialectic between true and false feeling. The true friends at

Coleridge's funeral reinforce his memory as a poet dedicated to truth by excluding those who

were not already closely acquainted with him. By rejecting the showy fan, Coleridge's true

friends buttress the poet's claims to authenticity and prove that his notoriety is worthy of being

immortalized.

More dramatically, it is the problem of Coleridge's fame that creates the conditions for

remembering him after death. The need for his friends and family to create a private memorial

attempts to protect a delicate private life that is threatened by the many admirers who know his









work. If the friend constructs a real depiction of the celebrity that is based on true feeling for

celebrities' lives and respect for their reputation, the admirer is busy creating stories based on

empty feeling and incomplete knowledge. As we shall see, the confrontation between friend and

admirer complicates the construction of the celebrity's immortality, memorializing the celebrity

in a mixture of authorized and unauthorized histories, biographies, films, comic books, and

fiction.

The afterlife, in my study, designates this uncertain space of literary immortality,

particularly the depiction and appropriation of the Romantic celebrity in postmodern film and

fiction. As of yet, there is no full-length study connecting Romantic celebrity to the afterlives of

the Romantic author. My project does not valorize either authorized or unauthorized versions of

the Romantic celebrity, but instead shows how the figure of death in both reflects the fear of

losing a connection with the author. In many of the texts I consider, celebrities are portrayed as

dying, engaged in activities that prophesy their death, or as haunting other characters after death.

This tendency is common in many of the texts that cite Romantic authors or feature them as a

character. Peter Ackroyd's Chatterton (1987), for example, depicts the suicide of Thomas

Chatterton caused by the poet's feelings of inadequacy and inability to escape poverty. William

Gibson and Bruce Sterling's steampunk thriller The Difference Engine (1992) features Byron and

Keats as aging poets turned into scientists and politicians after the early invention of the

computer in the nineteenth century. Byron dies during the novel, and his death signifies the

annihilation of poetic discourse by a sudden surge in technological innovation. Amanda

Prantera' s Conversations i/h Lord Byron on perversion, 163 years after his lordship's death

(1987) features a computer programmed to think and respond as Lord Byron. By linking









celebrity with death, these appropriations reveal literary immortality to be a discourse dependent

upon loss, forgetting, and incomplete knowledge.

I reveal conflicts over the mourning of the celebrity by juxtaposing obituaries, biographies,

and literary criticism surrounding the death of Romantic authors with the appearance of these

celebrities in postmodern comic books, film, novels, and hypertext fiction. I also analyze a

degraded belief in the Romantic author's immortality in postmodern texts by comparing the

image of the dead celebrity to the anxieties of academics fearing the ruin of their connection to

the past. The language of ruin and confinement is used by Frederic Jameson to analyze a certain

strand of postmodern historicism that acknowledges a faded connection to the historical past. I

use this analysis to align my project to what he calls postmodernism's "crisis in historicity" (22).

For Jameson, the historical novel can no longer gaze directly at the historical past, but must be

confined to pop images on a screen that can only reveal the simulacrum of history:

If there is any realism left here, it is a "realism" that is meant to derive from the shock of
grasping that confinement and of slowly becoming aware of a new and original historical
situation in which we are condemned to seek History by way of our own pop images and
simulacra of that history, which itself remains forever out of reach. (25)

For Jameson, postmodernism designates the historical period in which realism is obscured by

pop history. He argues that postmodernism condemns historians to the endless repetition of

simulation and forces them to abandon the realism of history for the perpetual reproduction of

pop images. Searching for historical realism, Jameson finds only pop images that constitute a

loss of realism. While I agree with the historical problem identified by Jameson, my response to

postmodernism differs from his because I do not seek to historicize this loss or recapture a

history obscured by the afterlives of Romanticism. I argue that the postmodern simulacrum of

history calls for a new approach to analyzing the afterlife. This new approach takes into

consideration the tension between the simulation of history and the receding connection of the









historian to historical realism. I read this tension as a double history between the Romantic

celebrity's death and immortality. My invocation of "double" recalls the categories of the

uncanny double, mourning and melancholy, and necessitates a turn to psychoanalysis.

By double, I am referring to Freud's understanding of repetition and doubling in The

Uncanny. Freud suggests that doubles are characters "who are to be considered identical because

they look alike" (210). Repetition, on the other hand, includes the "constant recurrence of the

same thing-the repetition of the same features or character traits, or even the same names

through several consecutive generations" (210). Repetition involves the repressed recognition of

sameness that structures history and memory alike. Repetition and doubling began, for Freud and

Otto Rank, with the desire of the ego to preserve itself after death. The soul is created as the first

double of the body, to outlast the body and provide immortality for the narcissistic ego. After

narcissism has been surpassed, the double ceases to promise preservation and instead "becomes

the uncanny harbinger of death" (211). I reflect the roles of the double as preserver and harbinger

of death in the section division of my chapters. These divisions show how the tropes of mourning

associated with Romantic celebrity are repeated in fictional depictions of the Romantic author.

The section divisions also juxtapose images of the dead Romantic celebrity from the nineteenth

century with their repetition in postmodern texts to stage Jameson's conflict between receding

realism and the emergence of pop-history.

As a study of doubling and preservation, my use of double history investigates the impact

of a receding historical realism on the mourning of Romantic celebrity. Freud defined mourning

as "the reaction to the loss of a loved person, or to the loss of some abstraction which has taken

the place of one, such as one's country, liberty, an ideal and so on" (310). He attempts to

distinguish mourning from melancholy by suggesting that melancholy is an example of









"pathological mourning," and by drawing distinctions between mourning patients who hate the

world and melancholic patients who hate themselves (317). Melancholic patients are seen

refusing to let go of the dead. My study is conceptualized around the categories Freud provided

in these essays, but transposes them onto scholarly and academic issues surrounding a proper or

improper way to attend to the dead Romantic author. I employ concepts like ruin, necrophilia,

academic realism, materiality, and the literary crypt to illustrate different methods of Romantic

memorialization tied to the process of mourning. My project does not give a history of

memorializing the Romantic afterlife. Such a project has already been undertaken for individual

Romantic authors in texts like Steve Clark and Masashi Suzuki's edited collection The Reception

ofBlake in the Orient and Atara Stein's The Byronic Hero in Film, Fiction, and Television.

Instead, I attempt to trace a certain parallelism between the mourning of the Romantic celebrity

in the nineteenth century and the mourning of the Romantic celebrity during postmodernism. The

psychoanalytic and institutional concepts I employ in my chapters allow me to give different

theoretical accounts of this parallelism.

The double history surrounding the death of Romantic celebrity is also a method used to

investigate a series of episodes surrounding the decline of literary studies. These episodes take

the form of short vignettes placed at the beginning and end of each chapter, providing a frame for

my reading of mourning and Romantic afterlives. My purpose is to provide an impression of the

anxiety associated with the death of literary studies by linking this anxiety thematically to the

concerns of the chapter. Defining literary studies opens a veritable Pandora's box of issues that

have characterized many of the debates in English Departments for decades. Thus I will provide

a simple definition to start addressing the more complex theoretical issues pertinent to my

project. Literary studies defines a field within the English Department that is associated with









what John Guillory has called the values of the "old bourgeoisie." For Guillory, the old

bourgeoisie valued literature because it provided what he defines-through a reading of Pierre

Bourdieu-as cultural capital: a cultural system of exchange based on power and status (viii-xi).

With the rise of the "new class," and its loss of interest in older cultural symbols of class, the

value of literary study has declined. While I agree with Guillory that the definition of literature

has been a class issue, and that the emergence of the new class system within the framework of

globalization signals the end of a certain form of literary cultural capital, I also agree with

Michael Berube who argues that the end of this sense of cultural capital does not necessarily

signal either the death of literary studies or the end of the English Department.

I am more interested in how the image of death and the mourning of the celebrity provide a

language for literary academics confronting marginalization and how their responses are

reflected in the reception of the Romantic author's afterlives. I approach literary studies, in this

way, as an effect of the double, a persistence left over from the remains of Guillory's old

bourgeoisie that inspires mourning. I am, however, more interested in the process of mourning

than I am in the real or imagined state of the institution. Romanticism, in the episodes I cover in

my project, rethinks the role of academics confronting the end of literary studies by connecting

mourning to the death experienced by the celebrity. Much of the work on the end of literary

studies foregrounds marginalization as a consequence of lost connections between the teaching

of English and nationalism. It is in the distinction between national spirit and institutional loss


1 B&rub suggests that while the cultural value of "literature" might have declined, English graduates remain highly
employable.

not because they mark their recipients as literate, well-rounded young men and women who can allude to
Shakespeare in business memos, but because they mark their recipients as people who can potentially
negotiate a wide range of intellectual tasks and handle (in various ways) disparate kinds of 'textual'
material. (22-3)









that I situate my discussion of the death of literary studies. I read these texts as evidence of a

larger trend in the mourning of literary studies that associates the discipline's past with life, and

fears a certain kind of disciplinary death sometime in the near future. Bill Readings's The

University in Ruins, for example, includes an entire chapter on the development of literary

studies in the late nineteenth century. The birth of literary studies occurs, for Readings, as a

contrast with the emerging scientific and industrial culture of the nineteenth century and as a

cultural vehicle for the spread of nationalism. Its status as the preeminent discipline of the

University, moreover, is also shown to be largely responsible for its identity as a discipline.

Therefore "once the link between literary study and the formation of the model citizen has been

broken, then literature emerges as one field among others" making the literary canon "the

arbitrary delimitation of a field of knowledge (an archive) rather than as the vessel that houses

the vital principle of the national spirit" (86). Instead of enjoying prestige, fame, and notoriety as

the center of the University, literary studies is seen as arbitrary and ultimately irrelevant.

Readings's account of the declining importance of literary study is especially pertinent to

my project because it registers this loss in terms of vitality and spirit. The English Department is

seen as a direct link or embodiment of national spirit turned into a hollow, arbitrary field whose

institutional space is filled with ruin and decay. Spirit provides a language to discuss the

disjunction between literature and its vitality. As a spirit, literary study can animate the body of

the nation-state; as an arbitrary delimitation, literary study is nothing more than a hideous double

of spirit and life. The distinction between vital spirit and arbitrary delimitation fixes the

discourse of ruin into a narrative of life and death. What was once alive and vital, connected

naturally and logically to the nation-state, is seen now as empty and arbitrary, persisting only as a

phantasm of life.









I argue that the appearance of this phantasm is a symptom of a certain institutional malaise

that relies upon the following beliefs: that literary studies was once somehow vital and coherent,

that academics could connect to this living institution by engaging in literary study, and that now

this connection has been degraded by the dissolution of the field. Furthermore, these assumptions

are analogous to the beliefs of fans who personally feel the loss connected to the dying Romantic

celebrity: that the celebrity was a real person, that poetry or writing connected fans to the

personal life of the celebrity, and that the intrusion of the admirer's empty ostentation can

somehow degrade or frustrate connections to the past. I trace these analogies as part of a larger

analysis of the symptoms governing the connection or disconnection between contemporary

readers and writers from the British Romantic period.

Other work on the marginalization of literary studies also circles around the problem of a

lost connection between the academic reader and literary writer, and the displacement of

literature from the discourse of national identity. Gayatri Spivak's Death of a Discipline argues

that comparative literature cannot continue to identify with national identities, yet struggles with

an alternative to the figure of the individual author as a locus of study. J. Hillis-Miller's On

Literature acknowledges that literary studies is dying due to the exodus of scholars from

canonical texts and their movement towards film and popular culture. Derek Attridge's The

Singularity of Literature appeals to the inability of literature to be defined as a sign of its

persistence even in the possibility that literature is displaced by other objects of study. Both

Stephen Greenblatt's and Marjorie Perloff s addresses to the MLA, in 2002 and 2006

respectively, emphasize the need for reconnection with the ghosts of the dead and highlight the

spectral role of literature in the English Department. The rhetoric surrounding these texts speaks

of a transition from literary studies's living past to its persistence beyond death as a double of its









former self. By juxtaposing these texts with the depiction of the dead Romantic celebrity, I show

how the language of death reveals an institution struggling to identify and attend to the ghosts it

sees emerging from the once vital body of literary studies.

"Romanticism and the Cult of Celebrity" uses readings of the Romantic celebrity in

historical episodes and postmodern texts to show how the postmodern reception of Romanticism

inspires, reflects, or reacts to fears of the marginalization of literature and literary studies. The

chapters are organized thematically. Each chapter reads a historical or theoretical problem in the

memorialization of the Romantic celebrity, and then juxtaposes that problem with a particular

postmodern work fictionally recreating or appropriating Romantic celebrities in a narrative of

death and mourning. These chapters also investigate Romantic celebrities in different media,

demonstrating the impact of literary death on new forms of communication increasingly studied

in English Departments. Chapter 2 explores the transformation of the Romantic celebrity's dead

body from an object of mystical veneration to a physical object consumed by academic and

popular audiences. The obituaries and early biographies figure Blake as a character revered by

literary occultists and spiritualists who saw his mystical poetry and his eccentric life as knowable

only by a select group that can decode the poet's hidden meaning. I then look at more

contemporary accounts of Blake's death that focus on the physical and medical conditions that

brought about the end of his life. Instead of hiding mystery and promising transcendence,

Blake's death is reduced to a physical event experienced by a physical body. By examining these

accounts, I link the transformation in attitudes over the celebrity's death to the scholarly focus on

materiality in Blake studies. I then argue that both reflect an academic institution anxiously

managing its own ruin as it abandons the ideological argument over Blake's work and focuses

increasingly on the physical remains of his body.









The second section of Chapter 2 reads Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's From Hell

(2000), where both Blake's afterlife and the story of the Whitechapel murders are appropriated in

an allegory of the rise of mass media. Blake, referred to either in conversations or depicted in the

visions of murderers, is made into a symbol of a fading literary and mystical past. I argue that

while Moore shows empathy for the mystic past and mourns the loss of mystery tied to that past,

he also removes himself from the psychological horror of the Ripper murders and a direct

connection with Blake's visions. William Blake, in both From Hell and in the accounts

surrounding his death, embodies a shift for the celebrity between a literary death and a death

mediated by the increasingly forensic imagination of the twentieth century. Literary death, in my

analysis, is linked with mystery, depth, and mysticism. Forensic death is linked with the

emerging technologies of the mass media and the interdisciplinary politics of an English

Department where the celebrity is turned into a material and physical corpse.

An analysis of the institutional fetishism associated with the authorial corpse is articulated

more fully in Chapter 3, which examines the necrophilic fantasies surrounding Romantic literary

culture. I begin with Byron's corpse and the accounts of friends, lovers, and fans who wrote

about seeing his body after the poet's death in Greece. The Byronic corpse is not only made into

an object of intimacy and desire, but is also constructed to embody an authenticity that many of

these figures fear that they do not have. I also link the construction of Byron's corpse as an

object of desire to theories of necrophilia defining the libidinal attachment to the corpse as a sign

of pathological mourning. The accounts surrounding Byron's corpse assured readers that the

authenticity associated with Byron's poetry and his life had not disappeared when Byron died,

and substituted the authenticity Byron signified for the physical characteristics of his corpse. The









fan of Byron's poetry is transformed, by an authenticity figured in the substitution of poetic truth

for the presence of the corpse, into a necrophiliac.

My discussion of intimacy and necrophilia is transposed to the mined University in the

second section of Chapter 3. This section focuses on Byron's spectral presence in J. M.

Coetzee's Disgrace (1999), a novel that traces the fate of a University in South Africa through

the character David Lurie. The increasingly moralizing tone of Lurie's colleagues and the

corporatizing practices of his University are contrasted with a professor's personal interest in

communicating the beliefs of Byron to his students. Lurie's invocation of Byron is a desperate

attempt to cling onto the intimacy and authenticity his celebrity signifies against the academic's

sense of isolation and marginality. It is an example of what I call in the chapter academic

necrophilia: a tendency on the part of academics to sublimate fears about the marginalization of

literature by claiming intimacy with dead literary celebrities. Lurie attaches himself to the corpse

of the Romantic celebrity and the mined carcass of the University as signifiers of authenticity

and intimacy, but by doing so fails to challenge the corporatization of education. By looking at

the historical and fictional necrophilia associated with Byron, I show how the corpse transforms

promises of intimacy into necrophilia and constructs the celebrity's remains as a connection to a

personality that signifies both historical and poetic authenticity.

Chapter 4 connects the celebrity's claim to authenticity with what I call academic realism:

the belief that the academic has a special relationship with the dead. Academic realism is an

extension of the intimacy constructed by the celebrity between themselves and the fan. I begin by

looking at literary biography, which is seen by scholars as a dangerous genre lurking somewhere

between popular and academic cultures. By analyzing Mary Shelley's 1831 introduction to

Frankenstein, a text written for fans that demanded information on the composition of the novel,









I reveal that the intrusion of the gothic into Mary's narrative complicates its claim to realism.

Some of the events clearly happened, yet others were invented to reflect the gothic conventions

of Shelley's novel. I, then, turn to biographical discussions of the summer in Radu Florescu's In

Search for Frankenstein (1975) and Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler's The Monsters: The Curse of

Frankenstein (2006). Both biographies stress the gothic nature of the events during a summer

and their uncanny role in determining the fate of Mary Shelley's circle.

Ken Russell's film Gothic (1987) is characterized in the second section of chapter 4 as an

example of film invading the construction of literary history. Literary critics almost universally

find Russell's film a degraded and violent representation of the Haunted Summer. Gothic

critiques literary production as a ticket to literary immortality by complicating the desire to

directly enter the private life of the literary celebrity. The film opens with a group of fans

wishing to see inside Byron's Villa Diodati and catch a glimpse of the poet. I suggest that this

framing device by Russell places the realism of the entire film into question by linking the

viewing of the celebrity with sexuality and desire, and by presenting Byron as a shifting phantom

unavailable to the direct gaze. I then turn to the phantom of Mary's dead baby William, a ghost

who haunts Shelley throughout the film and is provided as the reason the author begins work on

Frankenstein. While both Byron and Shelley separate themselves from the rest of the circle by

appealing to literary immortality, Gothic never depicts the authors actually writing anything.

Finally, I look at the representation of the painted image in Gothic as a flattening out of the

indexical link to the literary past. An examination of the Haunted Summer of 1816, in both its

biographic and film representations, reveals the historical event as a spectral repetition of fan

desire and critiques the separation of history from fiction, academic from fan, and life from

afterlife.









The depiction of Mary Shelley in Chapter 5 charts the encryption of the Romantic

celebrity's life in her afterlife. Mary was usually referred to as the relative of more famous men:

"daughter of Godwin," or "husband of Percy." I examine how this embedding of the celebrity in

a history of her relatives impacts the characterization of Mary's melancholy. I also argue that the

discourse of melancholy uses a fictional characterization of loss and its ties to writing in Mary's

novels to seal off or encrypt Mary's personality as an object of criticism. Reading the diaries and

journals that detail the death of Mary's mother, her children and her husband, I show how critical

works analyzing Mary's melancholy use fiction to articulate Mary's personality as a depressive. I

also show how academic criticism of Mary's melancholy is commodified and marketed in a self-

help book, as a cure for people suffering from depression. Mary's celebrity buries her in a crypt

of melancholy, sealed off by the academic and commercial writers who market her personality to

their audiences.

The second section of Chapter 5 applies Mary's melancholic personality to the

disappearance of her character and the annihilation of literature in Shelley Jackson's Patchwork

Girl (1995). Reviews of Patchwork Girl praise it for bringing the literary experience to

hypertext. Yet, I argue that the slow disappearance of Mary Shelley from the text allegorizes the

evacuation of literature's significance to hypertext. Patchwork Girl, a hypertext presented in a

series of screens that open and close, buries Mary Shelley inside her creature. The journal section

of the hypertext begins in Mary's point of view, and then switches to the monster, who ingests a

sliver of Mary's flesh in memory of the author. Mary is referred to less and less often in the latter

portion of the text, until her name disappears completely. I show how the same text designed to

preserve literature also narrates the annihilation of the authorial persona. Patchwork Girl both

preserves and destroys literature by reducing the depiction of Mary Shelley to a blank screen









labeled "M/S." This screen operates as a blank signifier, preserving a trace of Mary's name

without any content. Mary's preservation in Jackson's text only occurs by effacing her memory.

By examining the encryption of fiction and literature in Mary Shelley's afterlife, I link the

fantasy of literary preservation to the erasure of the authorial persona.

All of these texts foreground the death of Romantic celebrity to stage a confrontation

between literary reading, academia, popular audiences and the mass media. As academic figures

are portrayed lamenting the end of literary study, filmmakers, hypertext authors, and comic book

writers depict the waning of literature by contrasting a mythical past with an uncertain future. As

I show in my chapters, several academics fear a disruption between themselves and the authors

they teach in their classrooms. Postmodern appropriations of Romanticism reflect, diagnose, and

mock that anxiety, and in the process reveal the literary afterlife as a playground of ghosts and

specters.









CHAPTER 2
OCCULT BLAKEANA: THE DEATH OF LITERATURE, THE MANAGEMENT OF RUIN,
AND ALAN MOORE AND EDDIE CAMPBELL' S FROM HELL

It is commonplace to suggest that William Blake's fame is mostly posthumous in nature.

Blake's notoriety is based on his conversations with dead prophets and philosophers and the

numerous writers who decided to argue for his inclusion in the literary canon after his death. His

poetic allusions to specters, ghosts, bones, and graves have fixed him in the eyes of some critics

as belonging more to the tradition of eighteenth-century graveyard poets than to the more

extravagant Romantic poets of the nineteenth century. The centrality of death in Blake's rise to

literary status is, in fact, such a widely accepted idea that Andrew Bennett, who excluded Blake

from his study of the posthumous reception to Romantic period poets, had to include an

apologetic endnote. Bennett knows that Blake's absence might be seen as "perverse," yet he

argues that Blake's actual obscurity is a very different problem from the "cultural production of

the neglected genius" during the Romantic period (203). While Blake does not fit into the more

accepted nineteenth-century forms of obscurity touted by Bennett, his posthumous

characterization by poets and academics emphasizes neglect to frame his appeal. Blake is

celebrated to the degree that he is depicted as marginal, poor, degraded and, above all, dead. As

Christoph Ehland has said of John Keats, Blake is seen as a poet whose "paths of glory began in

the grave" (391).

The story of Blake's posthumous fame can be seen as an allegory for more recent attempts

to reinscribe literature as a central genre for study in English Departments. J. Hillis-Miller's On

Literature (2002) recasts the importance of literature in the ashes of its death. He suggests that

the death of literature is occurring with the loss of funding, the digitalization of literary works

like those of the William Blake Archive, and the shift of disciplinary emphasis from literary to

popular culture and film by newer scholars. Yet he also suggests that literature has a certain









power to "go on signifying in the total absence of any phenomenal referent," generating

imaginative spaces beyond its institutional ones (16). Miller's characterization of literature

resists, by dying, the real economic entities poised against it. Derek Attridge picks up this

hyperbolic role of literature in The Singularity of Literature (2004), where the power of the

literary is seen as a result of a theoretical inability to define literature. Its singularity is a product

of its being beyond institutional methods of understanding. These texts articulate a spectral

property to literature in its relationship to the English Department that is central to this chapter.

Literature may have lost its place institutionally, according to Miller and Attridge, but some

property persists after institutional and theoretical failures to articulate a single field for literary

discourse. Literature's persistence, like that of Blake's fame, is articulated as a ghostly

singularity whose power resides in death and failure.

This chapter examines this spectral persistence of literature by analyzing the politics

surrounding Blake's death. I argue that depictions of Blake's death appropriate the remains of

the poet in both institutional and popular controversies surrounding the perceived demise of

literature. The character of these depictions reflects what I call an interdisciplinary management

culture embedded in Blake's afterlife persona. My reading of this culture is indebted to Marc

Bousquet's suggestion that the field of rhetoric and composition has turned towards what he calls

"pragmatic philosophies." The pragmatic philosophies driving composition studies act to manage

competing ideological positions and fix the Writing Program Administrator as a medium

between the interests of administration and the interests of graduate assistants. Bousquet argues

that the "debunking of critical theory and cultural studies has acquired no traction outside the

field of rhetoric and composition" (175). I argue, on the other hand, that this managerial ethos

has infiltrated the critical and popular reception of William Blake, delegating his persona to









policing the boundaries between literature and the mass media, identity, and interdisciplinarity.

While the management of composition involves the "debunking" of critical theory, I argue that

the management of Blake focuses theory around identity positions in conflict and then works to

turn that conflict into compromise. William Blake as a managerial persona, in this way, reflects

an attempt to control the spectral form of literature.

The first section focuses on a transition in the way Blake's death is depicted from those

characterizing him as an eccentric, mystical figure in obituaries and biographies in the nineteenth

century to more recent academic criticism that focuses on his physical body. I suggest that such

academic accounts parallel the critical interest in analyzing the material composition of Blake's

illuminated poetry. Both developments are symptomatic of an academic culture employing an

interest in the material artifact to manage and balance what is seen as a ruined connection to the

literary past. The second section looks at Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's depiction of Blake

in From Hell (2000) as an allegory for the death of the mystic and the loss of literary meaning.

Moore's inability to fully sympathize with what he sees as Blake's mysticism forces him to

portray the poet policing the boundaries between mystical enthusiasm and ritual violence. To

keep William Gull's ritual violence in check, William Blake captures his enthusiasm in a

painting that signifies the darker side of mysticism and encloses Gull's more violent fantasies. I

see Moore and Campbell's comic in a wider sense, charting and enacting the disciplining of

mystical enthusiasm and the creation, in its place, of the international media corporation.2

Blake's afterlife conspires with literary nostalgia to manage both the fantasies of the killer and

the anxieties of the literary academic. As a posthumous celebrity, then, William Blake's death

21 use the terms "comic book," "comics," and "comic" instead of "graphic novel" mostly due to Alan Moore's
stated preference of the former over the latter. In a 2000 interview with Barry Kavanaugh, Moore stated that graphic
novel is "not a term that I'm very comfortable with" due to its tendency to be a "marketing term" that came to mean
"expensive comic book." While many of Alan Moore's texts are referred to as graphic novels, most of them were
first published as a series of comic book issues.









acts as a blank, physical screen upon which the comic artist and the academic can project their

anxieties over the demise of mystical thought and the ruin of literary culture.

The Many Deaths of William Blake

How many times has Blake died? One year before his death, William Blake signs in the

autograph book of William Upcott "WILLIAM BLAKE one who is very much delighted with

being in good company / Born 28 Nov, 1757 in London & has died several times since" (E.

675).3 Most critics have suggested this statement to be part of Blake's larger critique of modern

subjectivity. Wayne Glausser places the autograph in the larger Blakean motif of self-

annihilation, arguing that Blake engaged in a Foucauldian critique of selfhood and biopolitics.

Kathleen Lundeen sees the autograph as part of Blake's critique of origins and approaches it in

her Derridean reading of"Tyger," suggesting that the animal's origins are forever obscured by

its many births. And Jeremy Tambling sets the autograph against the Nietzschean proclamation

of the posthumous self: authors who write from the belief that they are already dead.4 In each

account, the question of Blake's many deaths figures prominently as a hermeneutic device

engaged in fixing Blake's mystique as a writer whose reflections about death inform his work.

The writing surrounding Blake's biological death, however, remains a much smaller topic

for critical discussion. In this section, I argue that depictions of Blake's death reflect the status of

literature as first a discourse of mysticism and revelation and then as a discourse of identity,

physicality, and disciplinarity. Soon after Blake's death, these depictions focused on his mystical

identity as reasons for incorporating him into the canon of literary authors. More recently,



3 Unless otherwise stated, all references to Blake's poetry comes from David Erdman's Complete Poetry and Prose
of William Blake, hereafter referred to in parenthetical citations as "E."
4 See Glausser's Locke and Blake: A Conversation Across the Ehit.... it r Century, Lundeen's Knight of the Living
Dead: William Blake and the Problem of Ontology, and Tambling's Becoming Posthumous: Life and Death in
Literary and Cultural Studies respectively for these arguments.









Blake's physical body has displaced interest in his mystical identity. Two broad interests

dominate the discourse surrounding Blake's death. The first celebrates his death as ascension to a

higher plane where Blake emerges as a prophet whose eccentric personality suggests connections

with life after death. The second, characterized most dramatically with the publication of

"Blake's Death" by Lane Robison and Joseph Viscomi, medicalizes his final days and treats the

poet's death as a physical event. In the beginning of Radical Blake, Shirley Dent and Jason

Whittaker briefly note this contrast between mythology and materialism as an example of the

"proliferate" nature of Blake's vision. Blake inspires both the materialist and the mythographer

just as he inspires the "lone mystic as well as the gregarious revolutionary" (13). My account, on

the other hand, articulates how the many deaths of Blake constitute him as both a mystical figure,

in that his notoriety is based on his mystical eccentricity, and a figure for the postmodern English

Department, as his numerous identities are made to manage disciplinary borders. Blake's many

deaths, in other words, serve to balance and reflect the many identity positions held by his

increasingly interdisciplinary cultural critics. The survival of William Blake as a relevant literary

figure, here, is dependent upon his ability to occupy several different disciplinary positions

simultaneously.

Blake's autograph regarding his many deaths is reported by an obituary in one of the first

notices about the poet's passing in the September 1827 issue of The Monthly Magazine. The

obituary ends its notice with an autograph, punctuating the sentence with three exclamation

marks suggesting Blake's eccentric audacity. It is this audacity, the author of the obituary claims,

that secures Blake's fame and greatness. The death notice functions primarily as posthumous

publicity for the now dead poet, suggesting that he is "one of those ingenious persons which

every age has produced, whose eccentricities were still more remarkable than their professional










abilities, the memory of which extra circumstances have largely contributed to the perpetuation

of their fame" (BR 351).5 The statement made by Blake that he died several deaths and that he

talked to dead spirits is taken as evidence of his eccentricity. The author of the obituary admits

that he cannot agree with Blake's belief in supernatural spirits, but suggests that this

extraordinary and seemingly impossible intuition makes his art worthy of critical attention.

Astonishingly, the obituary goes on, Blake was neither a raving lunatic nor was he the only one

who believed he saw the dead. Appreciating Blake's art, according to this obituary, lends the

possibility of connecting with an extraordinary mind that saw the world of the dead.6

The promise of a connection with the supernatural drives the author of the obituary to

excitement and hyperbole that eventually takes over the earlier somber tone of the notice. The

author mentions the composition of what he calls Blake's "The Man Flea" (named "Ghost of a

Flea" by Blake). The author describes The Man Flea as tracing the line between the sublime and

the ridiculous. The flea apparition begins speaking to Blake, describing how initially it was

designed to be as large as a human being, but soon the designer was worried, "I should have been


5 Two texts that are invaluable in this study are G. E. Bentley's Blake Records, which include many of the obituaries
I cite here and Joseph Wittreich's Nineteenth-CenturyAccounts of William Blake. Bentley's texts will hereafter be
cited with the initials BR, while Wittreich's will be referenced with his name. See also Suzanne Hoover's
groundbreaking essay "William Blake in the Wilderness: A Closer Look at his Reputation, 1827-1863," for a good
reading of his reception in the nineteenth century.
6 See Joseph Viscomi's argument that Blake was essentially stylized as an "artist's artist" available only to a few due
to the small amounts of prints that were made of his "visionary heads" and sketches between 1827 and 1863. For
Viscomi, "the nature and aesthetic of his new reproductive process affected the kinds of work selected and excluded
for reproduction, the result of which was to emphasize Blake the printmaker and poet rather than the painter"
("Blake after" 215). See also Crabb Robinson's letter to Dorothy Wordsworth in which he had hoped to introduce
Blake's work. Robinson states that Blake is, like Jacob Boheme and Swedenborg, a visionary who lives:

in a world of his own, enjoying constant intercourse with the world of spirits. He receives visits from
Shakespeare, Milton, Dante, Voltaire, etc. etc. etc., and has given me repeatedly their very words in their
conversations. His paintings are copies of what he saw in his Visions. His books (and his MSS. are
immense in quality) are dictated from the spirits. He told me yesterday that when he writes it is for the
spirits only; he sees the words fly about the room the moment he has put them on paper, and his book is
then published. (Wittreich 273-4)









a too mighty destroyer; it was determined to make me-no bigger than I am" (BR 352). As one

of Blake's "visionary heads," the flea's story reinforces the author's belief in Blake's astounding

eccentricity. The author then suggests that the image "is indubitably the most ingenious, and able

personification of a devil, or a malignant and powerfulfiend, that ever emanated from the

inventive pencil of a painter" (BR 253). The author displaces the question of Blake's madness to

one of aesthetic genius, translates the flea's soliloquy into moralistic language denoting evil, and

suggests that the dead poet's works-with the possibility that they are connected to the realm of

the dead-can give us insight into his profound abilities. Blake is transformed from a simple

eccentric individual to the icon of a poet by ignoring his madness and focusing on the aesthetic

impact of his work.

Many of the other obituaries juxtaposed Blake's eccentricity with his artistic ability. The

18 August 1827 edition of the Literary Gazette addressed its obituary with the words "[t]o those

few who have sympathies for the idea and (comparatively speaking) the intellectual in art." It

then immediately speaks out against Blake's marginalization, angered that the artist "has been

allowed to exist in a penury which most artists-beings necessarily of a sensitive temperament--

would deem intolerable" (BR 348-9). The artist is both poor and extraordinarily sensitive. The

Monthly Magazine notes, "William Blake, born about the year 1761, was a very remarkable, and

a very eccentric character" (BR 354). The genius of Blake is based on his marginalized status

and his eccentricity. The focus on Blake's oddity permeates most of the first mentions of his

name after his death. The 1 November 1827 edition of The Gentleman 's Magazine says that

Blake was "an excellent, but eccentric artist;" Charles Lamb called the language of the new

edition of John Bunyan published in 1828 "Blake's ravings made genteel"; and John Varley's

Zodiacal Physiognomy (1828) characterizes Blake as "so much of an enthusiast, that he could









call up from the vasty deep any spirits or corporeal or other forms desired for the nonce" (BR

372). From the beginning, arguments focused on Blake's eccentricity as a determinant of his

fame. Some saw his eccentricity as an unfortunate affliction of an otherwise important artist.

Other saw it either as essential to his worthy but limited fame or as evidence that he would never

achieve literary notoriety.

Frederic Tatham uses these elements of eccentricity and Blake's connection to the

supernatural in his celebrated depiction of the poet's death. Tatham's account of Blake vacillates

between representing him in unearthly pain and depicting him as an angel moving to the next

world. Blake's final moments are seen as a sublime movement from the earthly plane into

heaven. Tatham depicts Blake looking over a colored print of the Ancient ofDays as he

experiences his final attack. He places the print down, saying that he's done all he can to the

piece. Blake then draws Catherine's portrait, finishes it, and

Began to sing Hallelujahs & songs of joy & Triumph which Mrs. Blake described as being
truly sublime in music & in Verse. He sang loudly & with true extatic[sic] energy and
seemed too happy that he had finished his course. [...] His bursts of gladness made the
room peal again. The Walls rang & resounded with the beatific Symphony. (BR 527-8)

For Tatham, Blake's unearthly and sublime music bridges life and death. Blake's "spirit departed

like the sigh of a gentle breeze & he slept in company with the mighty ancestors he had formerly

depicted" (BR 528). Tatham transforms the lowly painter and poet into a visionary capable of

using language and song to transcend the pain of death. Blake's final scene here characterizes

him as a poet and a mystic of the highest order. Catherine says that the music Blake sings is

sublime and that the verses suggested Blake's joy in ending his earthly existence. The walls are

physically transformed by the sublimity of Blake's song, becoming like instruments in a giant

orchestra and echoing his unearthly melody. If Blake was poor on Earth, Tatham suggests that









death has made him into a poet of eternity whose words can literally transform the material of

Earthly existence.

For Alexander Gilchrist, the transcendent rhetoric of Tatham's account marked Blake as a

poet who was marginalized because of his ability to connect with the sublime worlds of Heaven.

Gilchrist begins his biography on Blake and describes him as the "one name [that] has been

hitherto perseveringly exiled" (1). The hyperbole singles out Blake as an object remembered by

Gilchrist because the mainstream literary community has forgotten him. Gilchrist recounts

Tatham's story of a Blake that died silently with his wife, but also includes a short "posthumous"

section that details the burying of Blake in an unmarked grave without a head stone. This fact

gives Gilchrist a strangely satisfied but also frustrated tone in the conclusion of Blake's

biography-Blake is made into a mythological being who is destined to be unknown. Gilchrist

depicts a dead Blake wandering aimlessly and "lonely around that drear, sordid Golgotha" and

"dejected in that squalid Hades" (408). Blake's Hades and Golgotha are Bunhill Fields, his

cemetery, where the lack of a gravestone marker for his body constitutes the space as a horrid

Purgatory. The poet's spirit lacks meaning and direction. Gilchrist sees Blake's true message,

and his true self, still obscured by his marginality. It is this mystery, marginalization, and

absence of a mark for Blake's body that contributes to Gilchrst's sense of Blake's singularity and

his call for readers to attend to Blake's work.

The belief in a distinct individuality maintained by Blake's eccentricity continues in his

posthumous Victorian notoriety. Algernon Swinburne calls Blake "[t]he greatest English poet

except Collins who had the fortune or misfortune to be born into a century far greater in progress

than in poetry" (v). Blake's marginality, for Swinburne, is due to a low state of English poetry

and a public who does not have the intellectual capability to properly appreciate his art. Dante









Gabriel Rossetti found it almost impossible to place Blake's poetry within a tradition because

Blake is so removed from ordinary ideas "that it will be impossible to attribute to them any

decided place among the impulses which have directed the extraordinary mass of poetry,

displaying power of one or another kind, which has been brought before us, from his day to our

own" (454). For Rossettii, it is this eccentric personality that makes Blake unique and argues for

a literary status above the extraordinary mass of British poetry. Shirley Dent has shown that

Swinburne and Rossettii, along with many other readers of Blake during the Victorian period,

suggested the idea of a special reader or singular individual who alone was able to read Blake's

poetry. Swinburne and the Pre-Raphaelites, she argues, were central in representing Blake as

particularly suited to artists and intellectuals. Nineteenth-century readers of Blake pointed to his

eccentricity as evidence of a special status in literary culture. Blake's singular status as a poet

who talked to the dead should be celebrated. However it requires a particular type of reader to do

so.

Dent's work on Blake also, reveals a symptom that characterizes more contemporary

academic texts addressing the poet's death. Dent not only decries the elitism of figures like

Swinburne and Rossetti and their theory of a special reader, but also finds it difficult to propose

an alternative, since she feels that to portray Blake as a popular poet risks not respecting his

complexity. Her suggestion is that Blake should be available to everyone, and "isn't our Blake,

in either the popular or any other sense. No art that is truly great can remain 'ours' for very long:

it is its greatness that transcends time and place [...] that makes it universal. Great art is for

everyman, not just art heritage lovers. Blake is there for the taking" (68). Dent's article suggests

that, now, Blake is there to be taken. By being available to everyone, Blake is made a passive

object defined by the desires of others or the vaguely defined "everyman." Dent also enacts an









ideological shift in the appreciation of Blake's literary status. Whereas his nineteenth-century

critics emphasized Blake's eccentricity and difficulty as evidence of his worth to a literary circle,

Dent's account suggests a need to characterize Blake as a figure of availability. Blake is

positioned as a pragmatic medium between the literary world and the popular world. Once he is

available to everyone, his poetry can reflect the identity and interests of his now limitless

audience.

Other critics, like David Baulch, also see Blake as operating in a pragmatic space that is

available to a multitude of audiences. In a review of Julia Wright's Blake, Nationalism, and the

Politics ofAlienation, Baulch praises Wright's book for "writing within both theoretical and

historical approaches to its subject" and contributing to the "attempts to more fully theorize

history and appropriately historicize theory." In Baulch's view the balancing of history and

theory provides the appropriate pragmatic compromise between two otherwise conflicting

disciplinary approaches. In a similar pragmatic vein, the introduction to Steve Clark and Jason

Whittaker's Blake, Modernity and Popular Culture argues that, "[i]n terms of his reception,

Blake can be thought of as a self-constituting and individualist Romantic imagination or as a

composite product of intersecting discourses" (7). The authors argue that the two ways of

thinking about Blake "are by no means exclusive" and conclude that they must be thought

together (7). Unwilling to let go of Blake's literary status, the theory surrounding late twentieth-

century approaches to literary criticism, historicism, or Blake's identity as an individualist

imagination, these texts conjoin seemingly incompatible approaches to literary criticism as a

pragmatic compromise to the conflicts of the past. Instead of arguing over the appropriateness of

William Blake as a literary figure, these texts use Blake to reflect their own compromises over

disciplinary identity and critical method.









Walter Benn Michaels argues that this language of conflict management characterizes the

contemporary pragmatic culture of what he calls posthistoricism. Abandoning the argument over

interpretation and ideology and embracing instead the language of identity and belief, pragmatist

readers end up favoring what Michaels calls response over interpretation. Criticism abandons

arguments over meaning and manages conflicts between identity:

The way to defend those beliefs that seem to you true is to give your reasons for believing
in them. [...] But just as the point of redescribing your beliefs as your feelings (your
interpretations as your responses) is to make arguing for them both irrelevant and
impossible. It's impossible because you can't give any reasons that justify your feelings
(the most you can do is explain why you have them); it's irrelevant because you don't need
any reasons to justify your feelings. You're entitled to them without having to justify them.
(77)

The culture of identity and belief is, furthermore, connected to the more widespread interest in

the material or physical features of literary texts-which also privileges individual experience.

[A]nyone who thinks the text consists of its physical features (of what Derrida calls its
marks) will be required also to think that the meaning of the text is crucially determined by
the experience of its readers, and so the question of who the reader is-and the
commitment to the primacy of identity as such-is built into the commitment to the
materiality of the signifier. (13)

In this sense, an interest in the management of academic identity is figured in the shift from

considering Blake a mystical eccentric whose meaning is decipherable only by a select class, to

considering Blake as a mediator between classes, disciplines and critical methods.7

Indeed, the attention to the material features of Blake's texts has formed a fundamental

part of Blake criticism for at least the past twenty years. The Santa Cruz Blake Study Group, for

instance, criticized David Erdman's Complete Poetry andProse of William Blake in 1984 for its



7 Michaels is vague about when posthistoricism began, though his subtitle "1967 to the end of history" suggests that
1967 was a pivotal year. In fact, Michaels's historical argument is the weakest part of the book. This is despite the
book's stated intention to chart a historical disciplinary shift. While I find Michaels's book relies too much on false
dichotomies (we either embrace identity politics and materiality or we return to ideology and meaning, for example),
I also find his commitment to understanding the ideological roots of identity politics important to my analysis of
Blake's status as a poet who can be made available to different identity groups.









lack of attention to the spatial form of Blake's poems. Joseph Viscomi's massive 1993 work,

Blake and the Idea of the Book, extended this critique. It explains in detail, the technical process

by which Blake's material texts came into being. As Blake is made to mediate between different

identity positions, scholars become increasingly interested in the material text as a site for

criticism. Justin Van Kleek spends an entire article in the Summer 2005 edition of Blake: an

Illustrated Quarterly analyzing the mark above "Zoas" on the title page of Blake's poem Vala or

the Four Zoas. According to Van Kleek, the mark resembles an apostrophe and should be

discussed in newer editions of his collected works. He mentions that he believes the mark to be

intentional, but only provides suggestions for its possible meaning. Material form is treated as an

institutional fetish for the academic scholar to have some physical connection to a William Blake

who has been, otherwise, framed and reframed by the conflict between individual and

disciplinary belief.

The treatment of Blake's death in these more contemporary academic accounts is, likewise,

interested only in the physical body. They also attempt to manage the dispute between

mythological accounts of Blake disappearing gently into the night and the more physical

accounts of Blake dying in horrible pain. Aileen Ward, a proponent of the physical version of

Blake's death, suggests that the poet died of a ruptured gall bladder with peritonitis, an infection

caused by excess bile spilling into the abdomen. She critiques the mystical accounts of Blake's

death for suggesting that Blake could accomplish any work during the last stages of his life (15).

The call for a more complete, biological and medical account of Blake's death by Ward reverses

the desire to see Blake as a mystical figure, and attempts to open the secrets of his body and

reveal them to be simply a set of physical processes. Blake is seen, not as an extraordinary figure

with ties to the supernatural, but as a physical body with processes that match other physical









bodies. This normal individual might have written interesting poems and produced beautiful

prints, but nevertheless was (at his core) a physical body with physical ailments that eventually

brought about Blake's completely physical death.

Lane Robinson and Joseph Viscomi's essay "Blake's Death" uses its diagnosis, sclerosing

cholangitis with periods of remission and relapse, to provide a compromise between Ward's

account and the description of Blake's quiet death provided by Tatham. They reinforce Tatham's

belief in a quiet death, but explain that quiet death in entirely physical terms and consider the

death a physical event. I consider their essay in detail not only because it is a foundational

contemporary text describing the death, but also because the commitment of the authors to the

medical conditions surrounding Blake's demise is, I argue, symptomatic of the treatment of

Blake as a physical and materialist body.

Their essay begins with an epigraph from plate 14 of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

depicting the iconoclastic method Blake used to produce his illuminated books. Blake says "But

first the notion that man has a distinct body from his soul, is to be expunged; this I shall do, by

printing in the infernal method, by corrosives, which in Hell are salutary and medicinal, melting

apparent surfaces away and displaying the infinite which was hid" (qtd. on 36). The epigraph is

ironic on two levels. First, Viscomi and Robinson's account seeks to physicalize Blake's earlier

more spiritual and mystical death scenes. Second, the authors argue that Blake's sclerosing

cholangitis was brought on by chronic copper intoxication caused by years of relief etching in his

print studio. The corrosives, then, literally ate away at Blake's health as they aesthetically

merged his spiritual beliefs with this artistic practice. If the corrosive acids are medicinal, they

are also most certainly harmful. Robinson and Viscomi seek to demystify the mystical accounts

of Blake's death that suggest he was singing hymns when he died and that, as Tatham reports, he









looked more like an angel than a man. The authors see Blake as a demystified body stripped of

spiritual pretensions, and they suggest the proper critical stance is largely clinical and reconciles

all of the extant symptomatological evidence.

Robinson and Viscomi begin their analysis of Blake's illness by noting several features

that are common in individuals who suffer from Irritable Bowel Disease, a chronic autoimmune

condition that can frequently lead to sclerosing cholangitis. Blake is said to have first developed

the symptoms of IBD during his youth, a claim the authors back up with diary entries referring to

the stomach flus he experienced as a young boy. The final stages of his disease, in the

Robinson/Viscomi account, take place about 29 months before his death. During this time,

shivering fits and fevers send Blake into an accelerated pattern of remission and relapse. These

symptoms compare with the development of hemorrhoids caused by many sufferers of billary

cirrhosis, or an untreatable form of gradual liver failure caused by the constriction of blood flow.

Billary cirrhosis is sometimes cited as a complication of sclerosing cholangitis.

These conditions, the authors argue, combine to show a steady pattern of decline for the

last two years of Blake's life. While he was declining, however, Blake would still experience

periods of relative health, explaining the completion of several commissioned works in the years

before his death. The pattern of decline mixed with remission and relapse suggests for Robinson

and Viscomi that Ward's account of pain and Catherine Blake's belief that her husband died an

angel "are probably both correct, though they are of different stages of the illness" (43). The

authors mention that Blake probably developed pulmonary edema, which would leave Blake in a

semi-comotose state for his final two days. The authors explain Blake's physical condition using

Catherine's words and suggest that

it is unlikely that he awoke in his last hours with the energy to color, draw, sing and talk.
Far more likely, he entered "his eternal rest like an infant to its sleep," and while asleep,









experienced "a calm and painless withdrawal of breath." A believable scenario is that
Blake went to sleep, his breathing slowed, an episode of apnea developed, and he never
woke again. Alternately, Blake went to sleep, his breathing slowed, his blood oxygen level
decreased, he experienced a heart attack, and he never woke up. (44)

Robinson and Viscomi treat Blake's body as a physical object and suggest, in purely physical

terms, that Blake could never sing or draw on the day of his death. However their account also

attempts to reconcile the claims that Blake's life reflected his artistic melancholic persona with

those that claim Blake's death to have been a steep descent into deepening pain. The pattern of

relapse and remission caused by IBD allows Blake to experience both periods of pain and

periods of health. And their account allows for a final melancholic irony. What better cause for

Blake's death than the copper fumes arising from corrosive acids that created his illuminated

books and reflected his iconoclastic persona? While Blake's body remains an object of medical

speculation, the body also acts to reflect a Romantic melancholy. Blake never wakes up and

merely sinks into his slowly dying body. While providing a compromise between the depictions

of pain and those of quiet death, Robinson and Viscomi nevertheless see themselves stripping

away the mystical layers of Blake's death and showing us the physicality of Blake's body as it

dies.

The interest in the material properties of Blake's illuminated texts is, thus, reflected in

Robinson and Viscomi's account by an interest in the physical properties of his body. This

physical body is, likewise, seen as a site of reconciliation between Blake's disciplinary identities.

In Robinson and Viscomi, Blake is a poet tied to the iconoclasm of his infernal printing method

and a physical body tied to the medical conditions preceding his death. Describing the minute

physical processes surrounding his death is analogous, here, to Walter Benn Michaels's

argument on the posthistorical attachment to the material text. This interest in a physical Blake









representable by critical discourse is, I argue, symptomatic of an attachment to a body that is

now seen as a space of disciplinary conflict and individual belief.

In this way, Francis Bacon's painting of Blake's life mask should be seen as emblematic of

the pragmatist approach to Blake (Figure 2-1). Bacon created a series of paintings on the mask.

The second version, however, is the most interesting for my purposes. The life mask presents the

head as a curved surface, representing the precise contours of the face and suggesting a lost

physical object. As Lene Ostermark-Johansen has shown, Blake hated the process of making the

mask, as it pulled out several strands of his hair. It is nevertheless still seen as a popular relic of

the dead poet, selling for "the bargain price of a mere 95" at the National Portrait Gallery (157-

62). Nevertheless, Bacon did not have much interest in Blake's visions, nor did he care all that

much about the mask as a relic of a mystical poet. In an interview with Michael Archimbaud,

Bacon says that he "loathes the mystical side of him [Blake]" and that the painting "wasn't a

homage to the work of Blake, because his work doesn't really mean anything to me at all" (121).

Bacon saw in Blake's features a physical body, a pure physical surface. He created at least five

different paintings of the life mask, each representing the mask from a different perspective, yet

he also took pains to flatten the mask's features. Strokes of Bacon's brush combine with the eyes

and the nose (which are positioned lower on the painting than on the mask) to pull the eye

downward, flattening the surface and transforming it into a smooth piece of flesh incapable of

housing a person we might call Blake. This flattening of Blake's image caused Gilles Deleuze to

remark that Bacon's Blake is "not a death mask, it is a block of firm flesh that has been separated

from the bone" (18). In a similar tone, Michael Peppiatt comments that the paintings of Blake's

head "float against the void like unearthly sculptures, impalpable yet expressive of a force as

concentrated as a clenched fist" (165). The relic-like properties of Blake's life mask, so









important to customers who buy it at the National Portrait Gallery, are erased entirely in Bacon's

treatment of the mask. All that remains, in this sense, is the firm flesh stripped from the bone and

a force that has little to do with either William Blake's life or his death. This force lies in a blunt,

white physicality that contrasts forcefully with the dark void behind the mask. Blake's character

is distilled from the mask, and all that remains is unearthly flesh, force, and a painted slab of

physicality that ceases to be, represent or, signify Blake.

The death mask allegorizes the physical and material Blake as a mined relic of a literary

past that has lost its relevance. These relics maintain a physical, if empty, connection with the

past. They become like Bacon's rendering of Blake's flesh: a pure physical trace suggesting

nothing but individual inflection. Blake's death, for his first obituaries, signified the mysticism

that made him into a figure for mythology and poetic revelation. This mysticism is translated, by

a culture more interested in the impact of Blake's persona on more contemporary disciplinary

issues, into an issue of access and availability.

The physical properties of Blake's body and Blake's texts signify a fading material

connection with a literary past that must be balanced with the political concerns of identity

politics. The discourse of balance celebrates Blake's many deaths as proof of his continuing

relevance as a poet of multiplicity and iconoclasm, one whose attention to political radicalism

matches-more or less-the political positions of the contemporary English Department. Blake's

death is proof, then, not of his exemplary status as a singular individual with links to the

theoretical insights of more contemporary thinkers, but of the ease with which identity politics

appropriates the Blakean multitude for their concerns. These deaths are numbered by the

disciplinary identities Blake is made to inhabit. For nineteenth-century writers, Blake's death

marks his ascendancy into relevance by crafting a discourse of eccentricity. For more recent









academic writers, death becomes another opportunity to prove disciplinary relevance by

managing the past. Blake's death is seen as a discourse of ruin and death made applicable to

contemporary life by making the body available to anyone who can use it to occupy a sanctioned

identity position. I now suggest that this image of a managerial Blake can be applied to a reading

of William Blake's death in Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's From Hell, where the poet is

made into a symbol of a mystical past that must be disciplined before it gives in to its more

enthusiastic and violent tendencies.

Serial Blake

Alan Moore, who decries the managerial culture of the modem office space in From Hell

as lifeless, likewise figures mysticism and literature around death.8 Literary symbolism is linked

to mysticism and characterized in the comic as an older and almost extinct mode of knowledge,

differing from those practiced by the medical establishment and the news media. Yet it is only in

the past, and with the dead, that mysticism can stage a resistance to the spectacle of murder

conjured by the serial killer. Blake is already dead when William Gull, the alter ego of Jack the

Ripper in Moore and Campbell's comic, appears to him in a vision. The Whitechapel murders

occur more than 60 years after the end of Blake's life. Furthermore, the few literary figures who

do appear in From Hell are always accompanied by the foreshadowing of their deaths. While

Moore and Campbell seem to valorize Blake and his ties to mysticism and literature, the literary

is still seen as contributing a weak resistance to the media juggernaut born during the Ripper

murders.




1I refer to the 2000 collected edition of From Hell in this chapter. From Hell has a complicated publishing history
due to its appearance in several now defunct publishing houses. The first publication of the story in a serial comic
did not contain either the footnotes or the coda that are central to my argument. For a detailed account of From
Hell's publishing history, see Eddie Campbell's "Comics on the Main Street of Culture."









William Blake, in From Hell, presents a world of mystical depth that is unavailable to

media depictions of the dead body. As I argued in "Panelling Parallax: The Fearful Symmetry of

William Blake and Alan Moore," Moore appeals to Blake's uncompromising spirit as a

counterpoint to the contemporary ubiquity of mass media. Blake symbolizes a mystical

connection to depth that has otherwise been drowned out by spectacle. In the essay, I argued that

Moore adapts Blake's concept of "fearful symmetry" in Watchmen (1987) to comment on the

postmodern desire for a deep meaning underlying seemingly chaotic events. That deep meaning,

I attempted to show, existed only on the most superficial of levels: the purely formal layout of

comic panels arranged by Moore and Gibbons in a symmetrical pattern. Moore uses Blake to

show the vacillation between the desire for deep meaning and the possibility that the only answer

for such a desire is on a formal surface forever obscured to those characters inhabiting the

comic's diegetic space.

Blake's status as a literary figure implicates him in Moore's explorations of depth and

close reading. In this section, I argue that From Hell depicts Blake after death to mourn the death

of literature as a genre of depth. From Hell characterizes Blake as part of a mystical tradition

whose cultural importance is being slowly displaced by the newspaper scandal of the Ripper

murders. The comic charts the transformation of the dead into a symbol of the state and an image

exploited by the mass media. My analysis demonstrates the comic's preoccupation with a literary

tradition by focusing on its interest on a mystical past where meaning is seen as accessible

through the use of symbols. Moore's tale depicts the loss of the literary and the triumph of New

Media and the annihilation of mystic meaning in favor of spectacle.

Alan Moore is widely known for his interest in combining literature with the comic book

genre, and giving the latter the cultural importance of the former. As he commented in a 1988









interview with Vincent Eno and El Csawza, Watchmen was an attempt to create "a superhero

Moby Dick; something that had that sort of weight, that sort of density." Literature is seen, here,

giving the flimsy comic book more sturdiness and more cultural weight. Vfor Vendetta (1982)

appeals to literature as a politically radical alternative to the oppression of a fascist government

that rose to power in England after a small nuclear exchange. The literary provides not only a

reminder of a democratic past, but enables the anarchic characters in the novel to retain portions

of their humanity. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2002) includes characters from

nineteenth-century British adventure novels including: Alan Quartermain, the Invisible Man,

Captain Nemo, Mina Harker from Dracula, and Mr. Hyde. Literary settings and events are

reinterpreted to show the politics of imperialist Britain. For example, the mysterious bacterial

infection that stopped the Martians from invading in the climax to H.G. Wells's novel The War

of the Worlds (1898) is explained in the second volume of League as a biological weapon

designed by Dr. Moreau (another Wells character) and deployed in South London. The

government is shown caring little for the thousands of poor people eliminated with the biological

agent, and the League dissolves in the controversy. Literature provides Moore with a palate for

his serial stories, yet his comics also reveal an anxiety surrounding their status as a literary

form.9

The category of literature is particularly important to From Hell, a comic that uses literary

allusion, quotation, and history to argue for the literary possibilities of the comic book. The

footnotes, in particular, reveal Moore's struggle with historical verisimilitude and realism. He

admits as much in an interview with Dave Sim in which he calls the footnotes and their self-

deprecating tone "a gruff apology for having done such a fucking sloppy and unprofessional job.

9 See Josh Heuman and Richard Burt's "Suggested for Mature Readers?: Deconstructing Shakespearean Value in
Comic Books" for a discussion of a similar anxiety over the sophistication of comic books.









[...] And the fact that something hasn't been done in comics before is really no excuse for doing

a sloppy job" (310). The footnotes act as commentary on Moore's anxiety over accuracy and

chart his struggle to construct a realist literary epic. These anxieties over literary reputability are

hardly Moore's alone. Comics are seen as a marginalized form, a reality that is reflected in many

academic accounts of comic books arguing for their status as acceptable objects for literary

criticism. 10 Charles Hatfield's Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature appeals to the

countercultural roots of independent and alternative comics as evidence of their literary appeal.

Rocco Versaci's This Book Contains Graphic Language. Comics as Literature has an entire

chapter, subtitled "Comics vs. 'Real' Literature," focusing on the way comics transform the

category of literature by causing readers to "look beyond labels," while reinforcing the definition

of literature as embodying "art that brings new understanding and insight" (189). The apologetic

tone of Moore, Hatfield, and Versaci suggest that-for comic books-literature is the standard

by which comics aspire to gain acceptance, yet literature is also what must be surpassed in order

for comics to be considered a worthy object of analysis.

From Hell's depiction of the dead articulates this literary complex by aligning literature

with a mystic past figured as an unreachable ideal, which is nevertheless being devoured by the

emerging technologies of mass media. The figure of the dead body in the comic serves to




10 See Donald Ault's "In the Trenches, Taking the Heat: Confessions of a Comics Professor," for a personal history
of the difficulties incorporating comic studies into English curriculum. See especially, his conjunction of Carl Barks
and William Blake in teach-ins at Bearkley in the late 60s:

Voluntary 'teach-ins' by faculty had become a staple of campus life, and there was a great demand for me
to lead sessions on William Blake, who was predictably seen as a prophet of radical political activism,
mystical vision, and psychedelic consciousness (rumor had it that Blake's body automatically produced
LSD). It was in the context of this social turbulence when normal academic activities began to break down
that I seized the opportunity and began to incorporate Donald Duck comics (which I considered to be every
bit as radical as Blake's works) into my teach-ins. (242)









allegorize the place of literature and mysticism both as sources of mystery and objects of trash.

From Hell's beginning and ending scenes, which focus on the carcass of a dead bird, suggest a

vacillation between mystical veneration and spectacle. In the prologue, the dead bird occupies

the entire first panel. Its shape sprawls across the width of the page (Figure 2-1).



it "I '. -'






















Figure 2-1. The dead bird (Pro: 1). From Hell Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell. Reprinted with
permission.

Artist Eddie Campbell's harsh and rough realism reveals even the most minute of details:

the bones edging ever so slightly from the bird's breast, the open mouth welcoming the many

flies and organisms feeding off its corpse, and the limp leg and wings curling ever so slightly and

withering in the sun. Its form encompasses the foreground for most of the first page, acting as the

audience's perspective, when two of the principal investigators of the Ripper murders-Inspector

Abberline and Mr. Lees-approach from the background. The dead bird centers the audience's

point of view in the first scene. From its place in the first several panels, close to the audience in









the extreme foreground of the images, the dead bird is central in forming our first impressions of

a world in which the events encompassing the Ripper murders take place.

But it is also clear that the dead bird is completely accidental to the comic's narrative.

Abberline only half consciously picks at the bird's carcass as he talks to Lees. He uses his cane

to briefly pick at the dead body, then, to shove it aside as the two men continue on their walk.

The carcass disappears entirely by the second page. Although we are made to identify

completely with the bird on the first page, we see the wounds of its decomposition and can

imagine being made uncomfortable by the stench and the stillness of the dead body. Campbell

and Moore quickly move us from this image by treating the dead bird as trash to be thrown to the

side and quickly forgotten. Once the panel penetrates the dead bird, and reveals that there is

nothing to fascinate besides the revulsion tied to viewing dead bodies, the dead bird disappears

completely. In this way, the dead bird sets up a tension that is carried throughout the comic and

is tied to a fundamental shift in the attitude toward the dead. The dead are objects of mystical

veneration in the eyes of characters like William Gull. To the majority of the characters,

however, the dead act merely as inert objects tied to murder and spectacle. The dead body, as a

locus of spectacle, loses its ties to the deep meaning of the mystic and is, instead, opened

completely to reveal its now superficial recesses.

The dead bird shows up two other times in From Hell. The first is tied to William Gull's

initiation ceremony in the second chapter. As Gull kneels to be sworn into the brotherhood, he

states that, should he ever reveal the secrets of the Freemasons, his penalty would be "that my

throat be cut across, my tongue torn out by the root, and that I be buried in sand a cable's length

from the shore where the tide regularly flows twice in twenty four hours" (2:9).11 Moore and


" Parenthetical citations to From Hell refer to chapter and page number respectively. This reflects the first collected
edition's method of dividing the numbering among issues of the comic. If the reference is a footnote, I use the









Campbell then cut to the beach scene in the beginning, with the mangled bird carcass in the

foreground and the aging Abberline and Lees fading into the background. The tide is about to

come in, presumably to take away the dead bird into the sea. The epilogue portrays the bird once

more, this time in a scene occurring directly before the image Gull has in his vision. As

Abberline looks away, Lees picks up the dead bird, quickly inspects it, and then drops it onto the

beach. The final shot shows the dead bird on the beach at dusk, its open mouth facing the

ground, its decomposing wing jutting to the top of the panel, and its guts exposed to the night sky

(Figure 2-2).














Figure 2-2. Dead Again (Ep: 10). From Hell Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell. Reprinted with
permission.

Why William Gull sees a scene occurring after the final panel thirty years before the events

occurring in the epilogue is not clear. Does he have a unique power to see the future, or does the

dead bird exist as Gull's double? This question is not answered by the text. Yet the way Moore's

comic links the dead body to both interpretive frames-that of a mystical or aesthetic object

being closely inspected as meaningful and that of a piece of trash thrown to the side of the

frame-suggests that the survival of the mystical tradition is tied to the veneration of objects as

aesthetic or literary, and not the treatment of the dead corpse as a spectacle.

abbreviation "Appl" to refer to appendix 1. If the reference is either the prologue or the epilogue, I use the
abbreviations "Pro" and "Ep" respectively.









Alan Moore treats his massive meditation on the Ripper murders as an autopsy. He

fantasizes on the back cover about "cutting into and examining the still-warm corpse of history

itself." And, on the epigraph page of the prologue, he links autopsy to the "[d]issection and

examination of a dead body to determine the cause of death," "[a]n eye witness observation,"

and "[a]ny critical analysis." He notes, perhaps more provocatively, that autopsy comes "from

the Greek autos, self+opsis, sight," suggesting autopsy to be "the act of seeing with one's own

eyes." Embodied in Moore's autopsy meditation is a larger discourse spanning vision,

mutilation, and the use of the dead body in constructing knowledge of the past. Barish Ali

suggests as much when he argues that the word autopsy connects the Ripper slaying to the

larger and perhaps more culturally acceptable world where authors and critics alike do violence

by dissecting history (613-14). Moore's story suggests a haunted relationship between the writer

and the murderer: by entering the discourse of history, both do damage to the body and

consequently the lives of their subjects. Further, by connecting the killer with the writer, Moore

suggests that it is the autopsy and the analysis (or even more starkly writing itself) that

constitutes death as an event.

As writing constitutes death, the act of analysis in From Hell kills and dismembers the

literary author. Literary figures in the text are portrayed as ruined; their bodies literally become

ruins. Blake's appearances occur only at his graveside or in hallucinatory visions about the past.

The literary figure is made, in Moore and Campbell's narrative, into a dead figure who is seen in

mystical visions. W. B. Yeats's appearance is also tied to his death, although this death occurs

several years after the events of the comic. In issue 9, William Gull chides Yeats and his Order

of the Golden Dawn during a visit at the British Library, where the poet was studying Blake.









Gull tells Yeats that his bones "shall never rest easy" (9:15). In a footnote, Moore suggests that

Gull's words are prophetic:

Yeats died in France and was interred at an ossuary, where his bones are stored according
to the type of bone in question rather than according to whom they originally belonged to,
so that there will be a room of skulls, a room of femurs and so on. Imagine the
embarrassment of the French authorities, then, when Yeats's family requested that his
remains be returned to Ireland, the land of his birth. A skeleton was hurredly assembled
and shipped to Ireland for burial with honors, but it was, in all likelihood, a frankensteinian
effort composed from a dozen separate donors. (Appl:31)

The encounter with Gull foreshadows Yeats's literal dismemberment. His body is torn apart,

analyzed and catalogued for the purpose of study. This footnote underscores the status of the

literary in Moore and Campbell's comic. Literature is held together by veneration: a knowledge

that respects the unity and mystery of its object. Spectacle tears the body apart; it studies distinct

portions and discards the rest.

The representation of William Blake in Moore's text underscores the competition between

veneration and spectacle. In From Hell, Blake is treated as a symbol of an older way of thinking,

one that prizes vision above logic and imagination above reason. Blake is first mentioned in the

fourth chapter of From Hell, when William Gull, and his driver Netley, tour London

architectural sites. Gull mentions that Blake saw visions of Old Testament prophets. Netley

responds that such experiences "sound [...] barny" (4:11). To which Gull responds:

Possibly. And yet, as Alexander Gilchrist, Blake's biographer, suggests, 'Tis but
comparatively recently that seeing visions would call into question a person's sanity. [...]
In Gilchrist's words, Blake spiritually belonged to earlier ages of the world, since when, as
Hazlitt has remarked, 'the heavens have done further off.' Our lunatics were prophets once,
and had a prophet power. Never forget that, Netley. (4:11)

Blake belongs to a past whose values and power have faded and acts, in this scene, as a figure of

mourning and a symbol of what had once been possible. He represents a mystical golden age,

where symbols and language were not necessary to elevate the individual to an ecstatic or

mystical state. Gull places emphasis on the directness of the mystical experience in ages past. He









notes that Roman diaries contained frequent references to visionary experiences. Charges

surrounding Blake's lunacy only act as evidence that he serves as a transitionary figure in Gull's

history. Belonging to a world that has now passed into oblivion, Blake is treated as insane.

Blake's status as a figure of mourning is reinforced on the next page, where Gull shows

Netley Blake's grave in Bunhill Fields. Gull points out the irony that Blake, a druid who was

known for his hatred of the sun, is placed next to the grave of Daniel Defoe whose memorial

includes an obelisk that is "styled upon stones consecrated to the Sun God Atum, raised at

Heliopolis in ancient Egypt" (4:12). He cackles at the fact that Defoe's grave casts a shadow on

Blake's at dusk, suggesting that the shadow of the sun will forever chain the poet's insanity to

the gravestone.

Gull's suggestion here implicates Blake in a larger occult history surrounding the struggle

between imagination and reason. In an earlier portion of the chapter, Gull argues that the earliest

symbols were used by men to understand the mysteries of birth, and consequently to rebel

against matriarchal forms of rule. The origin of written language, for Gull, sought to use reason

for enlightenment rather than dwell on the mysteries of life. The creation of the symbol

appropriates the remains of the dead to control and discipline the living. Gull mentions the

transformation of the Goddess Tiamat from a mere chimera into a demon, and the replacement of

the Goddess Diana with the masculine deity Herne. Symbols empowered magicians to restrict

the mysteries of women, signify their power with reason, and replace their deities with masculine

Gods of the sun.

The politics surrounding the dead William Blake works in much the same manner. The act

of being eclipsed by Defoe's grave both chains Blake's mysterious power to the earth and

symbolizes him in order to be placed into a narrative of the past. Moore's footnotes exacerbate









this process by explaining visionary experiences with history and biology. Citing Roman military

logs, Moore recounts a story where a column of troops follow the god Pan across a river that was

earlier seen by the group to be too deep to cross. Moore suggests that such a vision was the effect

of a brain whose corpus callosum ("the strand of neural gristle that connects the twin lobes of the

brain") was not as developed as it is today (Appl:12). The vision of Pan is explained away by

Moore as an unconscious projection of a mind that was too primitive to work out the crossing of

a river without plugging in ancient deities. As an explanatory device, Moore's footnotes place

Blake firmly into the past and suggest a physiological source for the visionary experiences he

recounts in his poetry:

Since from all available evidence it would appear that such visions were more common in
ancient times than they are today, it seemed fitting that I should connect this with
Gilchrist's comments that Blake saw visions because he "spiritually belonged to [an]
earlier age of the world," the implication being that those we call prophets or visionaries
simply have a different relationship with their subconscious mind to that enjoyed by the
great majority. (App 1:12)

It would seem odd that Alan Moore, a self-described magician, would go to such lengths to place

Blake's visions in a medical context. Yet the work performed by From Hell to understand

Blake's mysticism is hardly different from the transformation of the memory of literary figures

into symbols that can be appropriated into a larger historical narrative of domination. Much like

the dead bird at the beginning, Blake's memory is appropriated by the comic as a site of

extraction: his poems are used as archival evidence of a different way of looking at the world.

Blake's memory is also tied to the replacement of mystical sympathy with historical realism.

Since Moore places Blake's mysticism in the past, Moore can distance himself from a deep

connection with Blake's insanity while at the same time claiming to adopt a realist understanding

of the world.









Moore is involved in a series of intellectual dances that at one point move closer to a

communion with the dead, and at another point move away from the dead. In the issue where

Gull kills and mutilates Marie Kelly, Moore spends 34 pages investigating every detail. We are

shown Gull's mutilation of the victim's face, his deep cuts made to her abdomen, the extraction

of bodily organs, and the scalding of her heart in the fireside kettle. Gull takes the burnt heart,

crushes it in his handkerchief, and scatters the ashes to the winds. On two facing pages, Gull's

murderous reverie is focalized on the smallest details of the victim's body. Campbell's sketchy

style is replaced with clear lines and dark contrasts suggesting photorealistic microscopic shots

of the body. His illustrations zoom in on Gull's knife as it cuts into the victim's corpse, focusing

first on the knife, then on the bit of flesh being cut by the knife, then on the blood vessels on the

side of the flesh, and then into the structures of these blood vessels (Figure 2-3).













Figure 2-3. Cutting into the Sublime. (10:11). From Hell Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell.
Reprinted with permission.

Finally, Campbell shows us the inside of one of the blood vessels as a huge underground

cavern, blood settled at the bottom (Figure 2-4). The close-ups of the organs in these panels are

so extreme that they seem to become geological spaces. The intensity of seeing the body reveal

its secrets leads only to further secrets, suggesting that the serial killer cuts into what could be

called the "arterial sublime." The body, in the hands of the visionary killer, becomes pure









physicality. Campbell's close ups then proceed to the blood itself, then cuts to a close up of

Gull's eye and back to Gull standing in front of his mutilated corpse.























Figure 2-4. The Body as Cavern (10:12). From Hell Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell.
Reprinted with permission.

Lisa Coppin has suggested that these scenes pull Gull optically into the uncanny nature of vision

by overloading the eye with an "excess of information." The intensity of Gull's dissections, in

other words, leads both the reader and the killer into the same uncanny experience where seeing

visions of the future and the past is possible. While Moore seems interested in using the body as

a nexus of sublimity and the uncanny, he also backs away from the very visions he depicts. In a

footnote to the final murder scene, Moore cites Stan Brakhage's short movie The Act of Seeing

ii ith One 's Own Eyes-a particularly graphic film detailing three autopsies. Moore notes that

seeing Brakhage's film produces an initial revulsion that "soon gave way to a kind of fascinated

awe at the magnificence and intricacy of our inner workings" (Appl:35). Moore's viewing of the

film translates the body into a site for revelation, a space where revulsion opens up to the









visionary state of awe. Yet when discussing his theory that Gull was motivated by a similar awe

of the body when dissecting his victims, Moore pulls away from identifying too closely with the

murderer. He suggests, quite rightly, that no one can really know what happened in the room

during the murder of Marie Kelly but that:

it seems to me that, at least on the level of the killer's emotional reality, some kind of an
Apocalypse transpired. Human experience went to the very edge, there in that sordid little
flat, then stepped beyond. The depiction here is as close as I can get to the portrayal of
what might have happened on that night. In that room. In that mind. To be absolutely
honest, it's as close as I want to get. (App :35)

Depth and intimacy figure here as limit points for what Moore calls "human experience." On the

one hand, depth can transform the shape of human experience by overloading the senses. On the

other hand, too much depth can lead to apocalypse, annihilation, insanity, and perhaps even

death itself. It is Gull's pursuit of depth that leads him to murder and dissect his victims. Autopsy

and analysis lead to sublimity, for Moore and Campbell, but might also lead to murder.

Moore distances himself from death and the more terrifying aspects of mystical depth by

medicalizing Blake's visionary experiences and by separating himself off from the apocalypse

occurring in Marie Kelly's bedroom. Moore wants neither the mystical insanity of William Gull

nor the soulless rationalism of the twentieth century. During his mutilation of the final victim,

Gull is transported to the contemporary office building. He sees disinterested workers plodding

away at their computers. He calls the sight "dazzle, but not yet divinity," suggesting that

modernity is "an apocalypse of cockatoos [...] Morose, barbaric children playing joylessly with

their unfathomable toys" (10:21). He then turns and embraces the mutilated body of his final

victim. Gull suggests that he saved the body from annihilation: "I have made you safe from time

and we are wed in legend, inextricable within eternity" (10:21). In this moment, it becomes clear

that Moore at least half-identifies with both Blake and Gull, without identifying too closely with

either of them. The office building, with its emphasis on the management of the workday and the









alienation of lifeless employees, is seen as the alternative to Gull and Blake's connection with

tradition and meaning.

Moore's difficulty in completely identifying with either Blake or Gull stems from a

common problem plaguing the profiling of serial killers and their crimes. I'd like to take a short

detour through the relationship between Blake and the serial killer before showing how this

relationship impacts From Hell. As Mark Seltzer argues, the emergence of the serial killer

parallels the domination of modern forms of identification and the rise of the mass media in the

late nineteenth century. The serial killer is the product of the pathologization of murder, the

historical shift from considering killing an act to attempting to understand the essential

characteristics that make up the killer. Seltzer sees the serial killer as a subject "flooded by the

social and its collective fantasies," as copycats evacuated of interiority and made to become that

which they perceive (128). Popular representations of serial killing characterize profilers, on the

other hand, as those who empathize with killers and are consequently in danger of becoming

killers themselves.

Brett Ratner's movie version of Thomas Harris's Red Dragon (2002), for example,

features Edward Norton playing Will Graham, an FBI agent working to arrest Francis

Dolorhyde. Dolorhyde is a serial killer who has tattooed a portion of William Blake's The Great

RedDragon and the Woman Clothed i hi the Sun on his back and believes that he is slowly

becoming the dragon. Graham, meanwhile, is portrayed using intuition to track his killer. He

visits the local University library where he views a copy of Blake's illuminated poetry to study

up. The literary mystic who closely identifies with the characters in Blake's poetry is set against

the literary forensic who must track the killer using Blake's artifacts. Graham also visits

Hannibal Lecter: a fellow serial killer who enjoys psychologically tormenting profilers who









come to him asking for advice. The scenes with Graham and Lecter revolve around their

similarities. Lecter is a killer, but he is also a former physician and an intellectual on par with

Graham. The profiler and the psychotic are doubles, separated only by the latter's penchant for

killing. The danger that the profiler could become the serial killer is always acute, with Graham

consistently attempting to place boundaries between himself and Lecter. In the novel version of

Harris's Hannibal (2000), that distinction is severed completely as Clarice Starling (Graham's

replacement) is shown being seduced, brainwashed, and made into a cannibal by Lecter. The

novel ends with Starling leaving the FBI and following Lecter around the world. Harris's novels

and films portray the serial killer as a figure who threatens to possess the innocent public with

murderous desires. Could it be that, for Moore, merely displaying the inner apocalypses of

William Gull and the prophetic visions of William Blake could cause the comic book author to

become a mystic and a killer?

A chain of referents contests the distinction between serial killing and Blake, threatening to

collapse one in on the other. Academics and comic artists alike attempt to reinscribe and manage

those distinctions, feeling a similar threat: to align Blake with the serial killer would truly unveil

literary mysticism as a discourse leading potentially to murder. Jason Whittaker, for instance,

suggests that Gull seeks Blake as a "druidic master," and that his murders are a horrible

misinterpretation of Blake's true visionary power (202-3). Seltzer, himself, points out several

instances of Blake's appearance in serial killer narratives, among them the Harris novels and Jim

Jarmusch's DeadMan (1995), but does not note their consequence to our understanding of

mystical revelation and its ties to literature and the mass media. He recounts an episode in which

Robert Ressler, the FBI agent who coined the term "serial killer" and who is the archetype for

Harris's profiler in The Silence of the Lambs, writes a non-fiction book on the development of









the FBI's Behavior Science Unit (BSU). The frontispiece of Ressler's book reproduces Blake's

Red Dragon print. William Blake's place in this anecdote is telling. The Romantic poet, filled

with visions of another world, serves not only as a template for the serial killer, but also the

poet's artwork is made emblematic for serial killing in general.

Dead Man, likewise, uses Blake as a template for serial killing. In the film, a Cleveland

banker named William Blake becomes a serial killer after meeting a Native American who

believes he is the reincarnation of the British poet and prophesizes that his new poetry will

consist in the killing of Europeans. William Blake, in Jarmusch's film, is played by Johnny Depp

who acts in a number of roles as the typical Romantic author flirting with annihilation. In Don

Juan DeMarco (1995), Depp plays the titular character of Byron's narrative poem. The Libertine

(2004), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), and Sweeney Todd (2007) all feature Depp as

either an iconoclastic writer verging on insanity and drug addiction or as a serial killer. And, in

the film version of Moore and Campbell's From Hell (2001), Depp stars as Inspector Abberline.

Depp's From Hell, however, transforms Abberline from the fat, working class, and mostly

inept character in Moore's comic into a slim, sexy, psychic detective who achieves visions with

the help of laudanum. Depp's character matches the grim world of Gull's insanity with his own

opium-induced explorations of the borders of consciousness. Abberline dies soon after the last

murder from a drug overdose, an event that reflects neither the Moore and Campbell's comic nor

the historical reality of Abberline's life. While references to William Blake are removed entirely

from the film version of From Hell and replaced with half-hearted allusions to Shakespeare,

Depp's performance retains a trace of the interconnections between the Romantic poet, Blake,

and the serial killer that suggests all are copycats of one another. 12


12 Tom Cohen makes a distinction between the detective and the serial killer when he analyzes the film From Hell's
citation of Hitchcocks's The Lodger (1927). In the epilogue to the first volume of Hitchcock's Cryptonomies, Cohen









Perhaps this is what lies behind Moore's reluctance to fully embrace either the mystic

Blake or the serial killer. The discourse of symbolism and imagination has been so thoroughly

pathologized in the discourse surrounding the serial killer that it threatens to turn the good mystic

poet, William Blake, into the bad ritualistic killer William Gull. The threat of possession by the

serial killer characterizes the final confrontation between Blake and Gull and also forces Moore

and Campbell to distinguish between Blake and Gull. They do so by putting Blake in the role of

a police detective, who can stop Gull from infecting the twentieth century with his madness.

From Hell's fourteenth chapter, titled "Gull ascending," chronicles the serial killer's

dissemination into the fabric of the twentieth century. Moore's overarching thesis in From Hell

theorizes the Ripper murders as giving birth to the twentieth century: in terms of its fascination

with murder and genocide, the rise of the serial killer as celebrity, and the spread of media

technologies to document every facet of the public fascination with murder. In one scene, Gull is

shown possessing a rain of blood that plagued Mediterranean fishing boats in the summer of

1888, the same summer as the murders. While falling on the astonished fishers, Gull muses on a

poem read to him by his father when he was young. After laboring for years, God showed a

dying scientist his final reward: "[t]he universe and all of space and time were his laboratory,

wherein to be about his work, his measurements and tests" (14:7). Gull, who is made

omnipresent by his murders that are seen as a sacrifice to the Freemason God, is given all of

space and time and becomes "an invisible curve, rising through the centuries" (14:9).

Gull materializes only to certain people in the final chapter. Netley, for instance, sees

Gull's face in 1903 before dying at the Clarence Gate of Regent's Park. Robert Louis Stevenson

identifies the doubling occurring between the mutilation of the Ripper victims and their dehumanization by cinema
and photography in the 20th century. He suggests that there are two sides to cinema: one that serves the state by
creating technologies of identification and one which shifts to alternative modes of sensing and being. The visionary
aspects of cinema are distinguished from those that identify, catalogue and chart the body. Yet, Cohen also finds
Depp's Abberline the nexus of these two cinemas: as a detective who is addicted to his cinematic visions.









sees Gull in a nightmare that inspired the writing of The Strange Case ofDr. Jekyll andMr.

Hyde (1886). Ian Brady, the Scottish serial killer responsible for the Moors Murders of the 60s,

is shown seeing Gull's head as a child. While Gull is invisible to most of the public, he is visible

to those who can perceive the invisible: the artist and the killer. Gull appears to Blake twice in

the chapter. The first time, Blake is shown in his Lambeth home while Moore and Campbell

depict Gull's hands growing scaly-like a lizard or a dragon. Gull is astonished by the fact that

Blake can see him. But, after Blake notices Gull's hands, he exclaims, "Am I now but a thing of

mind, and coloured by the minds that view me?" (14:10). His interiority vanishes completely.

Gull embodies the perceptions of others and is made "wholly concept" (14:10). The serial killer

abandons all interiority and is given over to a ghostly exteriority.

The second time Blake sees Gull occurs soon after, during a visit by John Varley. Blake

recounts his earlier experiences, notices Gull, and decides to draw his form. The sketch,

according to Moore, becomes Blake's famous Ghost of a Flea. Eddie Campbell reproduces

Blake's painting in minute detail (Figure 2-5).












Figure 2-5. Eddie Campbell's Ghost of a Flea (14:17). From Hell Alan Moore & Eddie
Campbell. Reprinted with permission.

Both Blake and gull use a discourse of capture when discussing Blake's visionary representation

of the serial killer as a flea. Blake says "Almost. I think I almost have him" (14:16). And Gull

replies in his ghostly monologue, "[i]t is a marvel. Beyond death he has caught me to the life.









Caught me red-handed in the fourfold city. I am movement in the paint-plump brush, an agitation

in the squeaking pen" (14:17). By placing the discourse surrounding representation and vision

into the larger language that focuses on capturing, having, and catching, Moore and Campbell

figure Blake as Gull's afterlife profiler. They reinscribe the difference between the good mystic

(Blake) and the bad mystic (Gull). The good mystic provides Moore and Campbell an access to

meaning, visions, and art. The bad mystic infects the world with murderous thoughts and

searches for the sublime in the death of victims. Blake's work, as the product of the good mystic,

becomes the disciplinary tool to catch and reveal the monstrosity of the serial killer. Just as

Eddie Campbell has "captured" Blake's painting reproducing it almost exactly (albeit in black

and white), Blake has used his visionary capabilities to incarcerate Gull in his visionary work.

Blake, mocked by Gull as "England's greatest holy Fool," is made to displace the anxiety over

the murderous possibilities of Gull's mysticism by capturing and identifying the bad mystic.

Blake's literary persona ends up managing the boundary between the good mystical poet

and the bad mystical killer. Blake is made to control the murderous subject by identifying Gull

and sketching a visionary picture of the killer's face. The mystical literary tradition embodied by

Blake in Moore and Campbell's comic is valorized above both the soulless tradition of spectacle

and the dark personality of the serial killer. Literature shifts with Blake in Moore's comic from

being a discourse associated with a mystical meaning to one almost in league with the serial

killer to a power capable of containing and managing Gull's more radical, magical purposes.

Despite Moore's anger toward media spectacle and the management of the office building, he

ends up using William Blake to capture Gull's ghost and keep the enthusiasm of the bad mystic

from infecting the twentieth century. In the hands of Alan Moore, the mystic is made into the









manager, and Blake polices the boundaries between the mysticism associated with artistic

invention and the mysticism associated with serial killing.

Spectacular Death

I have argued that Blake's death has fixed the poet in a discourse of management: between

the conflicting disciplines of the English Department and between the poetry of the good mystic

and the serial killing of the bad mystic. For Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, Blake polices a

boundary between the close reading of mystical symbols and media spectacle. Academic

scholars, however, have also used William Blake's work to create a pathway for the acceptance

of New Media in English Departments and have suggested that close reading is enabled by the

electronic dissemination of texts. In what follows, I would like to see how New Media critics

attend to the material characteristics of Blake's texts and what it means for the disciplinary

subjectivity of William Blake. The online William Blake Archive creates a media driven space

for the close reading of Blake's illuminated manuscripts. N. Katherine Hayles notes that the

attention to each copy and its material particularities simulates the experience of going to

numerous libraries across the globe and viewing the originals (264). William Blake, with the

help of the Archive, can be made more popular than ever before, and critics are now able to read

his texts with unprecedented levels of access and accuracy.

But what does close reading mean in this context? And, perhaps more importantly, what is

the object of close reading? Hayles suggests that the Archive's very existence dramatically

transforms the notion of what constitutes the material text into a medium specific enterprise.

What determines a "close reading" now changes based on the medium we use to view the literary

object. Yet other scholars aren't so sure. J. Hillis-Miller ends his essay on "Digital Blake" with

ambivalence. He suggests that Blake's belief in the power of poetry cannot be detached from the

material texts that embody his prophecies; yet he also argues that the digitalization of Blake's









work embodies what he-after Werner Hamacher and Walter Benjamin-call "pure mediacy."

Blake's mediacy, for Miller, extends the power of his work beyond its manifestation in the

medium of the illuminated manuscript and even beyond the performativee ego of the poet."

The question of the literary archive, according to Miller, is a question of death. And it is in

this sense of the death of Blake that we should consider the preservation of his work. It would

not be hard to extend Miller's "Digital Blake" and imagine the digitalization of the Blakean body

in some strange science fiction future: every inch of his fact catalogued: his brain weighed, his

relative blood pressure recorded, and his weight and height documented. Blake could, perhaps,

be manifested in flesh simulated to match his skin tone, with eyes that held his visions, and a

mouth that would utter them. Even recreating Blake in this way would be, in Hayles's terms, a

translation and an interruption. What would we be digitalizing or archiving but pure mediacy?

What mined rough beast would materialize in front of us?

Miller's and Hayles's emphasis on mediacy could perhaps be better stated, or translated, as

management. As the identity of William Blake becomes disciplinary, his materiality refers to that

blank space upon which academics can project their ideological fantasies and anxieties. These

fantasies in Blake criticism are often interdisciplinary in nature, focusing on Blake's relevance to

the schools of thought that appropriate them for their ends. If digitalizing Blake could reproduce

him in front of us as a physical being, would it be long before multiple Blakes are born: one for a

march on Washington in favor of gay marriage, another to conduct psychological assessments in

a clinical practice, and yet another to unionize graduate students? Literature and mass media, in

this example, combine to create a circuit of mourning and exhilaration that manage academic

thought and action. The machine can create a William Blake for everyone, but the content of

these Blakes are still mediated by the memory of a single figure named William Blake and the









subjectivities articulated to the academic by the disciplinary market. Everyone has their Blakean

institutional profile, composed of the ruins the academic continues to mourn.









CHAPTER 3
BYRON'S CORPSE: ACADEMIC NECROPHILIA AND J. M. COETZEE'S DISGRACE

Cultural critics hold the figure of Byron in an ambivalent mixture of admiration and

condemnation. He is seen by some as a radical iconoclastic activist whose poetry critiques

nationalism, and whose personality forms a dramatic contrast to the facile morality of bourgeois

England. 13 Others find his "Oriental Tales" central in the nineteenth-century expansion of the

British Empire, his political stances ineffectual, and his private life a testament to misogyny.14

Byron's identity as political radical, sexual deviant, and cosmopolitan idealist reflects many of

the contradictions that define the political and social ideals held by critics wishing to use literary

studies to critique culture and affect political change. Byron's ambivalent place in cultural

studies is, therefore, symptomatic of the contradictory role of English Departments released from

their institutional role as purveyors of culture. As critics of ideology and culture, academics share

Byron's dedication to democratic and cosmopolitan ideals. As teachers holding onto survey

courses corresponding, more or less, to the established canon, Romantic scholars search for a

reason to continue to teach Byron's poetry.

As a critic of the postcolonial academy, J. M. Coetzee's depiction of the academic

embodies a similar contradiction. Coetzee's academic is an adolescent relic of European

imperialism. His portrayals of academia simultaneously critique the narcissistic political aims of

cultural critics and the aesthetic fantasies of older professors. In Elizabeth Costello (2004) an



13 See, for example, Jonathan David Gross's argument that Byron's "cosmopolitanism is a type of internationalism"
that expressed "liberalism by actively pursuing both erotic and political freedom" (4;8).

14 See Saree Makdisi's Romantic Imperialism which characterizes Byron's Childe Harold as an "imaginary map of
[...] contemporary Oriental space" (126). See also Malcom Miles Kelsall's Byron 's Politics, where he argues that
Byron "achieved nothing for reform, and was the determined opponent of the very radical forces who selectively
misread his poetry to support their cause. The life of Byron is of no political significance" (2). For an account of
Byron's early misogyny, see McGann's 'My brain is feminine': Byron and the Poetry of Deception," which charts
his early poetry enacting a misogynistic inversion of poetic sentimentalism by portraying women constantly
breaking the contract of love in Childe Harold.









aging novelist who, is bombarded with the political ambitions of literary critics discussing her

work, refuses to give an account of what her art does. The final chapter takes place in a purgatory

afterlife. This afterlife is taken and parodied from Kafka's "Before the Law," where Costello's

assertion that writers have no beliefs keeps her from passing the gates into the beyond. Coetzee's

literary writer wastes away in the middle space between two worlds; her refusal to subscribe to a

particular ideology holds her in a nihilistic border-town mocking her ideals. The academic in

Coetzee's novels fares no better. Age ofIron (1998) contrasts the insurrections occurring in the

late 1980s against apartheid with an aging classics professor dying of cancer. Political progress

happens in the corpse of the dying academic past, and Coetzee suggests that the only way to

move into the future is to abandon the smoldering ruins of literature. The academic is unable to

do this and is depicted holding on compulsively to literary fetters and figures from the past.

Coetzee's academic addresses an institutional symptom of the English Department whose

pathology directly reflects the Romantic obsession with literary celebrity. The figure of Byron is

perhaps the best example of this obsession; his afterlife, embodied in the literary tradition

secured by its institutionalization in the English Department, promises intimacy with cultural

authenticity after death. For the scholar, literary intimacy takes the form of what I call academic

necrophilia: a tendency on the part of literary academics to approach the corporate

institutionalization of literary studies by claiming intimacy with dead literary celebrities. To

explore academic necrophilia, I first turn to accounts of viewing Byron's corpse to illustrate the

tension between claiming intimacy with the literary celebrity and the separation of the

community from the corpse. A series of accounts of Byron's corpse show the complex play of

intimacy and alienation toward the material actuality of the celebrity corpse. I then turn to J. M.

Coetzee's novel Disgrace (1999) and the main character's obsession with Byron to investigate









the incorporation of the literary celebrity in the body of the academic-fan. Coetzee's character

patterns his life after Byron and, in a rite of aesthetic resurrection, attempts to recreate him in

fiction and in his classes.

The claim to intimacy made by literary scholars (whether achieved through a performative

recreation of the celebrity's meaning in the environment of the literature classroom, or the

reconstruction of her life by writing historical criticism aimed at mimetically recreating the

historical environment of the author) depends upon establishing a closeness to death and the

corpse. I combine attention to the historical construction of the celebrity corpse during the

Romantic period with an awareness of how academics, living off of the celebrity corpse,

transform the meaning of celebrity to buttress their academic identity.

Intimate Relations with Byron's Corpse

Byron's death enacted a crisis in European Romantic celebrity culture. As a celebrity,

Byron captured the whole of Europe by performing the figure of the cosmopolitan aristocrat

engaged in international adventures. In this sense, "Byron" signified much more than a writer of

books. His life transformed the category of Romantic authorship into a figure whose work

signified an essential personality. When Byron died, his fans attempted to use his body and his

literary remains to reconstruct that essential personality to make Byron appear-lively and

authentic-in their imagination. I argue that the desire on the part of fans to reconstruct Byron's

life through his remains, both literal and literary, reflected their necrophilic attachment to the

intimacy his celebrity promised. Byron's corpus, in other words, reconstructed the corpse as a

site of libidinal attachment.

As Tom Mole has argued, Byron's Romantic Celebrity played off of the intimacy many

fans felt when reading his poetry. Much of Byron's poetry was designed to provide the sense that

his readers were entering the private thoughts of a unique mind, capable of traveling beyond the









British Isles and transgressing the economic and social limitations of his middle and upper class

readers. The inspiration of a sense of intimacy led to a series of reading practices meant to

supplement the physical absence of the poet, including

buying and looking at portraits of Byron, or illustrations in which the Byronic hero was
represented as the poet, soliciting introductions to Byron, writing to him, dressing in
Byronic fashion, reading newspapers, cartoons or reviews, and falling in love, either with
the noble lord or violently, passionately and hopelessly, as his characters were wont to do.
(Mole 25)

Both acquiring various artifacts of Byron's personality and imitating that personality gave

readers the impression that they had a personal secret-kept from everyone else-that was key to

the inner life of the celebrity. Andrew Elfenbein demonstrates this effect when he argues that

Byron's poems were marketed as "more than poems [offering] an invisible commodity lying

beneath more tangible ones," focused around the personality of Byron himself (49). The desire,

on the part of readers, to keep reading Byron was directly related to their belief that continuing to

read would give a better understanding of the poet's soul and would allow them to act as if they

knew Byron in life.

The market personality Byron developed during his life also helped preserve his celebrity

after death. Byron's posthumous reception, in particular, attempted to use the promise of

intimacy to overcome the alienation of the nineteenth century community from the corpse. As

Thomas Lacquer argues, the newfound attention to public health in the eighteenth and nineteenth

centuries was due, in part, to a transformation in the attitude toward the dead. During the Middle

Ages cemeteries were generally kept alongside churches, and the dead were seen as part of the

living religious community. The smell of dead bodies acted as a sign of the perfection of the

afterlife and the corruption of earthly existence. As the amount of dead individuals threatened to

overwhelm these small cemeteries, Lacquer recounts, health officials began to complain about

the danger of rotting bodies to the public health and suggested moving cemeteries away from









churches. The body, according to Lacquer, "no longer pointed to the next life or something

transcendental but to a shortened life here on earth" (24). The corpse, and its smell, was divorced

from a community that no longer wanted to be reminded of the short length of its life.

Cemeteries were made into an entirely separate sphere, and this separation haunted Romantic

writers who now saw the immediate need to construct an afterlife in literature.15 The separation

of the corpse from the community acted as an incentive for writers to create a celebrity persona

that could outlast the life of the author. The literary afterlife, in other words, relieved anxieties

surrounding the separation of the dead from the community imaginary.

Necrophilia emerges, in the same way, as a response to the death of the literary celebrity

and the construction of a literary afterlife. The Oxford English Dictionary lists the first English

use of the word in 1892 with the work of psychologist R. von Krafft-Ebing. Krafft-Ebbing notes,

in Py).L Jllqtlhilia Sexualis, that the sexual desire for the dead corpse "satisfies an abnormal desire,

in that the object of desire is seen to be capable of absolute subjugation, without the possibility of

resistance" (100). The necrophiliac takes pleasure in the fact that the desired sexual object cannot

consent to the act. Krafft-Ebbing suggests that this attraction to passivity is part of a larger

sadistic tendency delighting in the domination of other people. Less literal forms of necrophilia

also engage an intimacy that does not depend upon consent. Necrophilia, as Dany Nobus

suggests, is part of a reaction to the death of lovers and sovereigns. He further notes that and

public interest in the condition peaked due to the popularity of gothic novels portraying






15Lacquer quotes William Hazlitt to illustrate the newfound fear of dying. For Hazlitt,
People walk along the streets the day of our deaths just as they did before, and the crowd is not diminished.
While we were living, the world seemed in manner to exist only for us. [...] But our hearts cease to beat, and
it goes on as usual, and thinks no more of us than it did in our lifetime" (qtd. in168).









vampirism, grave robbing, and ghosts. 16 The attachment to the corpse was a sign of pathological

mourning, which used the remains of the dead as a physical connection to an intimacy that was

now lost. For readers reacting to the death of their favorite author, the contest to determine who

was the better fan continued on after death. As writers crafted a personality that could survive the

death of their body to secure their memory within the community, readers became necrophiliacs

in order to dominate that memory and perpetuate their intimacy with a life that was now absent.

I argue that necrophilia is an inseparable element of the reaction to Byron's death and the

rise of literary celebrity in Britain in general. Reacting to the loss of one who signified

authenticity and allowed the lower classes to participate imaginatively in an aristocratic life,

readers of Byron's poetry found a need to reinforce all the literary qualities contributing to their

intimacy with the poet. The desire for intimacy turned onto the corpse who, in the absence of

Byron's living voice, became the repository for Byron's celebrity personality. Byron's body

became the material battleground for the mourners who attempted to prove their proximity and

intimacy to the literary celebrity by visiting his corpse and using their accounts of his physical

remains to unveil the truth of his personality.

The process whereby Byron's relics came to stand for his authentic personality combines

the fetishization of his body with the remnants surviving after his death. These relics became

substitutes for the physicality of his body, and acted to keep his mourners in contact with the

authenticity his personality signified. Ghislain McDayter has argued that, for his mourners in the

nineteenth century and his contemporary critics, Byron's body "becomes the screen upon which

we project our own fantasies, anxieties and desires," and is "the phantasmatic embodiment of our

own desire" (133). Byron's body signifies a potency and an authenticity that reflects the desire of

16 See Nobus's article "Over my Dead Body: On the Histories and Cultures of Necrophilia" for the early research on
necrophilia.









his audiences. McDayter suggests that accounts of Byron's corpse treat it like a fetish, where

Byron's image as a figure of potency is a stand-in for the lack of potency in his audiences. I

suggest that this logic of substitution is also linked to the problems of authenticity and intimacy.

Byron's corpse is a substitution for a substitution, or a fetish for his fetishized potency. If his

audience cannot have intimacy with a living poet, the desire for intimacy is then transferred to

his poetry, his portraits, and any of the texts that are substitutes for his physical presence. Since

this physical presence is already a screen for the desires of his audience, the remnant emerges as

a trace of a desire that can never be fully embodied or realized. The contest for intimacy turns

into a compulsive and pathological search for remnants of Byron's body that reflect the decaying

remains of the audience's intimacy. This search reveals the desire for Byron, and the desire for

the Romantic celebrity in general, to be fundamentally necrophilic.

The search for remains of the dead celebrity, from relics that touched the hand of Byron to

publishing lost words from his diary, characterized this contest of necrophilic intimacy. Byron's

funeral made the personal intimacy that each individual reader felt a public event comprised of

mourners who all believed they knew the dead poet best. Alfred Tennyson claimed that on the

day of Byron's death "the whole world seemed to be darkened for him" and carved "Byron is

dead" on a rock (qtd. in H. Tennyson I; 4). Thomas Carlyle felt as if he had "lost a Brother"(III;

68). Everyone wanted to claim intimacy with the corpse. Many, in fact, wanted to see the corpse

for themselves and offered to pay money for a brief glimpse of Byron's body. John Hobhouse's

diary recounts a "young man" who "prayed hard to see the body," and after viewing it, the young

man "took up a bit of the cotton in which it [Byron's body] has been wrapped and carefully put it

in his pocketbookk" (July 5, 1824). 17 The attention paid by the young man to recovering part of


1 Since Hobhouse's diaries are online, I have decided to cite individual entries with the date they were written. I cite
the URL in the References section.









the burial shroud as a relic underlines the desire to reconstruct some semblance of the intense

presence Byron conjured in his poetry. In all of these accounts, the death of a poetic figure

whose personality was desired by readers across Britain caused these readers to assert ever more

forcefully their claims to intimacy. Death brought Byron even closer to his readers than he had

been in life.

Claims to intimacy with the dead Byron took on bizarre contours when people reported

looking at the corpse and repeatedly focused on the state of decomposition. John Hobhouse, after

refusing to view the body and claiming that he would have "dropped down dead" if he actually

saw it, found himself "drawn by an irresistible inclination" to see his dead friend (July 6, 1824).

After his first refusal, Hobhouse eventually decided to open Byron's coffin and view the corpse.

He notes, chillingly, that the corpse

did not bear the slightest resemblance to my dear friend. The mouth was distorted and half
open, showing those teeth, in which, poor fellow, he once so prided himself, quite
discoloured by the spirits. His upper lip was shaded with red mustachios which gave a
totally new colour to his face, his cheeks were long and bagged over the jaw, his nose was
quite prominent at the ridge, and sunk in between the eyes, perhaps from the extraction of
the brain. His eyebrows shaggy and lowering. His forehead, marked with leech-marks
probably, his eyelids closed and sunken I presume the eyeballs having been removed
when he was embalmed. His skin was like dull yellow parchment. So complete was the
change that I was not affected as I thought I should be. It did not seem to be Byron. I was
not moved so much scarcely as at the sight of his handwriting, or anything that I know to
be his. (July 6, 1824)

The transformations made to Byron's body as a result of the embalming process become,

for Hobhouse, a corporeal commentary not only on his mourning, but also on the very lack of

intimacy that he now intensely feels toward whatever is left of Byron. Hobhouse had traveled

throughout Europe with Byron, was present at his wedding, and was the last person to see Byron

after he left the British Isles in 1816. Now, he reinforces that intimacy by relating the bodily state

of the decomposing corpse in extreme detail. He notes the ragged state of Byron's teeth; the

mustasche that Byron had grown in Greece, now quite unkept and probably even more









prominent from the gradual ebb of the dead skin from the hair follicles; the leech marks

punctuating his face with blood; and the shrunken state of Byron's once full face. Byron's body

had become zombie-like, a shriveled mockery of the beautiful face who adorned portraits in

galleries across Britain. In fact, the horror Hobhouse expected to feel when he looked at his dead

friend was completely absent. Byron did not resemble himself. He had become something else

completely.

This lack of being moved on Hobhouse's part is a reaction to the desire of Byron's fans to

preserve remnants from the poet's life. As Benita Eisler notes in her biography of Byron,

"[r]elics of the living man acquired sacred properties. From the moment when locks of hair were

snipped from the corpse, the organs packed separately, and his belongings docketed for

appropriate distribution, any connection with Byron through his possessions acquired an

unprecedented mystique" (753). Hobhouse rejects the mystical quality of the body in order to

gain control of Byron's reputation from the popular imagination. Hobhouse saw himself

entrusted with Byron's good name and memory, a mission he sometimes took to radical

extremes. Mere minutes after hearing about Byron's death, Hobhouse decided to bum a good

portion of Byron's memoirs, especially those sections he deemed indecent (May 14-15, 1824).

These actions were much to the chagrin of Thomas Moore, who had been contracted by John

Murray to write the first official biography of Byron. Hobhouse's account of seeing Byron's

corpse is designed to establish his ultimate intimacy with the poet, to argue that he is entrusted

with the meaning of Byron's memory, and to keep others from contesting his role as guardian.

Hobhouse's account begins the contest for control of the meaning of Byron, or quite

literally the material afterlife of what Byron will come to mean for a Britain still coming to terms

with his death. The contest over Byron's meaning centered on what the body signified. Without









Byron to sell his market personality to an audience, the audience was forced to connect with

Byron in other ways. Hobhouse sees his intimacy with a living Byron passing on into death, and

takes control of his memory as a way to keep Byron respectable. He can only make Byron

respectable by convincing the public to efface the mystical qualities ascribed to Byron's body,

and replace the mystique of the body with his commodified remains-his poetry, his letters, his

portraits, and his possessions.

Hobhouse, of course, had little luck convincing the public to abandon their obsession with

the celebrity corpse. Since Byron's poetry referred to Byron's personality, and Byron's

personality was seen housed within Byron's body, Hobhouse's disinterested reaction to the

corpse and his desire to remain fully in control of Byron's memory became quickly dwarfed by

the sheer amount of mourners who wanted to be as close to the poet as possible. Byron's body

was seen to be the only remnant to the fierce, aristocratic and poetic authenticity he signified.

Even the containers that housed his body became relics. The October 19, 1825 edition of The

New York Times reported that the "tube in which Byron's remains came home was exhibited by

the captain of the Rodney for 2s. 6d. a head; afterwards sold to a cooper in Whitechapel; resold

to a museum; and finally sold again to a cooper in Middle New Street, who was at that time

using it as an advertisement" (qtd. in Lamb 363).18 Everything that touches Byron's corpse

becomes sellable and expresses the celebrity Byron marketed to his fans. The marketing of

intimacy by the celebrity figure transforms the everyday object into an expression of Byron's

personality and repository of his memory. Merely touching the tube that housed Byron's body

becomes a way fans can become intimate with the remains of authenticity. The immediacy of



18 This anecdote is recounted in a footnote to the 1913 edition of Charles Lamb's poems. The footnote references an
epigraph Lamb wrote about Byron, arguing that the latter remained an alcoholic for the rest of his life. "So lordly
Juan, d-d to endless fame, / Went out apickle-and comes back the same" (363).









such objects, and their claim to have touched the dead poet's body, became more tantalizing than

the sober words of a friend who desired to recuperate Byron's reputation and his personal

intimacy with the poet.

Many other accounts of Byron's body rested upon the notion that the corpse signified

Byron's celebrity, and that it furthermore materially manifested his essential personality. Clare

Clairmont's journal satirizes Byron's body and mocks her former lover's narcissism by

suggesting that, during his autopsy, "[h]is heart laid bare, [the doctors] find an immense capital I

grown on its surface-and which had begun to pierce the breast" (qtd. in Page 167). The literary

play of Clairmont's prose teasingly suggests that his body succumbed to his self-centeredness.

Even though her account is satirical and meant to be read allegorically, the actual autopsy

follows the same pattern of overlaying Byron's celebrity characteristics onto his body. The

doctors noted that Byron's corpse "still preserved the sarcastic haughty expression, which

habitually characterized it" (Milligen 142). Byron's body, it would seem, became a prisoner to

his celebrity. Pierced by the physical manifestation of his inner narcissism and retaining the

characteristics that had famously defined the Byronic hero during his life, Byron's corpse is

literally formed out of the commodified traits of his literary figures. In death, Byron physically

reflects the personality he marketed.

Edward Trelawny affects this same transformation of Byron into his marketed self.

Trelawny, unlike Hobhouse, underscores his intimacy with Byron and-like Clairmont and the

autopsy doctor-reinforces Byron's celebrity by making his physical characteristics reflect his

famous personality. Trelawny is also the only friend of Byron that publicly disclosed his viewing

of Byron's corpse. Trelawny claims to have visited Byron's corpse mere days after his death. He

sees the corpse as "more beautiful even in death than in life. The contraction of the skin and









muscles had effaced every line traced by time or passion; few marble busts could have matched

its stainless white, the harmony of its proportions, and its perfect finish" (225). Here we see

Byron's body becoming a Greek statue. Every muscle is seen, in death, to reveal the true beauty

that Byron could only display when his skin ceases to move and, by not emoting, preserve the

smooth texture found in Byron's portraits. Byron's skin becomes statuesque, its wrinkles

smoothed out by the effect of rigor mortis and its surface shined to a perfect finish. Trelawny's

description reflects earlier comments by Walter Scott that Byron's beauty caused a brother poet

to compare it to "the sculpture of a beautiful alabaster vase, lighted up from within" (152). For

Scott's brother poet, Byron's pale skin imitated the color and texture of the vase, and the light

from his eyes revealed a beautiful soul engaged in high thoughts. Death causes the body to

embody Scott's desire, a perfect representation of the apotheosis of European art--the artist

embodying the work of art. This conjunction of the Greek art with Byron's corpse is also a focal

point of Joseph-Denis Odevaere's painting "Lord Byron on his Death-bed," which portrays

Byron's corpse as a perfectly preserved statue, resting lightly on his bed and surrounded by pen,

sword, and lyre.

Trelawny implicitly argues in this description that to appreciate Byron's art and his

personality one should view his body. Byron's corpse had now become a perfect reflection of the

intense aristocratic hero he portrayed in his poetry. By viewing the corpse, Trelawny bypasses

the poetry and stares directly at the authenticity materialized by the material proximity of

Byron's body. 19




19
1Trelawny's description changes when Byron's servant leaves the room, and he fearlessly "uncover(s) the
pilgrim's feet [... ] both feet were clubbed, and the legs withered to the knee: the form and face of an Apollo, with
the feet and legs of a sylvan satyr" (225). The irony of this last passage reflects a long controversy over the state of
Byron's legs after his death. One of the many controversies of Byron's death involved whether one, two or none of
his feet were clubbed. The excavation of Byron's corpse in 1938 establishede] the fact that his lameness had been









Hobhouse, Clairmont, Milligen, and Trelawny each used their intimacy with Byron to

prepare a place for his memory after he died. Trelawny, especially, used his description to

communicate the meaning of Byron's afterlife to his fans and to secure Byron's celebrity as a

poet of beauty and aristocracy. Despite Hobhouse's quest to rescue Byron from scandal and

secure his afterlife as a British poet of respectability, other accounts bank upon the promise of

intimacy encoded within Byron's poetry to entice the interests of a fan-base who had collectively

experienced the trauma of Byron's death. The focus on Byron's corpse as a repository for

Byron's personality reacted against the trauma of his corporeal separation from the community;

it assured readers and mourners alike that Byron had not disappeared, that the personality

contained within his poetry literally reflected material realities etched on his body. Byron's

market personality secured the body against the corpse's muteness, and it reflected the poet's

expression of authenticity and poetic truth. The desire for poetic truth is signified directly by

Byron's corpse. To be a true fan of Byron during the years surrounding his death meant

substituting the materiality of the corpse for the celebrity body, it meant becoming-quite

literally-a necrophiliac.

Byron and the Death of the Postmodern Academic

But there are other people to do these things-the animal welfare thing, the social
rehabilitation thing, even the Byron thing. He saves the honor of corpses because there is
no one else stupid enough to do it.
--David Lurie in Disgrace

As he thinks these lines toward the end of J. M. Coetzee's novel Disgrace, David Lurie is

loading the corpses of dogs onto a conveyor belt that will dump them into a large incinerator.

Lurie honors these animal corpses; he keeps their limbs from being broken by the workmen


of the right foot" (qtd. in MacCarthy 574). The legs represented for both Byron and his readers an ironic deformity
cutting across the image of the perfect British aristocrat.









operating the incinerator. He notices that it is his stupidity that keeps him attached to the corpses,

no one else will give them a final dignity. He recognizes the immediate, material need for

someone to keep watch over the dead remains. And while the weighty bodies of stray dogs pile

up at the eunthanist where Lurie volunteers, the need to preserve Byron's cultural memory

remains largely immaterial in comparison-a compulsion on the academic's part to maintain a

cultural attachment to the literary celebrity after the death of its body. Lurie's care for the dead is

a product of a stubborn stupidity, a compulsive necrophilia unable to detach itself from the dead

libidinal object.

The necrophilic attachment to Byron's cultural memory, I argue, largely informs Coetzee's

critique of academia in Disgrace. Byron has neither body nor corpse in the novel. There is no

physical manifestation of Byron anywhere, and yet his absence is felt keenly. Byron's seductive

promises of intimacy are lost on Lurie's students. His lectures on Byron and Wordsworth are met

with silence and ignorance. Lurie regards his students as "[p]ost-Christain, posthistorical,

postliterate," without any care for the transcendental experiences of poets living in the past (32).

The intimacy promised by the Byronic celebrity, and the desire that promise inspired, disappear

along with the deteriorating corpse. David Lurie invokes Byron in his half-hearted seduction of

his student Melanie, who pauses and mentions poetry only with a passing interest. When asked if

she writes poetry, Melanie responds, "I did when I was at school. I wasn't very good. I haven't

got the time now" (13). Lurie himself gradually shifts attention away from Byron who is initially

the subject of a planned scholarly work, then becomes the central character in an opera he

decides to compose on the poet's time in Italy, then disappears completely from the work that

now focuses on Teressa Guiccoli's mourning for the deceased and absent Byron. Disgrace

dissolves the intimate material claim of Byron's corpse into the vagarities of an irrelevant and









politically problematic cultural memory and a poetic corpus whose existence has only a fading

archival value. By focusing on the dissolution of the celebrity's corpse into absence and

irrelevance, Coetzee highlights the loss of intimacy in the University and the necrophilic

attempts of displaced academics to reconnect with the literary celebrity.

The inner workings of Byron's cultural memory in the novel are highly complex as it

presents truths that are, in Linda Seidel's words, "limited, contradictory, exasperating" (1).

Coetzee seems to relish in the afterglow of artistic creation, allowing David Lurie one brief

moment of sublimity while composing Byron in Italy. On the other hand, the outlook of

Romanticism's optimism about the human spirit does not translate well into Coetzee's harsh

South African landscape. David Lurie's Byron is seen, at best, as a misguided revolutionary

unaware of the limitations of his European brand of cosmopolitanism. The critique of

Romanticism leveled through the figure of Byron in the novel is read quite compellingly by

Jerome McGann as a parable of its limitations in the post-colonial novel. McGann, in fact, leaves

the Romantic scholar with the depressing and ghastly task to "go on with [their] memorial

activities, as classical scholars have long since done with works even more unbelievable than our

own romantic works" ("Is Romanticism Finished?"). The Romantic scholar is told, in an almost

Voltairian fashion, to tend to the memorial garden of the Romantic period and give up the ghost.

McGann's suggestion that Romantic scholars should start acting like classics professors

reveals more than he seemingly intended. Bill Readings makes the same comparison when

mourning the fate of liberal arts education. The English department, according to Readings, will

suffer the same fate as classics departments. Their emphasis on a subject of culture that

legitimates nationalism is no longer needed in the contemporary University. Classical texts

will continue to be read, but the assumptions that necessitated a department of classics for
this purpose (the need to prove that Pericles and Bismark were the same kind of men) no









longer hold, so there is no longer a need to employ a massive institutional apparatus
designed to make ancient Greeks into ideal Etonians or Young Americans avant la lettre.
(33)

Readings sketches a portrait of the classics department separated from its traditional role as a

disseminator of culture shaping the national subject. Nationalism used classical education to

legitimate the present political climate and to provide a set of heroic examples for young people

to emulate. Readings argues that, in the wane of nationalism and the nationalist subject, the need

for classics departments likewise diminishes. The appearance of "Cultural Studies," and its

attendant critique of nationalist and colonial ideology are symptomatic of the wane of culture as

a central concern in the University, when it "ceases to mean anything vital for the University as a

whole" (91). Cultural Studies can only exist when culture is a dead topic. The centrality of

Cultural Studies in the English Department and its focus on ideological critique signifies, for

Readings, are the last gasps of a body that has already outlasted its own life and persists despite

already being dead.

In interviews and essays, Coetzee has voiced similar observations about the current state of

the University. In an article responding to Andre du Toit, Coetzee calls the modern intellectual

impossible without an idealism that is related to Romanticism. He, nevertheless, calls upon

intellectuals to confront the current issues of what he calls "intellectual colonization" that

inhabits the body of students in "their speech, the rhythm of their bodies, their affective behavior

including their sexual behavior, their modes of thinking" (111). Instead of hunting down the

ghosts of the nineteenth century, in the form of racism or colonialism, Coetzee argues that we

should really be confronting neoliberalism and globalization. In this corporate University

operating in the wake of globalization, the bodies of students and professors are possessed by

neoliberalism. Neoliberalism co-opts the ghosts of the past to inhabit the body of the

contemporary, corporate academic. The University, as a corpse for cultural studies, destroys the









critical capability of the English Department by materializing and exorcising its ghosts. These

ghosts take on the form of the professor who is made to professionally inhabit a subject position

that is an abstracted, processed and institutionalized form of the literary afterlife. Coetzee's

critique of the corporate University reflects the anxieties of David Lurie and contributes to the

depiction of the professor's ruined institution.

Coetzee sees the academic entrenched in a corporate landscape of familiar ghosts and

abstractions feeding the engine of professionalism. In an interview with David Atwell, Coetzee

distinguishes between the writing of fiction and the function of the critic who develops

abstract-and commodifiable-knowledge. He points out the

inherent tension between on the one hand the artist, to whom we can call "the question of
ones life" or "the question of how, in ones own case, to live" may be the source of a drama
that plays itself out over time, with many ups and downs, and on the other hand the critic
or observer or reader who wants to package and label the artist and his particular question
and move on elsewhere.

Coetzee's valorization of the artist centers on the use of the aesthetic in developing a life, over

the course of one's life. The questions encountered while living life are played out in artistic

experimentation and can take on difference valences throughout life. The critic, on the other

hand, isolates these questions in a particular context, identifies that context, and packages and

labels it with the intention of imitating and controlling the life of the literary celebrity. The

tension between the life of the artist is contrasted with the elsewhere of the critic. Where, we

might ask Coetzee, does the critic go? Where is the elsewhere that defines the critic's departure

from the life of the artist? Coetzee never answers this question in the interview. But his lack of

an answer recalls the image of the postmodern academic stranded in a landscape of corporate

ghosts. Coetzee's elsewhere signals a lack of life, a space occupied by abstractions that have

little relevance to the living realm of the artist. There, in a space that is both possessed by the

material ghosts of the past and abstracted by the departure of criticism from the life of the artist,









the academic's role is to create a professional subjectivity tied intimately to a life that can be

captured with a label. By knowing the intimate and unchanging secrets of the literary celebrity's

life, necrophilic academics secure their position as the ones who are most intimate with the

universally desired figure. What can academics and scholars do in Coetzee's elsewhere, but

engage in critical memorial activities to honor corpses that no one else will?

The need to preserve cultural memory despite its lack of an ideological purpose alienates

Coetzee's academic from the larger community that no longer shares his concerns. David Lurie

is no longer a professor of Modem Languages, but is instead unmoored from a specific

department. He teaches one section of Romantic literature and two sections of Communications

101, a class whose premise Lurie finds preposterous: "Human society has created language in

order that we may communicate our thoughts, feelings, and intentions to one another" (3-4).

Lurie's unexpressed counterargument, that language has its origins in "song" and "the need to

fill out with sound the overlarge and rather empty human soul," has no place in the University

because its claim fails to resound in a system dedicated to what Mark Sanders calls

instrumentation (4).20 Lurie sees his school as a "transformed and, to his mind, emasculated

institution of learning" and his fellow teachers as "clerks in a post-religious age" reduced to

"correcting lapses in punctuation, spelling and usage, interrogating weak arguments, [and]

appending to each paper a brief, considered critique" (4-5). Lurie minds his business, performs

his instrumental role, and passively accepts his marginal status.

The desire for intimacy with the celebrity in Disgrace is also translated into a larger

problem of intimacy within the collegiate community. Instead of offering communal intimacy,



20 Sander's essay argues that Disgrace is about "the capacity of language to alter itself and its speakers long after
losing articulateness for those who have claimed privileged ownership of it" (372). Sanders contrasts Lurie's use of
the perfective in his classes with the stress on completion imposed by his academic institution.









Lurie's corporate campus emphasizes individual professional development and the isolation of

the scholar from his peers. As the University professor becomes more isolated, he attempts to

form intimate connections with his students. Lurie's relationships to his idolized Romantic

celebrities are staged as a relief from the intense alienation Lurie feels from his students, his

profession, and his craft. Teaching is an obligation to the state, performed only to make money

and to maintain some semblance of a connection with the world. Lurie "continues to teach

because it provides him with a livelihood; also because it teaches him humility, brings home to

him who he is in the world. The irony does not escape him: that the one who comes to teach

learns the keenest of lessons, while those who come to learn learn nothing" (6). Lurie holds to an

older, Platonic ideal of teaching in order to bring enlightenment to those who know little or

nothing. But ensconced within an age without the desire to reach moments of revelation, he can

do little but ape the same tired platitudes from the same anthologies. The only thing he learns

from his experience with his students is alienation that reinforces his belief that he is doing

nothing of importance in Cape Town, and that academic life offers nothing but isolation and

meaninglessness.

Lurie's only access to anything he considers intimate comes in the form of brief flings he

has with other members of his department and his students. Even these flings provide little

excitement. Lurie's affair with Melanie serves as the apotheosis of his failed attempt to fuse

teaching with his more poetic inclinations to break through the cloud of disinterest he feels in his

everyday life. He mentions to Melanie that "poetry speaks to you either at first sight or not at all.

A flash of revelation and a flash of response. Like lightning. Like falling in love" (13). Poetry

supplements intimacy for Lurie, it ignites an immediate feeling of connection that fuses one to

the secret thoughts of the author. For Melanie, the words seem only half-sincere, completely cut









off from the reality of her life. Melanie's passivity in the early chapters of the book not only

reflect her separation from the older academic, but also underscore the disavowed consequences

of Lurie's attempt to regain intimacy with his students. Lucy Graham suggests that the initial

encounter between Melanie and David is best read as a rape scene. The free indirect perspective

of the novel plays upon Melanie's silence to expose Lurie as part of an unexpressed tradition of

"the college novel, a genre that often masks the inequalities, gender harassments and incidents of

rape reported in campus life" (438). Rape becomes the dark underside of Lurie's search for

intimacy at the University. Its silent presence in the novel is the obverse of Byron's absence.

The discourse surrounding the possible rape of Melaine by her teacher suggests the

necrophilic character of Lurie's libidinal attachment to the ghosts in the past and his students at

the University. Necrophiliacs, as I argued earlier, derive pleasure from their domination over the

corpse. The corpse cannot fight against sexual advances, nor can it consent to those advances.

All love for the necrophiliac is, in essence, a rape.21 Similarly, Lurie's attachment to Byron

suggests another kind of rape that is connected to the search for poetic authenticity. The celebrity

cannot fully consent to the love offered by either the fan or the academic critic. This love is

always, of necessity, one-sided; it is predicated upon a distance between the celebrity and the fan

that contributes to the celebrity's popularity. As a figure plagued with distance and isolation, not

only believing in the authenticity offered by Byron but also holding onto a Romantic idealization

of love, Lurie cannot help but to be a necrophiliac and a rapist. His search for intimacy connects

a necrophilic longing for an object that cannot consent to a pedagogical style that attempts to

reignite love in a corporate University space that is seen as abstracted and dead.




21 I am indebted to John Leavey for suggesting this line of inquiry.









Lurie searches for intimacy with his students on a pedagogical level by rhetorically

including them in his desire to be with Byron when the poet experiences aesthetic transcendence.

He mentions to his students that the famous Mount Blanc is like "Drakensberg, or on a smaller

scale Table Mountain, which we climb in the wake of the poets, hoping for one of those

revelatory, Wordsworthian moments we have all heard about" (23). Here Lurie transports

European landscape and pastes it onto South Africa. Lurie stages his lectures as Romantic

dramas of revelation. He keeps close to the demands of departmental curricula and the historical

arguments of people in his field, while hoping that miming the insights of poets in his class will

lead to the same authentic experiences of Byron and Wordsworth. He uses the memory of Byron,

his famous claim to authenticity, as a personal and professional archetype. By teaching him in

class, David Lurie becomes Byron, inhabits his voices, and speaks his maxims, all in the hope

that his students would share the intimacy Lurie feels when writing about the poet.

Lurie's imitation of Byron in the classroom is a desperate attempt to reclaim the intimacy

promised by Byron as well as the authenticity he signified as a Romantic artist from the

academic's growing sense of marginality. In his lecture, Byron not only signifies Lurie's guilt

over seducing Melanie. He also serves to provide a separate sphere of intimacy for the academic.

By allying and identifying himself with Byron, Lurie is able to condemn his students for their

separation from the past and applaud himself for remaining authentically Romantic. In the

classroom, Lurie makes distinct connections between Byron's life and his own. As he begins his

lecture, Lurie quotes from Byron's poem "Lara" describing an individual who is a "stranger," a

"thing of dark imaginings, that shaped/By choice the perils he by chance escaped" (qtd. in

Coetzee 32). The relationship to Lurie's life is not lost on the professor who finds, despite his

misgivings, that he cannot "evade the poem" (32). As he elaborates the dark personality of









Byron's characters, mentioning Lucifer in Byron's Cain as a figure who provokes sympathy but

is ultimately condemned to solitude, Lurie takes the poem to be a direct commentary on his life.

Lurie, too, provokes sympathy but this sympathy only proves how isolated he is from the

university community.

The professor takes on the personality of the dead poet to combat his growing sense of

alienation. He ingests and incorporates Byron's memory into his body. As much as he recognizes

the many parallels between Byron's life and his own, there are several that Lurie never seems to

notice. Lurie's scandal and exile from the University mirror Byron's departure from England

after the public condemned his relationship to half-sister Augusta Leigh. His inability to connect

with daughter Lucy reflects Byron's virtual neglect of his daughters, as he sent one to a convent

to die and never knew the other. Byron's cosmopolitanism and attraction to the Orient is

problematized by the very setting of the novel, in a South Africa attempting to find an identity

after apartheid.22 If Byron's life is an archetype for Lurie's, the setting has changed dramatically.

The intense, authentic, even heroic personality of the poet is transformed into a quiet, pathetic

personality of an academic fighting against aging and nihilism.

The aristocratic, aesthetic, sexual aspects of Byron are molded into the figure of the

disgraced academic. For Coetzee, the academic replaces the question of life with the imitation of

the literary celebrity who provides intimacy as a replacement for the questions undertaken by the

writer for his life work. Lurie's character is famously self-deluded by his Romantic fantasies

throughout the entire novel. He never fully admits the problematic character of his relationship

with Melanie. He only slightly understands Lucy's reason for not leaving her farm in South



22 Jerome McGann mentions several parallels between Byron's life and Lurie's story in his essay on Byron and
Coetzee. He also mentions Byron's famous love of dogs and the violent treatment of dogs as a response to their
being a symbol of white dominance.









Africa. His reflections on the many complex political events he experiences are always filtered

through a simplistic, nostalgic yearning for the Romantic past or a lament for the loss of youth.

Lurie's composition of Byron in Italy, designed to relieve the academic of prose, implicates

artistic creation in the same mourning ritual for a lost Romantic connection with the ghosts of the

past. Lurie initially planned on having the opera focus on Byron's final years in Italy. However,

he decided instead to focus on mourning after Byron's death. Lurie senses that his creative

reimagining of Byron's death subtly transforms his relationship with the poet. Instead of creating

abstract prose and following the afterlife of the literary celebrity, Lurie imagines himself-

however fleetingly-becoming part of the artistic experience itself. As he begins to compose the

music to accompany an impossible conversation between Teresa and a Byron who is long dead,

Lurie reenacts the mourning process of the academic writing criticism. Lurie, in fact, imagines

himself as a ghost who inhabits the conversation. In death, and in the afterlife, Lurie aesthetically

inhabits the music of Byron's ghostly language.

Six months ago he had thought his own ghostly place in Byron in Italy would be
somewhere between Teresa's and Byron's: between a yearning to prolong the summer of
his passionate body and a reluctant recall from the long sleep of oblivion. But he was
wrong. It is not the erotic that is calling to him after all, nor the elegiac, but the comic. He
is in the opera neither as Teresa nor as Byron nor even as some blending of the two: he is
held in the music itself, in the flat, tinny slap of the banjo strings, the voice that strains to
soar away from the ludicrous instrument but is continually reigned back, like a fish on a
line. (185)

This episode is clearly meant to support Coetzee's valorization of the aesthetic life above its

imitation in the abstract thought of the academic. Yet the section also shows how the academic-

artist, in his desire to merge with the ghostly voice of the poet, imagines himself as a ghost

existing alongside the poet who has a closer relationship to life. If Byron is a ghost, mourned by

Teresa, Lurie is even more insubstantial. He is held aloft by their wailing and then slapped back

down, caught in the beat of their memory. It is difficult to determine whether Lurie finds this









moment exhilarating or a complete and final degradation that condemns him to the isolation of

death. As a fish caught in a line, Lurie's life is sacrificed to feed the memory of the celebrity. His

voice is tethered to the whims of his characters, caught in the melody of their concerns. In

Lurie's opera, Teresa keeps her letters from Byron as her only remaining claim to immortality, a

chest "she calls her relique, which her grand-nieces are meant to open after her death and pursue

with awe" (181). Death confronts both Lurie and Tessa with the all-encompassing questions of

life. It can only do so from the vantage point of the dead celebrity and his relics. Any claim to

Lurie's immortality, and he realizes that the opera he composes only offers a slight claim to a

short afterlife, is couched in the trace of Byron's corpse. In art, as in criticism, the celebrity

corpse remains a potent reminder of the academic's melancholy and a realization that the

intimacy promised by the celebrity will never be fulfilled.

Coetzee characterizes the academic as an impotent necrophilic fan, blinded by questions of

authenticity and his yearning to remain close to dead literary celebrities. The academic cannot

pose an adequate response to the possession and control of bodies by globalist corporations

because the corporate bodies of the literary celebrity possess him. Unanchored from their

purpose as disseminators of imperialist culture, academics compulsively return to their corpses

and attempt to resurrect the memory of literary celebrity using their own bodies as repositories of

nostalgia. Coetzee's academic short-circuits important questions of authenticity, ethics, and

politics by referencing Byron's values. Even when he seems to get rid of Byron, and removes

him entirely from his opera, Lurie's necrophilia lives on in his characterization of Teresa who

wants to bequeath her memories of loving the celebrity to her children. Lurie wishes to leave

something as well, something aesthetic and authentic. But, stifled underneath his own

commitment to Byron, he can only produce another piece of fan-fiction tied to a series of songs









that are not even composed by him. The focus on authenticity by the academic uses the promise

of intimacy to bypass anxieties surrounding isolation, loneliness, and finally death.

Symptomatically, the corpse returns as a reflection of the academic's invisibility and marginality,

somehow convincing the academic that this marginality is itself worth preserving.

George Gordon Byron, Postmodern Ph.D.

In the introduction, I argued that Coetzee's critique transforms the academic into a corpse

of contemporary life. Coetzee's fiction depicts the academic as a cultural sacrifice to the

demands of political progress. I also argued that Byron's ambivalent place in cultural studies

emerges from his cosmopolitan ambitions, which I compared with the political ambitions of the

academic. I want to take up this question of political efficacy and present the figure of Byron as a

way to imagine the difficulties of sketching a literary future for the postmodern University.

Byron is an essential figure for Coetzee because he, perhaps more than any other artist operating

during the age of British Romanticism, highlights the contradictions of the imperialist but still

liberal and radical ambitions of literary education. The institutional existence of liberal education

cannot be understood outside of this contradiction. And, at the same time, it is the place of

postcolonialism within the English Department-the very place where one would expect to find

critical consideration of J. M. Coetzee's work-that this contradiction is the most palpable. As

an institution within the postmodern University, postcolonialism inhabits Byron's contradictions

and compulsively returns to the corpse of the Romantic author to stage its critiques.

A good example of this contradiction is Gayatri Spivak's meditation on the future of

literary studies aptly entitled Death of a Discipline. Spivak's book attempts to find a new

purpose for literary studies in an age where nationalist boundaries are dissolving and where the

practice of Comparative Literature nevertheless continues to explore what she calls "Europe and

the extracurricular Orient" (6). She suggests redefining the study of comparative literature,









pulling it away from area studies, focusing on the more complicated issue of border crossing, and

perhaps most surprisingly transforming the identitarian category of the globe with the natural and

environmental figure of the planet. Her utopian tone throughout the book is toned down with a

list of her institutional limitations. Toward the end of the book, Spivak admits that:

Cultural studies is heavily invested in New Immigrant groups. It seems to me that a
planetary Comparative Literature must attempt to move away from this base. What I write
in closing will give some indication of the way out, as far as a nonexpert can imagine it.
These words are no more than scattered speculations, to mark the limits of my rather
conventional U.S. Comparative Literature training: English, French, German poetry and
literary theory, romantic and modernist. (84)

Spivak's scattered speculations mark literature as a boundary of possibility for the literary

academic, suggesting that the study of postcolonial literature figures an internal contradiction

that cannot be resolved between the identity of immigrant groups and the need to find a new

literary genre that can represent transnational, extracurricular experiences. Spivak picks at the

corpse of her Comparative Literature training, providing a series of readings that prove her

intimacy with literary authors in order to sketch out a vision of the institutional future. Her

apology marks an institutional reluctance to move away from the form of exegesis and attempt to

find some other way to understand and appreciate the global circulation of literature. Literary

scholarship is still made to touch the boundaries of its extracurricular Orientalist possibilities.

Spivak's postcolonial academic becomes the postmodern cosmopolitan, enlightening the

reader who is trapped within older, nationalist structures of thought and reclaiming literature

from its imperialist past. The academic can both support an essentially progressive function for

literature and train the imagination to think beyond the strictures of nationalism. Spivak's role

for literature is still Romantic. By highlighting a traditionalist mode of literary interpretation

grounded in the exceptional figure, Spivak marks comparative literature as still an essentially

European, Romantic, even Byronic activity. Byron's poetry, after all, provided many British









subjects their first literary glimpse of the exotic Other and sketched out the subjectivity of the

enlightened, cosmopolitan reader. Spivak's literary limitations show just how difficult it is to

move past the model of celebrity that is so entrenched in the literature department. Far from

moving past imperialism, literary discourse circles around the strictures of Byronic Orientalism.

The Byronic corpse becomes a bridge for the academic attempting to think the Other.

Byron conjoined the intimacy of the celebrity with the excitement of travel and the attraction of

intellectualism with liberal politics. As a nexus for critical, humanistic thought, Byron's corpse

signifies both that which academics wish to leave behind and that which they, secretly, always

wished to be: privileged, yet critical; beautiful, yet iconoclastic; poetic, yet popular. Byron's

afterlife in popular fiction obscures his afterlife in the figure, perhaps even the very body, of the

postmodern academic. Clinging to the material artifacts of the literary celebrity, proclaiming the

necessity for understanding the real historical situation in which Byron lived, attempting to argue

for the ultimate idealism of Byron against his detractors, Byron scholars look very much like

those intimates who fought over control of his physical remains.

Perhaps what Spivak's example shows us is that the true professor of the postmodern

University, with its attendant freedoms and limitations, should be Byron. As students of

Romantic thought, we should neither proclaim the death of Romanticism nor dwell on the

problematic ideologies of men who shared the prejudices and ideological assumptions of the

early nineteenth century. Literary education is, therefore, not an exercise in training oneself to

think differently, as such an education merely reinscribes the market imperative to produce new

commodities. It also, however, cannot simply reflect on a past whose corpses are pilfered for

new histories. As Coetzee implies in Disgrace, Byron is a figure through which the

contradictory-often oppressive-realities of misunderstanding the colonial Other can be









thought. The postmodern academic continues to be part of that misunderstanding. By analyzing

Byron's reception as a repressed, disavowed desire for poetic, aristocratic and academic

authenticity, we can begin to understand the cultural impact of his corpse upon a globalizing

University.









CHAPTER 4
THE STILLBORN PAST: ACADEMIC REALISM, THE HAUNTED SUMMER OF 1816
AND KEN RUSSELL'S GOTHIC

Despite the fact that the haunted summer of 1816 is one of the most dramatic and

perplexing historical events occurring during the Romantic period, few academics choose to

write historical criticism about it. James Rieger's powerful and memorable 1967 argument that

the "received history of the contest in writing ghost stories at the Villa Diodati" is almost entirely

fictional has kept most literary historians from touching the subject (461). Yet academics

consume fictional, biographical, filmic, and theatrical recreations of the event and present them

in their classes. In 2001 Ron Broglio and Eric Sonstroem incorporated elements from the Diodati

myth into their FrankenMOO: an online teaching environment that allowed users to pick up

Byron's famous skull cups, observe the decaying portraits of Byron's family, and become

characters from Mary Shelley's novel.23 Texts like Anne Edwards's novel Haunted Summer

(1989), Howard Brenton's play Bloody Poetry (1989), Paul West's LordByron's Doctor (1989),

and Gonzalo Suarez's film Remando al viento (1988) are frequently found in Romantic period

surveys. Even while questioning the historical validity of the events at Diodati, academics

continue to use these fictional recreations as pedagogical instruments to introduce students to

Lord Byron, the Shelleys, and John Polodori.

This contradictory attitude towards the events at Diodati strikes at the very heart of

academic subjectivity in literary studies and the degree to which such identity depends upon the

mourning of the dead literary celebrity. Stephen Greenblatt's presidential address to the MLA in

2002 defined literature as, at least in one context, the "triumph over death," and criticism as an



23 See Sonstroem "Do you really want a revolution?: CyberTheory meets real-life pedagogical practice in
FrankenMOO and the conventional literature classroom" for more information about his collaboration with Broglio
on the FrankenMOO.









act to "keep alive and to circulate what might otherwise be silenced forever" (420, 423). The

academic, according to Greenblatt, preserves the memory of the past against its annihilation. He

suggests that the University is a "special community [...] constituted by the ability that each of

us has to be seized with the conviction that someone we do not know is addressing us personally

and with eloquence" (418). Furthermore, this moment of being contacted from the beyond is a

"silent moment, constantly renewed," acting as the essence of academic professional life (419).

He links this intense absorption to his childhood, where the books in Greenblatt's home inspired

an interest in reading that would later culminate in his academic identity.

Greenblatt's theory of a special connection between the literary academic and the dead,

renewed not only through the production of new critical work but also through inspiring new

generations of academic critics, I call "academic realism." Academic realism seeks a relationship

between the academic critic and a voice from the past that the critic is trying to contact. It also

seeks to renew that connection by inspiring students in the classroom and introducing them to

this special connection. Realists attempt to make the voices of the dead present by codifying and

memorializing these voices in critical discourse. While the feeling of connection motivates

Greenblatt's academic, he never argues that connections between the academic and the past or

the future are successful.

In fact, the unsuccessful or bad connections between literary critics, their progeny, and the

dead interest me in this chapter. These bad connections made by the academic give rise to an

uncontrollable process of phantasmic doubling in the discourse surrounding the Haunted

Summer. By analyzing biographical retellings of the Villa Diodati event along with Ken

Russell's reviled film Gothic (1987), I explore the complexities of academic realism and reveal

the gothic elements underpinning its special connection to the dead. I first turn to the role









biography plays in the dissemination of the Diodati tale. The intrusion of the gothic into

biography complicates realism by including uncanny and occult experiences in literary history,

and by invoking a mass readership that is part of the gothic novel's history. Then, I turn to

Russell's film to illustrate how he appropriates the Diodati story to comment on film and

historical realism by linking the gothic form with the desire to penetrate Byron's home. I show

how Russell's film frustrates the connection to the past through its framing, the casting of its

main characters, and the intrusion of painting into its mise en scene. The uncertain place of the

Haunted Summer in literary history is exposed by the symptomatic rhetoric surrounding its

retelling in literary biographies and the frenzied depiction of the event in Russell's film. This

chapter uses Russell's film and biographies surrounding the Haunted Summer of 1816 to analyze

the boundaries of academic realism as a series of interrupted, uncanny connections infiltrating

the special relationship between the academic and the dead.

Death, Realism, and the Academic Politics of Biography

Biography holds a central place in the construction of literary history. This point is

especially so in studies of the Romantic period where literary history is still influenced by the

personalities of its writers.24 Biography is also frequently cited in historical criticism. Both Fiona

MacCarthy's biography of Byron and Jonathan Bate's biography of John Claire are widely used

in historical treatments of the poets.25 Despite the dependence of historical criticism on Romantic


24 See David Chandler's essay 'One Consciousness', Historical Criticism and the Romantic Canon" for a
particularly interesting reading of the relationship between New Historicism and the canon. Chandler suggests that
two historicisms emerged out of the 80s: one that challenged the canon and one that did not. A large strain of
criticism held onto the canon, according to Chandler, to produce a relevant and provocative challenge to orthodox
Romantic studies. Despite their emphasis on marginalized figures, new historicists still focus on personality to prove
the importance, and thus the due celebrity, of previously unrecognized figures.
25 See Minta's "Lord Byron and Mavrokordatos," and Claire Knowles's "Poetry, Fame, Scandal: The Cases of
Byron and Landon." for criticism citing MacCarthy's biography. See Sarah Houghton's "John Claire and
Revaluation," and Michelle Faulbert's "Cure, Classification, and John Claire" for criticism citing Bate's biography.
Jonathan Bate actually contributed to the Romantic Biography collection and was praised by its editors.









biography, many academics are reluctant to align themselves with the popular form. Christopher

Rovee, in a review of a collection of essays titled Romantic Biography, called biography the

"mass consumerable form of literary scholarship" that, like film, straddled a dangerous line

between popular and academic audiences (737). The separation of academics from the

"dangerous" forms of film and Romantic biography highlights the fear that a good portion of

academics still have toward being identified completely with popular audiences.26 Academia

uses the biography as a source material for criticism, yet Rovee suggests that academics must

also separate themselves from what he considers a popular form.

For the editors of Romantic Biography, history provides the separation between academia

and the uninformed popular masses. Romantic biographies, Rawes and Bradley argue,

traditionally focus on transcendental genius, are "neo-conservative," and fail "to get to grips with

the social, political and philosophical radicalism of the Romantics themselves" (xiii). As such,

Romantic biography acts to disseminate mythology rather than real history. Academics, say

Rawes and Bradley, are too serious to buy into the suggestions of biographers, many of whom

overdramatize the lives of their subjects for popular audiences. The editors cite Francis Wheen's

biography of Marx in which the author "informs us that, while working to destroy western

capitalism, the philosopher used to go on drunken pub-crawls in Soho" (xiii-xiv). The editors

reject such lurid details for the more sober work that stresses the proper historical contexts for

Romantic writers.


26 It is important to mention that many academics do not mind being identified as fans. Constance Penley, Andrew
Ross and Henry Jenkins are widely known as academics who identify with the fan community. In fact, Richard Burt
has argued that academic-fans want to "occupy all positions, be the virtuoso, the one who can cross over, do it all"
(15). Henry Jenkins has responded to this critique by arguing that theory emerges both within and without the
academy, and that academic theory production is siinlpl one subcutural or institutional practice among many" (13).
My argument is more focused on an institutional reluctance by the academic who, as academic, refuses to be
identified with a mass readership. The subjectivity of the academic is bound-culturally, economically, and
institutionally-to reinforce the boundary that Jenkins dismisses between themselves and the fan. As Burt argues
with reference to Penley and Ross, the academic wants to keep the boundary "at least faintly" in place (15).









The dichotomy between sober history and lurid biography sublimates an anxiety with mass

readership that structures Rawes and Bradley's approach to literary scholarship. This anxiety

appropriates realism, supported by the authority of the academic institution, as a means to

exclude mass audiences. The practice of appropriating biography for critical work remains

dangerous for these academics because it exposes scholars to the racy details of the literary past

and could turn them from more sober and serious historical work. The racy details surrounding

the writing of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) provide a useful example to understand what

I call a gothic intrusion of lurid enthusiasm into the discourse of sober history. As a case in

celebrity and history, the Haunted Summer of 1816 offers what few other literary events do.

1816 can be seen as one of the first celebrity events. And, its status as a celebrity event is related

to the production of literature. The featured personalities are a list of some of the most prominent

British writers during the time including Byron, Mary and Percy Shelley, and John Polodori. The

event itself gives birth to two of the most enduring legends of horror: Frankenstein and the

modern Vampire. Diodati during the summer of 1816 acts as a kind of nexus for Romantic

celebrity.

Another way to consider the summer of 1816 is to show how its legend is disseminated,

repeated, and produced by popular accounts of Romantic history. Studying the lurid details of the

Haunted Summer can help us to explore the more gothic aspects involved in the production of

history. As James Chandler provocatively argues in England in 1819, the historicism of 80s and

90s criticism acts as a repetition of the Romantic interest in history. He sees

the interest in cultural chronology, rather than being explained away as an anachronistic
cultural projection from the present onto the late-Romantic period, could be understood
instead, or in addition, as a suppressed residue from the earlier period still operative in the
contemporary practice of literary and cultural history. (33)









Chandler characterizes historicism from the position of doubling and repetition, suggesting that

the elements making history so attractive during the Romantic period emerge again in 80s and

90s English Department as a newfound interest in historicism. For me, the emphasis on residue

and repetition also argues for the reemergence of older debates in new forms. If the Romantic

interest in history emerges in newer forms of criticism, perhaps other questions related to history

can also be explained as repetitions of older debates emerging once again.

The tension between racy and sober history could, I suggest, be seen as a repetition of the

nineteenth-century contest between the gothic and realist novel in Britain. Bradford K. Mudge

contextualizes the debate between the gothic and realism in terms of gender. He also suggests

that the reduction of the gothic to the more popular and less radical horror genre had its origin in

the need to redefine class roles due to the rise of a middle-class readership. The novel, according

to Mudge, became legitimate to literary circles by rejecting its imaginative excesses. The

depiction of magic, specters, demons, and ghosts in a form which did not relegate them to the

status of mythology but instead reveled in the possibility of their existence threatened the

emerging middle-class of female readers and could not offer what Mudge illustrates was the

selling point of realism: "the real artistic experience, that unsullied intercourse between authorial

genius and readerly taste" (98). Nineteenth-century realism offered a proper and sober

intercourse between reader and writer. It controlled the imaginative excesses of the gothic novel,

provided protection to its feminine readers, and "normalized female sexuality along middle class

lines" (94). The discourse surrounding the rejection of the gothic novel and the ascension of

realism involved concerns over normative sexuality and a desire to connect directly and properly

with the voices of the past.









Following the work of Chandler and Mudge, I argue that repetition, haunting, and doubling

intrudes upon and complicates the connection between the dead and the academic reader.

Biographical accounts of the Diodati event repeat the commonplaces of Mary Shelley's novel,

providing a picture of Romantic history that reawakens the imaginative excesses associated with

the threat of the gothic novel. The Diodati myth, rather than being a moment exclusively relayed

to contemporary audiences through sober realism, is punctuated by lurid references to ghosts,

curses, and uncanny coincidences. These references threaten the proper intercourse between

reader and writer with racy details, wild speculation, and tempting digressions. This section

argues that the gothic elements embedded in the Haunted Summer of 1816 emerge as uncanny

doubles of academic realism.

In the context of the Diodati story, lurid and sober history supplement one another: one is

inextricable from the other. As we will see, the Diodati story included gothic and uncanny details

from the beginning and used the desire for a historical explanation of Frankenstein to sell the

third edition of the novel. Since uncovering the fictional roots of Mary's introduction, sober

historicists have separated themselves from the myth. Most often they leave the telling of

Shelley's story to historical fiction writers, biographers, and filmmakers. The reluctance to tell

the story of Diodati, or to investigate its historical impact on the popularity of Frankenstein,

marks an uneasy relationship with the more gothic elements of Mary Shelley's introduction and

an anxiety with the ghosts that populate the boundaries between the writing of literary history,

historical fiction, and literary biography. "There has never been a scholar who really, and as

scholar, deals with ghosts," Derrida says in Specters ofMarx (11). The scholar's uneasy

relationship with the Haunted Summer of 1816 reflects uneasiness with the repressed ghosts of

mass culture lurking within the celebrated connection between the academic and the dead.









These ghosts of mass culture inhabit Mary Shelley's 1831 introduction to Frankenstein,

which was produced by the author to satisfy fans who desired an explanation for the creation of

the story. Mass culture inspired Mary's story, and it also gave Mary the incentive to exaggerate

some of its aspects in order to reproduce the excitement of reading Frankenstein for the first

time. The story of the novel's production had to be as horrifying as Shelley's novel. Shelley

relocates the dark laboratories of Geneva to Byron's Villa Diodati and a horrible rainstorm that

forced the writers to find shelter. Victor's experiments in animating dead matter are given real-

life counterparts in the discussions between Byron and Shelley over the famous scientist

Erasmus Darwin and the claims of galvanism. Mary relates her tale as part of an effort to explain

"How I, then a young girl, came to think of, and to dilate upon, so very hideous an idea?" (5).

Instead of sketching a woman singularly obsessed with images and ideas that are unworthy of a

young girl and highlighting her oddity, Mary locates the origin of her story in a series of

extraordinary yet relatable elements that culminate in a horrible dream.

The introduction begins with a dream in which Mary's imagination "unbidden, possessed

and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond

the usual bounds of reverie" (9). The form of the dream allows Mary to revel in its imagery

without carrying that imagery into her waking life, except in the form of a possession that

suggests she had little agency in writing the novel. The dream also convinces her audience that

she is not ordinarily engaged in such ghastly thoughts as reanimating the dead. The focus of the

story originates in the realm of dream: a common image frequently employed by Percy Shelley

to explain the fantastic images occurring in his own poetry. If the events in the novel seem too

imaginative for a young woman, Mary's introduction argues that they can be explained by

reference to the ideas discussed by her prominent masculine friends, the dark and suggestive









scenery of Byron's Villa, and their impact on her unconscious imagination. These culminate in a

dream whose vividness expands the bounds of her experience and spurs her to write the novel.

Her dream "so possessed my mind, that a thrill of fear ran through me, and I wished to exchange

the ghastly image of my fancy for the realities around" (9). The image of an exchange between

her dreaming and waking worlds is particularly important here. By including that economic

metaphor, Mary distinguishes between the sobriety of her waking life and the fantastic elements

of her dreaming life, which is embodied in her fiction. Mary is not able to "easily get rid of my

hideous phantom," until she thinks to use the horror to write her ghost story and "frighten my

reader as I myself had been frightened that night!" (9). Mary's dream becomes tethered by the

demands of fiction. She uses fiction to shift from her gothic dream to her proper waking life and

back again. Even as they retain the same atmosphere as Shelley's novel, the events recounted by

Mary in the introduction serve as an anchor for their more fantastic elements. These events serve,

in the introduction of Frankenstein, as a double for the events of the novel.

However, the history surrounding the composition of Mary's novel is not as simple as

Shelley's introduction suggests. Frances Wilson has shown in a close reading of the diaries of

John Polodori, Byron, and the Shelleys, that there was no consensus regarding the events of the

haunted summer (170). Polodori's account gets much of the biographical material completely

wrong, including Percy Shelley's age and the fact that Claire had a relationship with Byron not

with Percy. In each of the accounts, a different group of people engages in the conversation

involving the possibility of using electricity to animate dead matter. Mary acutely remembers a

conversation between Byron and Shelley. Polodori says that it was between himself and Byron.

Claire, meanwhile, asserts that the conversation was between Polodori and Shelley. Wilson even

places the originality of Byron's suggestion that they each compose ghost stories under question









by noting the first few pages of Phantasmagoria, which tells its readers to "relate a story of

ghosts" (167). Instead of being an idea of Byron's, the famous "ghost story" competition was a

double of the events of the novel, and existed rhetorically as yet another of the series of narrative

introductions (including Robert Walton's letters to his wife and the story of Walton speaking to

the dying Victor Frankenstein) to the novel proper. Wilson argues that the haunted summer is, in

fact, a ghost story used to frame Frankenstein.

More contemporary biographies recounting the Diodati event perpetuate this fabrication by

embedding their stories in cliches that circulate the basic elements of gothic literature. The gothic

demands of narrative shape the historical understanding of 1816, yet many books that attempt to

reproduce the events of the Haunted Summer are mocked for inaccuracy. Radu Florescu's

attempt to reconstruct the events of Diodati in the 1975 biographical history In Search of

Frankenstein with help from Alan Barbour and Matei Cazacu was met with mockery by the

academic establishment. Jan Perkowski's piece on the book for the journal Slavic Review argues

that the biography "holds no professional interest," suggesting that it "is not a book of literary

criticism, history, folklore, or even cinematography; and it is certainly not a detailed

psychological analysis of 'fetus envy.' Although it contains bits of all these features, it is

basically a travelogue, a sentimental journey" (585). Perkowski is most uneasy with the author's

speculative nature, his choice to prove most of his assertions based on circumstantial evidence

and what Florescu calls "historical insight" (58). It is the more racy details, the discussion of

"eighteenth century androids" and the suggestion that Mary Shelley knew that a Frankenstein

family actually lived, which disturbs Perkowski most (58). Florescu uses an intuitive method for

constructing literary history, and because much of this history is mired in speculation and

"insight," the serious historian rejects it outright. My point here is not to valorize speculation









above serious research, but to suggest that Florescu's book provides insight on the discursive

reception of the Diodati myth and the reaction of the academic to the more fantastic aspects of

the myth. In constructing his intuitive history, Florescu injects elements of the gothic into Mary's

story.

In a particularly vivid example of the gothic elements operating in the text, Florescu

describes the demonic weather occurring in Geneva during the night of the reading of

Phantasmagoria:

Let us imagine the evening of June 16th: outside the rain and wind are pounding against
the tall windows overlooking the veranda, lightning is marching over the lake, and thunder
echoes in the mountains. At Diodati, everyone huddles in the main living room, around the
fireplace-waiting for a cue. (118)

Florescu then describes the juxtaposition between the raging storm outside, the reading of the

ghost story, Byron's recitation of Coleridge's Christabel, scientific descriptions of galvanism,

and the work of Erasmus Darwin. Florescu places these elements into a story whose background

is already unusual. The American northwest, New England, and the Canadian Maritimes were

covered in ice and snow. Crops froze in the middle of the summer, snowstorms killed several

people, a food shortage in Europe resulted in riots, and red and brown snow blanketed Italy and

Hungary (118). Such a context lends the physical environment necessary to the composition of a

novel of horror, implicitly arguing that even the weather wanted to inspire Mary with visions of

terror required for the composition of Frankenstein.27

The author uses short dashes for dramatic pause, and then quotes from Polodori's diary

that shockingly describes the sudden breakdown of Shelley at the moment of Byron's recitation

of Christabel. Delighted at the overwhelming imagery of the diary, the author surmises that



27 For more information about the summer of 1816, see Henry and Elizabeth Stommell's Volcanic Winter: The Story
of 1816, the Year Without a Summer.









Coleridge wrote Christabel shortly after Mary Wollestonecraft died. Noting that Coleridge was a

friend of the Godwins, Florescu asks "is it to be wondered that Shelley, probably under the

influence of laudanum, should have left the room, terror stricken at seeing Mary's or her

mother's ghost?" (118).

By attempting an intuitive recreation of the events at the Villa Diodati, Florescu ends up

suggesting that Mary Wollestonecraft's ghost haunted Percy. Shrouding that ghost story in the

hallucinations of laudanum for the sake of partial realism, Florescu questions how much the

Diodati group participated in their own horror story and ends up mimicking the commonplaces

of the gothic genre. The scene attempts to invoke a sense of the uncanny, repetition, and

doubling. It thereby illustrates that the atmosphere mirrors both the dramatic scenery of

Christabel and the not yet written Frankenstein. Shelley's novel acts as a ghostly retelling of an

event that, according to the authors, really happened. Conversely, this event performs an act of

prophecy and dark foreboding. The subsequent chapter "A Summer's End," quickly turns to the

dramatic suicide of Polodori, the deaths of Mary's sister Fanny, the drowning of Percy's former

wife Harriet, the passing of all Mary and Percy's children save Percy Florence, and finally the

deaths of Percy and Byron themselves. Florescu's treatment of the haunted summer argues that

the writing of Frankenstein is not only reflective of the events experienced by Mary Shelley, but

also suggests that the novel's gothic inspiration might be responsible for the deaths of many in

the group. We are left to wonder how much the haunted summer prophesized the downfall of the

Diodati group and if, more horrifyingly, it did not cause their deaths. In Florescu's hands,

biography becomes a ghost story serving as a spectral double for Frankenstein by incorporating

the same gothic narrative elements as the novel. Gothic and uncanny elements frame the archival









evidence in the biography, creating a narrative in which history exists as a phantasmagoria of

coincidence and uncanny repetitions.

The Diodati event inspires phantasmic speculation, where supernatural forces do not

explain historical events, but their influence is not entirely ruled out. This method of analysis

blurs the line between fiction and history, indirectly suggesting that the uncanny influences the

production of scholarly and popular histories regarding the Diodati event. The uncanny is,

therefore, not simply a theoretical category but rather a repressed form of historical analysis that

emerges like the return of the repressed (if only due to the racy, intuitive nature of Florescu's

work). By repressing the gothic elements of this history, the academic can give up the ghost,

ontologize the remains of the past, and publish them as serious, sober, realist history.

The repressed form of historical analysis embodied in popular biography returns in

Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler' s The Monsters: Mary .\/el//le and the Curse of Frankenstein. The

narrative of the book uses historical sources but constantly slips into a gothic mode, where, like

Florescu's work, the whole of the Diodati circle's biography marches inexorably towards death

and destruction. The first sentence of the biography emphasizes the collision of the gothic and

history by arguing, "[i]t actually was a dark and stormy night" (3). The Hooblers move then to

fill out the individual reputations of each figure and sketch out the gothic evening. "Flickering

candles and burning logs in the fireplace provided the only light, other than the flashes of

lightning that abruptly illuminated the windows" (5). The Hooblers are so comfortable with the

gothic as a narrative device that it quickly takes over the biography. The introduction culminates

in the gothic intention of the biographers:

A dark star hung over all the brilliant young people who listened to Byron reading horror
stories that night. Though their futures seemed limitless, early deaths or stunted lives
awaited each of them. It almost might be said that the writing of Frankenstein placed a
curse on the lives of those who were present at its birth (5-6)









The Hooblers place the supernatural elements firmly in the realm of the "as if." In the

process, they highlight the uncanny elements of the biography. The Hoobler biography assumes

the role of historian, yet this historian also employs curses and prophecy to explain events. The

parade of qualifiers in the final sentence of the material quoted above ("almost might be said")

underline the biographer's role as historian while reconstituting the slight possibility for

supernatural elements to infect the historian's purpose. While the history of the Diodati event is

recovered through documents and first hand accounts in The Monsters, the theatricality of the

prose and its spectacular invocation of dark spirits, evil stars, curses, and monsters highlights the

occult expectations of those who read a gothic tragedy starring their favorite literary celebrities.

The mechanisms governing the Hooblers's narrative work portray their characters' history

with gothic elements that parallel Frankenstein. Mary Shelley is portrayed as the product of a

doomed marriage between her parents Mary Wollestonecraft and William Godwin.

Wollestonecraft dies giving birth to Mary Shelley. This fact shapes Shelley's life and, according

to the Hooblers, constantly reminds her that her own life began in death. She was "aware from

childhood that her birth was responsible for the death of her mother. This trauma and guilt would

be one of the central factors in her life, and would find an outlet in Frankenstein" (37). Mary's

horrifying beginnings force her towards her fate as an author. The Hooblers begin the biography

with a sense of fatalism, focused around the inevitable publication of Frankenstein and the sense

that Mary cannot help but be the focus of tragedy. She was born from tragedy, shaped by the

sense that she caused her own mother's death, and seemed fated for further misfortune. From the

beginning Mary is primed to be the main character of a gothic tragedy, as the Hooblers sketch

out the deaths of her children, her friends, and her family.









The short biographies of Percy Shelley, Clairemont, Byron, and Polodori set each of them

up as secondary characters in Mary's gothic romance. Percy is the dashing lover who is more

adventurous than faithful and whose inability to swim portends his final fate. Claire is the

anxious lover who quite probably had children with both Byron and Shelley. Byron is the

aristocrat whose desire to become the adventurous characters he portrayed in his poems forces

him to seek glory in the Greek fight for independence. His fear of losing his reputation as an

adventurer forces him to stay there, catch sick, and die. Finally Polodori is the jealous pseudo-

writer who, never able to finish his own works and shamed by his inability to become a famous

writer, dies by his own hand. The Hooblers finish his story by depicting a seance performed by

Polodori's nephew William Rossetti years after his life. After determining the identity of the

ghost, Rossetti asks the ghost "Are you happy?" The only response is two raps on the table,

which Rossetti interprets as "not exactly" (235). Polodori's final scene depicts him as a

dissipated apparition still loitering with his sorrow. Spiritualism, furthermore, becomes the way

to celebrate Polodori's contribution to literary history, as it gives Rossetti the ability to

understand the inner secrets of his uncle's relationship with Byron, the composition of The

Vampyre, and his most private thoughts after death.

The Monsters highlights a tension between the afterlife and celebrity by focusing on the

remnants of its primary characters after their death and linking those remnants with the mourning

of those they left behind. The Hooblers achieve this tension most when they recount the

postmortem reconstruction of Percy Shelley's literary estate by his wife. They set this story

around the claims made by various members of the Diodati group for Shelley's body-parts after

his cremation. Byron, according to the Hooblers, had wished to retain Shelley's skull after his

death. Edward Trelawny, however, remembers Byron's habit of drinking wine out of skulls and









so allows the head to be consumed by fire. Leigh Hunt had claimed Percy's heart, even though

Mary also wanted the heart. He gave it up only after Mary pleaded with him for a long period of

time. Mary keeps the heart in her writing desk for the rest of her life. By invoking this image of

a bereaved wife keeping the body parts of her deceased husband and wrestling them from the

iconoclastic hands of Byron and Hunt, the Hooblers demonstrate the degree to which Mary's

mourning for Percy reflects the desires and obsessions shared by Victor Frankenstein.

While the Hooblers do not simply accept the curse Frankenstein as historical reality,

analyzing the curse nevertheless provides a narrative that bridges the many events described in

the biographies of the Shelleys, Byron, and Polodori and also acts to explain a set of uncanny

experiences. The Hoobler biography traces literary history as the history of a curse. It

appropriates gothic commonplaces and the persistent myth of the curse to transform the uncanny

events of the haunted summer into a ghost story that acts as a double of the novel Frankenstein.

The story surrounding the creation of Frankenstein, for the Hooblers, focuses on "the mystery of

creation and its consequences, something that concerned-even, at times, tormented-all five of

the people at Villa Diodati. In their outsized passions, their remarkable talents, their distorted

personal lives, their never-satisfied yearning for love-they were all monsters" (323). By making

this connection between literature and biography, The Monsters highlights the uncanny

resonances between writing and life. It is the hyperbolic existence of the Diodati group that

transforms their memory-and their history-into a group of monstrous occurrences. The

Hoobler biography functions to produce that history, a history of hyperbole, into a gothic tale of

monsters and ghosts. To explore the mysteries of creation, the Hooblers-perhaps

unintentionally-emphasize the more mythic aspects of celebrity: the birth of Frankenstein out

of an unnatural summer and a haunting dream, tragedies surrounding Mary's conception that









characterize the overall tenor of her life, and the obsessions of Byron, Polodori and Percy leading

them fatefully to their deaths. The Hooblers portray literary celebrities as mythical creatures of

tragedy prone to phatasmagorias and tied to prophecy.

The Monsters and In Search for Frankenstein foreground the part the uncanny plays in the

creation of the literary past. The gothic elements in Florescu's intuitive treatment of the haunted

summer use phantasmic association to provide a bridge between the more unrealistic aspects in

Mary Shelley's introductory story and the historical artifacts that prove something in fact

happened in 1816. The Hoobler biography appropriates the same historical artifacts and diary

entries to trace a genealogy of the novel's curse upon its authors. In the hands of the biographer,

mourning becomes part of the act of reading and writing history. The biographies use repetition,

foreshadowing and doubling to suggest historical causation.

The strict separation between racy and sober history, by scholars interested in analyzing

the contexts out of which literature emerged, reinforces the academic's uneasiness with the more

uncanny aspects of exploring the past. While serious history rejects racy details in favor of the

more serious artifacts populating academic research, it does so by favoring an ideology of

academic productivity. It is the job of the literary historian to translate individual acts of

mourning into statements that can heighten their individual level of prestige and perpetuate an

industry filled with those interested in disseminating a productive academic conversation over

literary studies. Professors tend to their graduate student flock by making sure their research is

productive. Fans also reproduce, but this reproduction produces nothing but undisciplined

enthusiasm (in the eyes of academics who are used to published articles and scholarly books as

markers of a more scholarly productivity). The normalized productivity of the literary academic

is contrasted, in this way, to the undisciplined enthusiasm of the fan interested in knowing the









racy details of their favorite celebrities. By dividing racy from sober academic history, and the

serious historian from the one merely interested in lurid details, academics tell their fan-doubles

to keep the hideous progeny of their intercourse in the closet.

Ken Russell and the Ghosts of Celebrity

Ken Russell's underappreciated 1987 film Gothic provides a useful example of a film straddling

the line between sober and racy history. While heavily utilizing historical details to tell its story,

Russell nevertheless crafts a tale more suited to the horror genre than proper literary history. The

Diodati group is depicted as not constructing stories but conjuring monsters, contributing to the

history of the occult rather than the history of letters. Gothic is campy, and overacted. Its

juxtaposition of gothic elements onto historical fact verges on the sublime and the grotesque.

Russell's film deconstructs the line separating gothic, racy memorialization and sober history,

leaving its audiences-fan and academic alike-confused about the history surrounding the

summer of 1816.

It is not difficult, in this context, to see why neither film critics nor Romanticists know

what to do with Russell's campy invocation of the British Romantic period. Rick Albright's

short review of the film written first for the NASSR listserv then published on the online journal

Romantic Circles, not only condemns the film for its "twisted vision" that "does more than a

little violence to the events of that fateful summer," but notes that to write a review of the film at

all risks "being driven off the list." Albright's comment was probably tongue-in-cheek, but it

also signals the amount of vitriol many Romanticists associate with Russell's film. Film critics

were baffled by it. Donald J. Levitt called the film "talky without saying anything, unconvincing,

and even lacking the self-indulgent filmmaker's usual energy." Levitt lambasted the film for its









historical inaccuracies, cheap soundtrack, and complete oversimplification of the reason Mary

Shelley began work on Frankenstein.28

The rejection of Gothic by Romanticists and film critics signal the investment both have in

a sober theory of history and the proper representation of iconic literary figures. Russell's film

oeuvre, in general, rejects both historical realism and proper representation. In a 2005 interview

with John Tibbetts, Russell explains that it is the artistic side of the biopic that interests him. For

Russell, the majority ofbiopics

seemed like nothing more than nonsense to me. I didn't associate them with art or music.
You hear the word 'biopic' used a lot these days. It's become a cliched term. I think some
filmmakers think it's an easy thing to do, but it's not. Too often you never get a sense of
the art, just people in costumes doddering around. I'm not so interested in the physicality
of it all, but the spiritual, and poetic, and creative side of the subject. (40)

Russell has demonstrated his preference of the artistic side of the biopic over the historical and

the physical in several of his features. In The Devils (1971), for example, Russell's use of Derek

Jarman's starkly ahistorical sets emphasizes the entombment felt by the inhabitants of Loudun.

Jarman and Russell forsake historical accuracy for providing a visceral sense of the mania

surrounding the execution of Urbain Grandier. Russell's Mahler (1974) likewise foregoes

historical realism and focuses instead on an allegorical and musical interpretation of the

composer's life-structuring his biography around the themes of his music. Lisztomania (1975)

chronicles the life of its titular character in a series of scenes that are akin to rock videos, and

28 While the filmmaker is not entirely devoid of attention, recent criticism of Ken Russell is scarce. Notable
exceptions include the work of John Tibbetts, about whom I will talk later, Barry Keith Grant's article "The Body
Politic: Ken Russell in the 1980s," and Anna Powell's Deleuze, Altered States, and Film. Grant reads Russell's work
in the 80s as a response to Thatcherism that "both embraces [...] and resists" its neo-conservatism" (183). Powell
uses the opening scenes of Russell's filmAltered States (1980) to explore Deleuze's film theory and articulate the
experience of the cinematic as an alteration of consciousness. Russell was covered in a number of works from the
1970s including John Baxter's An Appalling Talent: Ken Russell, Colin Wilson's Ken Russell: A Director in Search
of a Hero, Joseph Gomez's Ken Russell: The Adaptor as Creator, a collection of essays edited by Thomas R. Atkins
titled simply Ken Russell, Diane Rosenfeldt's Ken Russell: a guide to references and resources, Gene Philips's Ken
Russell, and Ken Hanke's Ken Russell's Films. Joseph Lanza has completed a new biography of Russell called
Phallic Frenzy: Ken Russell and his Films which provides little criticism of individual movies, while providing
interesting insight into their production.









climaxes in a vision of its virtuous rock star Liszt dive-bombing the vampiric anti-Semitic

Wagner into oblivion with his angelic fighter plane powered by the harmonious melodies of past

lovers.

Tibbetts has shown that such eccentric visions of the artistic possibilities of the

documentary and biopic genres caused strife in Russell's early career at the BBC. For a

documentary on Prokofiev (1961), Russell wanted to use a real dancer to illustrate the power of

the composer's music. While the BBC allowed Russell to take scenes from Sergei Eisenstein's

October (1927) to add to the film, they refused to have a living actor in the documentary. Later

on, Tibbetts recounts, an actor was allowed to portray the aging composer Bartok in a

documentary with the same name. The actor, however, could not voice any lines. It wasn't until

1965's The Debussy Film that Russell was allowed to use an actor to indirectly portray the

composer Claude Debussy. In order to get around the BBC's reticence to use actors, Tibbetts

notes, Russell used Oliver Reed to portray an actor portraying Debussy (167-8). By making a

film about film, Russell injects the fictional into the historical, but does so to protect his film

from the BBC's injunctions against using fiction in documentary features. The Debussy Film

replaces the haunted voice of the dead composer with Oliver Reed's voice, splitting the past from

its source and highlighting the dependence of performance on the construction of historical

narratives.

Gothic merges Russell's interest in artistry with his concern about the filmic production of

history, but does so in a way that provides a critique of historical realism. Russell's film links the

compulsive pathology of mimetically reconstructing the past-embraced by both the fan and the

scholar-with the mourning of the celebrity poet. It also deploys the uncanny to provide a

critique of literary reproduction: the sense that producing literary works will secure the perpetual









memory of the author. By analyzing the relationship between the image of the literary celebrity,

tourism, and memory, the film illustrates the place of mythology in the construction of history.

By meditating on the uncanny nature of celebrity painting and portraiture, Russell suggests that

the dissemination of the celebrity's haunted image invades the historical foundation of any realist

representation of the past. Rather than being an expose of the haunted summer of 1816 as a

historical event, Gothic analyzes the desire to enter the private lives of literary celebrities and

gain control of their afterlives.

Russell doubles accepted histories by framing his film neither with academics discussing

the importance of the haunted summer to the publication of Frankenstein, nor with the authors

themselves, but instead with tourists fantasizing about what could have happened in Byron's

home in 1816. The framing of Russell's film around tourism allows him to place the entire film

in the realm of fantasy and desire, demonstrating how both impact the construction of literary

history. The first scene focuses on a series of overlapping gazes moving from a house rented by

Byron's fans, to the Villa Diodati and back onto a lake surrounding the villa. The quick shots

produce a rhythm of gaze, expectation, and the unknown that frames its analysis of mourning

and desire. Initially, we are met with Byron's fans dressed in drab, monotonous clothing. Their

only source of excitement stems from the chance to see Byron emerging from his home.

Russell's first shot focuses on a small group of fans with their tour guide. Before long, Russell

cuts away to a second story of the house, showing that there are many more who long to see and

to be intimate with Byron. The fans are extremely important to Gothic, and they show up in

several of the scenes as an almost invisible background to the events happening inside. Russell's

use of costume in this first scene emphasizes the lack of individuality among the fans. The fans









search for this individuality in Byron who, as we move further into the film, is always portrayed

in colors contrasting sharply with the background.

Russell's first few shots align the audience with the desires and the frustrations of the fans.

While Russell returns to the first establishing shot again and again, portraying the fans taking

turns looking into the telescope, he suggests that the true gaze depicted in the film is that of the

audience itself. This audience is locked into the shot by Russell's use of iris shots to simulate the

experience of looking into the telescope. Russell's use of the two iris shots allows the audience

to identify themselves with the tourists at the beginning. These shots, along with the seeming

vacuity of the tourists and their drab clothing, make it quite apparent that their only place in the

film is to serve as a stand-in for the film audience. While the substance of the story focuses on

the Diodati group, it is always framed by the inconsequentiality of the fans. In a later scene,

Polodori briefly mentions the fans and puts two champagne glasses to his eyes to suggest their

telescopes. Shelley remarks that they should not be "wicked," due to the fact that the group is

being watched. Byron replies that they should, on the contrary, "blind them with their

wickedness." The presence of the fans in the first scene actually impacts the events at Diodati,

and the reality of what happened in Byron's house is inextricable from its existence as an object

of the fan's gaze. The tension between the central story and its framing device serves as a

backbone to the events of the film.

This tension has several consequences in this first scene. As Russell locks the audience's

gaze with the iris shots, he also provides us with a shot of one of the fans looking through the

telescope. The telescope juts into an extreme close up, with its shaft protruding back into the eye

of one of the fans (Figure 4-1).


























Figure 4-1. Erecting the Telescope (2:35).

The phallic nature of the telescope is hardly difficult to notice. It is just off center in the shot, and

the two-thirds profile highlights its length and its erect position. A particularly desperate tour

guide takes advantage of the sexually charged situation by placing his hand onto one of the fans

and lightly grazing her breast. He says "bedroom, top right," rolling the final "r," and licks his

lips as the female fan looks for Byron. The telescope pierces the Byron home and leads us, via a

cut from the shot of the fans, to the bedroom. As the audience is aligned with the iris shot, the

fan with a sexual desire to pierce the Byron bedroom, and the tour-guide with a desperate desire

to leech off of the mania of the fan, Russell shows us that the desire to understand Byron's inner

life is related to a desire to penetrate him. The celebrity is made into a passive recipient of the

fan's sexual energy, its ultimate desire being to physicalize the largely image-mediated

experience of Byron. The fans want to make Byron flesh and dominate him with their phallic

gaze.

While we do not see the fans again until the final scene of the film (this time in their

twentieth-century incarnation), the first scene provides the audience with a disjunction between

the image-like phantom of Byron available for commercial consumption and the "reality" of









Byron as an ultimately inaccessible figure. Byron's very inaccessibility focalizes the rest of the

film and titillates the desire of the fans to truly know Byron. The gaze impacts the actions of the

Diodati group later on in the film, yet it can never adequately fix the authors. Gazing gives the

audience nothing but a string of automatons, actors, and stand-ins for Byron himself.

The second iris shot features a figure in the window of Byron's bedroom that acts as his

first stand-in (Figure 4-2). Presumably, this figure is Byron.



















Figure 4-2. Byron?! (2:40).

Anyone who sees the rest of the film, however, knows it is actually John Polodori: Byron's

doctor and biographer. Russell replaces Byron with Polodori in this shot to place the tour-guide's

knowledge of the poet in doubt. For all his posturing, the tour guide (like us) does not really

know who Byron is. Russell's iris shots of Byron's bedroom also suggest that the window is a

portal to Byron's world. Deborah Lutz has suggested that Byron acts culturally as an unbounded

subjectivity "containing everything" and thus "can decimate all of it, hence dwelling in and

interiorizing nothingness in all its vastness" (57).29 The expectation of seeing Byron eclipses


29 Lutz refers, specifically, to the structure of the Giaour, and to the sense that the Byronic hero fails to encounter
otherness as a traveler without interiorizing that otherness.









everything for the fans in the first scene. Byron acts to exteriorize the self, to transform the world

into "Byron," and to thus destroy otherness by focusing all desire upon himself. By replacing

Byron in this first glimpse into the bedroom, Russell transforms the power of his cultural aura

into a flat image that can be inhabited by anyone-including Polodori. The lack of knowledge

about Byron's appearance furthermore throws the truth of the entire film into doubt, and

buttresses Russell's interest in artistic flamboyancy as a tool to investigate history rather than be

bound by the cultural power of Byron's celebrity biography.

The disjunction between Byron and his image is repeated in the next shot. The camera

focuses on a close-up of a figure's back looking outside the portal/window, with a dark high

contrast between the inside of Diodati and the lake outside (Figure 4-3). The confusion of the

















Figure 4-3. Byron's back? (2:44).

earlier shot is heightened by a strange voice who says "Oh look Polly, what a pleasant surprise!

Unexpected visitors." While Polly could refer to the parrot sitting by the mysterious figure, it

could also refer to "Polodori." "Polly" was a common nickname for the doctor and is frequently

used by Byrne's Byron in the film. Yet the voice sounds like neither Polodori nor Byron. The

camera fixes on this mysterious figure, with a more mysterious voice, and then zooms toward a









boat on the lake. This boat contains the other central characters of the story: Claire Clairemont

and Percy and Mary Shelley. It is the figure's monocle that acts as a zoom lens, providing a

diegetic complement to Russell's camera.

The lens, in this first scene, mediates knowledge of the events occurring inside Diodati.

This scene transforms historical knowledge into spectacle, literary celebrities into images pierced

and then consumed by telescopic lenses, and the substance of history into an imagistic phantom

whose reality is fueled by fantasy. Getting to the central events of the story involves moving

through a set of gazes. By utilizing the confusion of these gazes, the first scene radically

questions the realism of all events occurring in the movie and presents the knowledge of Diodati

by the fans as always indirect and incomplete.

The final scene inverts some of the assumptions of the first scene, but nevertheless

recuperates the emphasis on incomplete knowledge that frames Russell's film. The visual

fantasies of the first scene are replaced with tourists whose identities are unknown, who listen to

a bodiless voice, and who shuffle easily into and out of Byron's home. While the fans of the first

scene travel from Britain to see Byron and to be close to his celebrity, the tourists of the final

scene visit Diodati as an empty tomb. The fantasy of making Byron flesh is replaced with an

overwhelming sense of mourning that hollows out Diodati as a space of fantasy. The fan yearns

for Byron's presence, while the tourist memorializes his lost presence. Before moving to the

present day, Russell presents us with a final, pensive, mid close-up shot of the Diodati group.

The mock happiness of the group contrasts with Mary's visions of their deaths in an earlier

scene. Byron assures Mary, naively, that "ghosts do not come out in the day." Fading in the

transition between scenes and becoming the very ghosts that Byron represses with his delusional

happiness, the image of the Diodati group gives way to a modern day version of the same shot.









Russell replaces the figures of the poets with those of tourists visiting the villa in the late

twentieth century. He also uses a continuity shot to bridge the past with the present, and to

seemingly erase all of the phantasmic problems he introduced in the first scene.

The final shots present the same problems as the first scene. This time, the tourists are

largely invisible and the scene meditates on the disappearance of the poets. Instead of iris shots,

Russell shoots several points of view moving between a ship floating on the lake surrounding

Byron's home and the fields in front of the villa. In each one of these shots, we are separated

from the identities of the tourists inhabiting the scene. The first shot of the tourists shows them

from the back as they move toward Byron's home. Russell's second shot of the tourists views

them from the side as they take photographs of the scene. The third and final shot depicts the

tourists from the first shot turning around and waving at the ship. These figures are, however, so

far in the background of Russell's shot that their faces are completely obscured. Instead of an

unknown object of fantasy viewed by subjects who are completely known, Russell's final scene

depicts a Diodati that has been completely opened and saturated by the tourist fantasies of the

first scene. These fantasies are made available to faceless tourists who approach its history as a

speech delivered by a bodiless voice.

The megaphone acts as the mediating object in this final scene, emphasizing the vacuity of

the historical knowledge it relays. The sense of visual alienation experienced in the first scene by

the tourists acting as living spectators is replaced by a machine whose voice tells history as a

story ready for quick consumption by the tourists. It delivers this history in a quaky voice-over

that summarizes the fates of the Diodati group:

Three years after that fateful night, Mary's son William was dead. Two more of the
Shelley children later died at birth. Shelley himself drowned at the gulf of Spezia in 1822.
That same year Allegra, Claire's daughter by Byron, also died. Byron survived her by two
years, dying of fever in the Greek war. His biographer, Dr. Polodori, committed suicide in









London. Eight years after the night at Diodati, only Claire and Mary remained alive. But
something created that night 170 years ago lives on, still haunting us to this day: Mary
Shelley's Frankenstein.

The simple, almost parodic voice listlessly names off a series of traumatic events, gliding over

the horror of death with a disconcerting apathy.

As the voice valorizes Mary Shelley's novel, the camera cuts away from the tour ship onto

a mid-close up shot of a dead baby floating under the lake surrounding Byron's home. This is

Mary's stillborn William, a figure appearing visually or alluded to several times in the movie.

The camera lingers on the dead baby, and then zooms in for a final shot (Figure 4-4).
























Figure 4-4. The corpse never decays (1:24:00).

The stillborn baby represents a kind of death passed over by the majority of proclamations about

death in the movie and by the distracted tourist culture whose variety of gazes cannot look

directly at the baby. Interestingly, Russell's invocation of the stillborn child is historically

inaccurate. Mary had no stillborn child. Her first child, as Anne Mellor points out in her









biography, was born two months premature (31). She survived a little under a month. It is this

child Mary refers to in the introduction of Frankenstein.

However, the inaccuracy of Russell's use of the stillborn baby has larger implications for

the film's questions about literary persistence and survival after death. The voice-over by the

disembodied tour-guide suggests that the monster in the novel persisted despite the deaths of the

Diodati group. This reference to persistence mocks the faith both Percy and Byron express about

the immortality afforded to poets through their writing. In the dinner scene at the beginning of

the film, Byron mentions his obsession with imagining the changes death would make on the

faces of his lovers. Russell then cuts to a close-up of Claire with Byron in the background. Byron

squeezes Claire's cheeks, forcing the noodles she had previously been eating to spew out of her

mouth (Figure 4-5).

















Figure 4-5. Immortality in Putrefaction (10:01).

The noodles reflect the leeches and the worms whose presence signals death throughout the film.

Worms are crawling on the face of the dead knight feared by Mary in her imagination during the

reading of Phantasmagoria. Polodori replaces the rice in Byron's late night snack with leeches,

much to the horror of the poet. And in the final scene Mary has a vision of Byron's death,









leeches used to bleed him crawling all over his body. The worm and the leech threaten the poet's

pristine account of immortality. The Byronic poet feeds upon the health and beauty of the young

and transforms their features of health into those of death and decay. "Immortality is for poets,"

Byron proclaims, looking at Percy in an unvoiced moment of literary solidarity.

Russell's choice to close the movie with the still dead, but perpetually preserved, baby

forces its powerful image into this discourse of survival. The baby signals the flotsam of literary

creation, the remains of the dead author haunting the discourse of immortality voiced by Byron

in the past, and the literary tourism of the present. The dead baby is the refuse of literary

creation. As an inert object, the baby complicates many of the hermeneutics of memory

presented in the film. In the opening scene, memory is a product of the gaze, film, and,

tangentially, photography. In the closing scene, memory is mediated by the monological voice of

the bodiless tour guide. The preserved corpse floating at the end of the film weighs memory

down and anchors it to the stillness of death. The perfect immortality promised as the product of

literary creation has turned to its uncanny opposite: a being who dies at the moment of birth,

whose death is its birth. The child, as the stillborn offspring of Mary, is revealed as the repressed

double of literary culture. To create the most reproductive book in literary history, Mary's first

child had to be stillborn and encrypted into the characters and sentences making up the novel.

While the tourists seek a passing knowledge of the literary past, the stillborn baby is passed over

as the effluvia of literary culture: the unencountered undead excess of literary writing.

It is the confrontation with this excess, or repressions of that confrontation, that structures

the logic of Russell's attitude toward historical realism in the film. As he interpenetrates

biography and history, Russell also transforms the telescope and the painted portrait into the

photograph and the film camera by suggesting that the canny aspects of painting become the









uncanny aspects of film and vice versa. Russell portrays the camera as an extension of

nineteenth-century portraiture, linking the dissemination of celebrity during the Romantic period

with its manifestation in the film celebrity of the twentieth-century.30 By focusing so much on

the juxtaposition of painted image with that of film, Russell is able to displace Gothic from

claims to historical accuracy and focus instead on the visual production of celebrity and its ties to

death and mourning.

According to Laura Mulvey, the invention of film and photography was closely linked to

the rise of spiritualism and the popularity of the stage magician in the late 19th century.

Photography provided people with the opportunity to view loved ones after their death, which

profoundly defied the laws of nature and suggested to some people that the dead could persist

after their demise:

The uncanny and other of the phantasmagorias, in which technology and lingering
superstition had been so closely entwined, was recast in rather different terms. The
photograph actually preserved, mechanically, a moment of life stopped and then held in
perpetuity. [...] [T]he photograph was the descendent of the 'natural magic' shows of
Kircher's and della Porta's camera obscura. (45-6)

Photography and film both conspired to provide an illusion of life where life had ceased to be.

While the realism of the photographic image allowed it to give the impression of life, the

photograph also produced-as Kojin Karatani has argued-a fundamental split in the image

produced by the photograph and the sense of a self-image existing independently of its

representation.31 Photography divided life and its image from themselves in the act of

preservation.



30 For a good consideration of the role portraiture played in the dissemination of celebrity in the nineteenth century,
see Tom Mole's account in Byron's Romantic Celebrity.

31 See Karatani's Transcritique, where he uses Kantian terminology to argue that the photograph's claim to
objectivity is much more severe than that of either looking at a painted portrait or seeing one's reflection.









The audience's introduction to Byron in Russell's film underscores this splitting of the

image from itself, suggesting that painted art has the same power as photography to inspire the

sense of doubling. Russell's first shot of Byron places him in front of his own portrait. Byron is

doubled, with the painted portrait acting to preserve his image (Figure 4-6).

















Figure 4-6. Byron on Byron/Byrne on Byrne (5:14).

The portrait hanging on the wall is, oddly enough for the professional Romanticist, not painted to

look like the historical Byron but instead reflects the features of Gabriel Byrne. For audiences

who do not know Byron's image intimately-namely those who do not study Byron-the

portrait would simply confirm the authenticity of Byrne's portrayal of the poet. It seems, on one

level, to heighten the overall realism of the film. For those who already know Byron's many

portraits; however, Russell's decision to base the image on Byrne's features only confirms that

Byrne looks nothing like Byron. The unveiling of Byrne's image on what would otherwise be

considered Byron's portrait, thus divides the audience in two. Those looking for historical


Even though there is always a photographer, his or her subjectivity is less influential than the painter's, for
there is an ineradicable, mechanical distance in the photographic image. Strange as it may be, we cannot
see our faces (read thing-in-itself), except as an image reflected in the mirror (read phenomenon). And only
thanks to the advent of photography, did we learn that fact. (48)









accuracy are, in the first five minutes of the film, disappointed. Those who, on the other hand,

are already convinced of its reality as a guide into history, look past the problems and enjoy the

movie as a literary fantasy.

The faulty image of Byrne's Byron sketches a history divided and alienated from itself,

providing the dark underside of the ontologicall conundrums" argued by film theorists such as

D.N. Rodowick as a primary locus of photography's uncanniness. Photography, according to

Rodowick, is a transcription of history while painting is merely a representation of the past. For

him, following a well-worn tradition of scholarship beginning with Roland Barthes, the

photograph fixes a duration of time onto a photosensitive plate and, as such, remains a physical

and indexical artifact of that duration. The photograph is a direct artifact of the past it depicts

(Rodowick 55-6). Russell's disdain for historical realism is expressed, on the other hand, by his

utilization of painting as an anchorless archive of a past that perhaps never existed. Detached

from its original state of being as history, painting is unmoored by Russell to invade the realms

of the living.

Russell depicts the power of painting in the film by forming each of the Diodati group into

portrait-like poses and merging painted portraits with several of his shots. The first encounter

between the Shelleys and Polodori, shown soon after we see Byron for the first time, displays the

latter's awkwardness and his desire to be the subject of a celebrity portrait. Polodori displays an

austerity that is quickly juxtaposed by Russell with a goat-one of Byron's animal menagerie-

walking in front of the troubled physician. When Percy dies, Russell forms a shot of his

cremation that recalls Louis Fournier's 1889 painting "The Funeral of Shelley."

































Figure 4-7. Shelley's Cinematic Death. (1:18:55).

The portraits presented in the background of Russell's movie, constructed out of individual shots

of the camera, provide a curious conjunction of the diegetic world in which Gothic resides and

the historical images it continually displays. The fact that the images lead to no better

understanding of the history surrounding the events at Diodati show that Russell has little interest

in the concerns of living history. The proliferation of portraits, in fact, forces the Diodati group

into a confrontation with death and sexuality, deflating the belief of Percy and Byron in an

immortality secured by history and transmitted through their literary offspring. Russell's parade

of aesthetic doubles suggests that these pictures might not produce any history at all. Literary

portraits are sterile in the film, and literary history a parade of discarded remains signifying

nothing.









The scene involving Mary's confrontation with Fuseli's The Nightmare is the visual

apotheosis of Russell's merging of photography with painting. As Maryanne Ward argues, the

themes of Fuseli's painting have analogues in Frankenstein and served to inspire Elizabeth's

death scene in the novel. Russell, however, abandons this historical information entirely and

introduces Mary to the painting when she arrives at Byron's villa. Several scenes are shot with

the Fuseli painting hanging harmlessly in the background, completely separate from the events

occurring to the Diodati group. Yet only when Mary confronts Byron's libertine sexuality does it

become central to the film's narrative. The Fuseli painting penetrates the diegetic boundaries of

Russell's film and threatens to dominate the orderly unfolding of filmic temporality with a

completely unproductive sexuality suggesting a threat both to Mary's conservative attitude

toward lovemaking and the promise of immortality through the literary work as autographic

offspring.

Russell begins the scene with Mary attending to her sister, who had been overcome in a

seance. The camera cuts to a close-up of Mary flipping through a book of erotica. Thunder

crashes in the background, and Russell employs sinister music to suggest Mary's growing sense

of unease. The film then cuts to an extreme close-up of a sketch of Byron, inserted into the book.

Mary focuses on the Byron sketch for a moment, then removes the drawing to reveal the lurid,

erotic picture of a man pleasuring a woman by fondling her (Figure 4-8). The woman is stretched

out on the bed and the man towers over her. She gently caresses Byron's picture, then quickly

shuts the book.


































Figure 4-8. Byron as Fuseli (40:04).



Russell shifts between close-ups of an uneasy Mary and a long shot of Fuseli's painting, slowing

zooming into a closer shot of the image (Figure 4-9). Curiously enough, the Fuseli image is not

the original, but instead a reproduction made for the movie. Even while suggesting the uncanny

aura of Fuseli's painting, Russell provides us with a stand-in, a double, a reproduction. The

posture of the woman lying prone on a bed, and an imp towering atop her, reflect those in the

erotica book. The camera then focuses entirely on the imp before quickly shifting to a shot of

Mary lying on the bed in the same position as the woman in Fuseli's painting (Figure 4-9).
























B

Figure 4-9. Painting haunts film in A) Russell's reproduction of Fuseli's The Nightmare (40:48).
B) Film version of Fuseli in Mary's dream (40:56).

The imp stands in for Byron's sexuality as a seductive force of annihilation. Instead of

conceiving a baby from Percy and raising it to adulthood, Mary is overcome by the imp's power,

subjected to his whims, and is completely powerless to halt his advances. The imp's power to

dominate reflects Byron's power over women, a power Mary felt while reading the erotica book.

Furthermore, its demonic and uncanny nature reflects-at least for Mary-Byron's refusal to

claim his familial progeny: a dark nothingness at the center of his distinctly unproductive

sexuality. Contrasting with Mary's inability to raise a child and her desperate attempt to bring

that child back from the dead, Byron is portrayed in the movie actively rejecting the child

growing in the pregnant Claire.32 In one particularly intense scene, Byron visits the prone Claire

and gives her cunnilingus while Polodori stabs his hand with a nail in an adjoining room. Byron


32 This characterization of the male as transgressive and the female as more conservative is a fairly recurring trope in
Russell's films. Even where the female is more transgressive, Russell's films appropriate them into more
conservative roles by the end of the film. In Crimes ofPassion (1984), Kathleen Turner plays a woman who has a
prostitute secret identity named China Blue. Yet her transgressive sexuality is clearly outmatched by the Reverend
Peter Shayne (played by Anthony Perkins) who is a preacher driven to sexual violence and who carries a sharp
metallic vibrator he nicknames "the Superman." In Lair of the White Worm (1988), feminine sexuality is focused
around a mythological creature named the D'ampton Worm. Hugh Grant plays the masculine aristocrat who is
charged with killing the worm. While the worm uses feminine sexuality to charm her victims, Grant's masculinity is
forced to destroy the threat to heterosexuality the worm represents.









emerges from pleasuring Claire with blood trickling down his lips, suggesting that he had

performed an oral abortion. Both the director and the audience, however, know that Claire is still

pregnant. Russell portrays one of Mary's visions focusing on the future Allegra dying in a

convent years later. Yet it is the suggestion that Byron cares very little for his biological

offspring and is more concerned with his literary reputation that forms the most distinct contrast

between him and Mary. Byron represents to Mary a sexuality that is not productive and leads to

nothing. Fuseli's painting, as an extension of Byron's nihilistic sexuality, mocks Mary's stillborn

child and threatens the heteronormative production of children with nothingness and death.33

The painting also reduces literary history to pure gothic spectacle, as Mary is forced to

enter the fictional, flat and spectacular world of the painting and is held hostage by the

composition. The depth of the film's claim to material indexicality and the historian's claim to

historical indexicality are both challenged by the now uncanny state of the painting as pure, flat,

spectacle. Martin Myrone argues that Fuseli's work became popular in the late eighteenth

century due to its ability to instantaneously attract the eye with spectacle reducing "the exercise

of aesthetic judgment of a kind of dream-state" which "goes beyond-and potentially

undermines-the conventional subjective experience of narrative" (308-10).34 Fuseli's work,

according to Mynrone, was known to send people into a state similar to those of the incoherent

spectacles embodied in the Phantasmagoria. Instead of deep contemplation, Fuseli's painting

instantaneously excited the eye with its grotesque creatures and lighting effects reflecting the


33 In one of the most obviously queer moments of the film, Percy Shelley kisses Lord Byron after defending him
from Mary. While heterosexuality is reserved for women, homosexuality in the film is an exclusively male
enterprise.
34 Myrone's essay "Henry Fuseli and Gothic Spectacle" also reveals that the artist was frequently referred to as a
"wizard" in a cultural climate that feared the reduction of art to pure spectacle. In a particularly interesting episode,
Brooke Boothby-a man who owned Fuseli's The ."i,,,h .. -"organized an elaborate gothic masquerade [...]
which involved the Swiss painter's donning a wizard's costume, taking up a wand, and tramping around the woods
to participate in a series of carefully planned adventures" (309).









exaggerated, anti-realist scene descriptions in gothic novels (295). In Russell's film, Fuseli's

painting suspends both cinematic and historic temporality by collapsing one in the other. Mid-

shots of Fuseli's composition mimic the gothic spectacle of The Nightmare on film, replacing the

painted composition with a filmic take. In a brief moment in Mary's nightmare, it is no longer

possible to distinguish the artistic from the historical, dream-state from waking-state, or life from

death. Russell's shot recreating Fuseli's composition places the entire film in the realm of

horrific spectacle, ignoring the demands of history and realism. Or, rather, the shot reduces film

indexicality to just another gothic spectacle.

Russell's sequence of shots in this scene halts the proper experience of cinematic

temporality by utilizing Fuseli's painting as a gateway between desire, fantasy, and reproduction.

The diegetic universe of Gothic tests the desire of Mary to propagate, both physically and

literarily, by marginalizing the discourse of both to brief moments in the film. None of the

authors mention writing anything until the end of the film, in which Polodori and Mary engage in

one tellingly short exchange about what they might write. Before the group decides to use their

imagination to conjure a monster in the early scenes of Gothic, Byron mentions that he does not

want to write a ghost story at all. Polodori says that it is obvious Byron is bored with poetry.

Byron quips back, "No sir, I am bored with life." Byron's aggressive response is a tad

disingenuous. The entire group, like Russell himself, seems bored with poetry and history.

Russell provides no scene of artistic production, no brief shot depicting Byron setting pen to

paper. Mary is never shown even jotting down the notes that would later bring Frankenstein to

life. A film purporting to examine the reasons why Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein depicts no

writing occurring at all.









It is in this sense that the fans and the tourists have their revenge on the academic in

Russell's film. By placing the story of Diodati in the context of tourism, Russell detaches its

discourse from sanctioned academic forms of history, creating a narrative that uncannily exposes

the fantasies of an audience that-for all its pretensions to the sobriety of history-still takes

pleasure in the racy story of 1816. As an unapologetic double to accepted academic history,

Gothic threatens the mimetic construction of literary history by questioning its discourses of

reproduction. It suggests that the author produces literary offspring and that this fact of

reproduction, along with the social and political contexts in which this reproduction occurred,

forms literary history as such. Russell provides very little to academics whose fantasies cause

them to pursue a more intimate relationship with the lives of dead authors. As a filmmaker all too

aware of the limitations imposed upon him by individuals valorizing history in the form of the

1960s BBC documentary films, Russell basks in the drunken Dionysian revelry of biopics and

documentaries that signify and produce nothing but enthusiastic mayhem and celebrity spectacle.

The Struggle for Academic Realism

I have argued that academic realism rejects the gothic nature of Russell's film in order to

define itself as a productive genre apart from the potent yet sterile chaos of popular and mass

connections to the Romantic celebrity. Academic realism is an extension of the literary idealism

voiced by Byron in Russell's film: both seek to demonstrate their special connection to literature

by a entering a discourse of reproduction. Academic realists point to critical productivity as a

marker of virility. Literary idealists point to their writing as carrying on their memory and

providing for their immortality. Now I examine how the bad academic, the double of the figure

demonstrating a special connection to the literary past, threatens the discourse of reproduction

and connection embodied in academic realism.









The controversy surrounding John Lauritsen's publication in 2007 of The Man Who

Wrote Frankenstein challenged the special connection of the literary academic to the dead due to

the author's lack of a fundamental post-graduate degree in English. Lauritsen is a maverick in the

gay rights community who has suggested that AIDS is not caused by the HIV virus, that AZT is

toxic and should not be prescribed to AIDS patients, and that butyl and isobutyl nitrate (known

on the street as "poppers") could cause Kaposi's Sarcoma. In his book on Frankenstein,

Lauritsen is equally provocative, arguing that Percy Shelley wrote the novel. Lauritsen suggests

that Mary Shelley could not have written Frankenstein due to her young age, her lack of a formal

education, and what Lauritsen sees as the inferiority of her other novels.

The truth of Lauritsen's thesis is not important to my study here. The suggestion that

Percy Shelley had written Frankenstein is not particularly new. Walter Scott, for instance, sensed

Percy Shelley's language in the novel when he wrote his review in 1818. It is largely accepted

that Percy adopted a marginal role in providing certain phrases to Mary when writing the first

draft. Charles Robinson, in a roundtable discussion with Lauritsen and Neil Freistat, said that

manuscript evidence suggests that at least "4,000 of the words were Percy Shelley's." Percy is

widely accepted amongst Romanticists as a collaborator in Mary's first book. Yet it is also clear,

from Robinson's analysis, further literary forensics done by Freistat and the extra-textual

statements made by Percy and Lord Byron, that Mary wrote most of the novel.35

More important is the challenge Lauritsen's book poses to the academy's special

connection to the ghosts of the past in the form of academic realism and its ability to mold the

next generation of scholars. Lauritsen argues in the book that so many academics still assume


35 Charles Robinson says thereee are probably two dozen references extra-textually where Byron says it's Mary's
novel, Claire Clairemont says it's Mary's novel, Leigh Hunt says it's Mary's novel, Marianne Hunt say's its Mary's
novel. So with all of that evidence, the extra-textual, I think it's very hard to argue otherwise that it was written by
Percy with only minimal intervention by Mary Shelley."









Frankenstein was written by Mary Shelley because they demonstrate an "inability to read-an

inability which, unfortunately, is all too common in academia, even among tenured Professors of

English literature" (26). If they open the book at all, Lauritsen suggests, academics do not have

the subtlety or the care to read the text as it was originally intended. Camille Paglia, herself a

controversial figure in the academic community, called Lauritsen's book "important not only for

its audacious theme but for the devastating portrait it draws of the insularity and turgidity of the

academic community." She added that she hopes the book "will inspire ambitious graduate

students and young faculty to strike blows for truth in our mired profession, paralyzed by

convention and fear." Paglia sees The Man Who wrote Frankenstein as an opportunity for

graduate students to overthrow their overbearing parents. Lauritsen and Paglia emerge from this

episode as twin harbingers of academic extinction: one threatens to separate academics from the

special connection they have with the past by questioning the authorial voice inhabiting

Frankenstein, the other from the special connection they have with the future by calling upon

graduate students to overthrow their conventional mentors.

The combined threat of Lauritsen and Paglia resulted in vitriolic reactions to The Man Who

Wrote Frankenstein. Most of these reactions, like Paglia's review, form their criticisms from the

impact such a text might have on the academic community. Germaine Greer is particularly

critical when she suggests that Lauritsen really hates radical feminists for silencing the discourse

of gay literature. For Greer, the idea that feminism displaces gay literature "is an odd

interpretation of the fact that women's studies is now gender studies and that queer theory is on

every syllabus, but some people are never satisfied." Academia one-ups its challenge from

Lauritsen by the very fact of its institutional being. Since queer theory exists, and queer theory

appropriates everything from feminism to gay literature, then Lauritsen is now less politically









progressive and less relevant than his doubles in academia because he hasn't adopted queer

theory over and above gay literature studies. Gay literature studies interrupts an academic

conversation that has already moved past whatever concerns Lauritsen may have over the

representation of gay authors in literary studies.

Jonathan Gross's review from The Common Reader engages in a more detailed textual

argument against Lauritsen, but he nevertheless frames his critique around the question of

Lauritsen's credentials and from the perspective of revisiting the dead. Paglia, after all, got a

degree from Yale and Greer from Cambridge. They are

in a different league than Lauritsen, whose profession is market research. After attacking
AIDS researchers, he has now lighted upon college professors. So he beats the dead horse
of literary attribution, turning his attention to the morally dubious task of disseminating (or
is it marketing?) faulty information. (9)

Lauritsen, according to Gross, injects the specter of marketing into the pristine environment of

academic scholarship. By linking marketing to faulty information, Gross suggests that

Lauritsen's background in market research threatens the objectivity of academic scholarship with

the corrupting influence of capitalism. Lauritsen is, furthermore, occupied with topics that are

dead to Gross. Gross's review characterizes Lauritsen as, again, interrupting an ongoing

academic conversation with an outdated topic. This time the figure of the dead horse injects a

more gothic element into Lauritsen's challenge. As an image of interruption, the faulty

information bound up in the dead horse haunts an ongoing academic conversation over the

meaning of Mary Shelley's novel. To beat a dead horse is to bring back the dead academic past,

to uncover buried topics and dead subjects and to challenge a separation between what is

accepted as productive literary scholarship and what is considered the decaying corpse of a once

relevant conversation entombed in the past.









I do not mean to suggest that academics should take Lauritsen seriously or start referring

to Percy Shelley as the author of Frankenstein. Lauritsen's book signifies, for me, the spectral

challenge of the bad academic who impedes the progress of scholarship by resurrecting topics

and political positions long thought to be buried. In contrast to Greenblatt's academic who

maintains a renewable and special contact to the dead by contributing to the academic

memorialization of the Romantic celebrity, Lauritsen's academic reanimates a reactionary

specter, a dead critical horse, and implies that current English professors have neither the ability

nor the care to attend to the literary past. The realism of the good academic attempting to secure

a connection to the dead and renew that connection by inspiring new students is displaced by the

gothic intrusion of a bad academic peddling the debris of outdated academic topics and seducing

students with visions of overthrowing their academic parents. But these distinctions never really

hold up. Lauritsen's bad academic has realist desires to establish a good connection with the

dead just as Greenblatt's good academic does not ignore the possibility of a bad connection.

Mary's historically inaccurate stillborn child, then, reveals not only the dead refuse underlying

the discourse of literary production, but also establishes a connection to the dead Romantic

celebrity that is constituted by junk, interruption, and unwanted or unauthorized ghosts.









CHAPTER 5
INCORPORATING THE ROMANTIC CELEBRITY: LITERARY ENCRYPTION, MARY'S
MELANCHOLY, AND SHELLEY JACKSON'S PATCHWORK GIRL

While Frankenstein enjoys one of the most famous literary afterlives in popular culture,

Mary Shelley's own appearances in film and contemporary fiction are not nearly as numerous as

her creation. With the exception of short roles in James Whale's Bride ofFrankenstein (1935)

and Roger Corman's Frankenstein Unbound (1990), appearances in films depicting the Haunted

Summer of 1816, and a few biopics about her seemingly more famous friends and lovers, Mary

Shelley hardly appears at all in popular films. The only explicit biopic about her life, Mary

.\l//lly (2004), was produced as a documentary for Canadian television and never released in

either the United States or Great Britain. In Mary Shelley's case, at least, the creator is not nearly

as important as the creation.

The popular marginalization of Mary recalls the sexist approach to Mary's afterlife in the

nineteenth century. Described most often as the "husband of Percy," or the "daughter of

Godwin," Mary appears as a domestic figure sacrificing her name and her place in literary

history for the preservation of someone else's memory. Henry Weekes's commissioned sculpture

of Mary Shelley cradling a dead Percy Shelley in a pose akin to Michaelangelo's Pieta

exemplifies Mary's secondary role. Mary is pictured leaning in, grabbing and cradling Percy's

dead body. The poet's dead body occupies the center of the sculpture's composition and

physically pushes Mary's body aside. Mary is pictured as a domestic mother for a masculine

Romantic tradition, whose support for the more famous male poets marginalizes her own

celebrity.

While academic criticism is focused on envisioning a Mary Shelley who is not simply the

wife of a dead poet, the figure of a silent and invisible caretaker of literature remains attractive to

those who see the decline of literature's centrality in English Departments. Marjorie Perloff has









argued that the contemporary English Department suffers from a lack of good caretakers for the

literary tradition. She notes that interdisciplinarity has become "other disciplinarity," and

suggests that literature has become little more than a window "through which we see the world

beyond the text" (654-5). Perloff imagines literature as a transparent figure for the content of

other disciplines. To preserve literary studies as a discipline, Perloff argues that we should

abandon our attachment to other fields and learn the "theoretical, historical and critical"

foundations of literature (662). By suggesting we abandon our attraction to the exotic lands of

other disciplines, Perloff simply replaces the idea of literature's transparency with the belief that

critics should learn the transparent foundations of the discipline. This suspiciously neo-

conservative move would replace Mary on Weekes's sculpture with the literary critic, who

would now become an invisible and ghostly support to a literature made transparent by the

disappearance of the interdisciplinary corpus. The promise of a return to literature acts only to

turn the academic into a ghostly support for a fantasized disciplinary identity.

Perloff, furthermore, imagines literature as an institutional manifestation of what I call in

this chapter literary encryption: a collection of literary ruins conjured into a cryptic body whose

closure attempts to secure the disciplinary memory of the dead against annihilation. The crypt,

according to Abraham and Torok, is the product formed by incorporating the Ego in an attempt

to preserve the memory of a love object against the destruction of the body. Reacting to a trauma

whose full impact cannot be articulated in language, the crypt also designates what the authors

call an enclave, a space where the love-object is preserved. Mourning that is inexpressible, in

other words "erects a secret tomb inside the subject. Reconstituted from the memories of words,

scenes and affects, the objectal correlative of the loss is buried alive in the crypt as a full fledged

person" (.\lh// andKernel 130). For Perloff, the maintenance of a disciplinary identity in literary









studies depends upon reclaiming a lost object of study and securing it as a stable base to argue

for continued institutional relevance. The secret tomb, for Abraham and Torok, is filled with the

dead who are kept alive and made into a person. For Perloff. However, the dead author is made

into a personality who can be continually accessed by criticism, history, and theory. The

academic is made into a guardian of the meaning of the literary celebrity. If Perloff seeks to

encrypt literary studies from the harmful influence of interdisciplinarity, I argue that the intended

effect of such an encryption is to reinstate the special connection between the Romantic celebrity

and the academic reader. Literary encryption thus involves both securing the discipline against

the harm of interdisciplinarity and reinforcing the connection with dead literary authors by

crafting a stable discipline to entomb their memory.

This chapter explores literary encryption by looking at the example of Mary Shelley. The

first section focuses on the critical and biographical invocation of melancholy in the construction

of Mary's literary personality. Mary's fictional writing is placed in a circuit with her diaries and

her journals to reinforce her characterization as a melancholic and control the discourse of her

disorder. Melancholy, furthermore, disciplines Mary Shelley's identity by encrypting her

personality in a critical corpus that can be examined and diagnosed. The critical disciplining of

Mary's melancholy constructs her personality as a tomb for consumption by academic and

popular audiences. The second section analyzes Shelley Jackson's appropriation of Mary Shelley

in Patchwork Girl (1995) as an investigation of the encryption of the literary in New Media.

Mary's gradual disappearance as a character reflects an outdated literary technology that has lost

its identity. Patchwork Girl is read, then, as a literary ghost inhabiting a computational machine:

the persistence and resurrection of literary discourse in Jackson's text suggests that it is haunted

by the silent ghost of Mary Shelley. Literature emerges as an encrypted body that has









disappeared, and whose decaying corpse is rewritten into hypertext as the meaningless signifier

of a past that has disappeared completely. Moving from the critical discourse surrounding Mary

Shelley to the appearance of Mary in a preeminent text of New Media studies, this chapter

argues that Jackson's hypertext reveals the symptom of Mary's literary encryption.

Mary Shelley in the Age of Cryptic Reproduction

The November 30, 1889, edition of The Academy included a review of Julian Marshall's

Life and Letters ofMary .\helly/, one of the first texts to address the topic of Mary's life after the

death of her husband. The reviewer notes the originality of Marshall's text, which focused

primarily on Mary and not Percy or Byron. The biography also, however, draws a picture of

Mary's life that is dark and gloomy. Her story is

from first to last unrelievedly painful; and the picture is one of somber gloom only broken
by lurid lights which serve to render the darkness more impressive. The central figure is
certainly one of winning beauty; but it is always seen either in deep shadow or in fitful
illumination of these ghastly gleams, and Mary Shelley is encircled by a "rabble rout,"
who seem more like shapes in some phantasmagoria of nightmare than like men and
women of the every-day waking world.

Mary is pictured as haunted by the spectral traces of those close to her who, now dead, haunt her

waking hours. The attitude is reflected in Mary Shelley's one printed obituary, written in the

February 15, 1851, edition of the Athenaeum in which the author portrays Mary's descriptions of

the world as "unreal in the excess of their sadness" (LMWS 397).36 Like the review of

Marshall's text, Mary Shelley is thought to have depicted a world that acted as a transparent

window into her melancholic life. The dramatic tone of these reviewers is especially interesting

when one understands that many of the poets in Mary's own circle wrote frequently about

melancholy and several of them suffered from depression. Percy, Claire, Byron, and her mother


36 Betty Bennett's three volume Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley provides this chapter with most of the
epistolary material, includes this obituary at the end, and remains the best edition of Shelley's letters. The text will
hereafter be cited with the initials LMWS.









Mary Wollstonecraft all struggled with the disorder, and the poets featured hopeless, even

suicidal thoughts in their poetry. Nevertheless, Mary Shelley's work is characterized primarily as

the writing of a melancholic, depressive woman.

This narrative of a melancholic Mary Shelley is typical of texts written about Shelley in the

years following her death. This prejudice continues to more recent biographical and academic

work. For example, Diane Long Hoevler (2005) reads Mathlida and "the Mourner," as instances

of Mary Shelley's fictionalization of her own melancholic autobiography. Jacques Khalip (2005)

argues that Mary's melancholy is a bequeathal of her mother's skepticism aimed at confronting

the Romantic period's tendency toward exaggerating one's importance. Claire Raymond (2006)

suggests that Mary's melancholic voice in her novels prefigures and revises her subservient

position in the canonization of Romantic poetry.37 Melancholy proves to be a powerfully

seductive trope for Shelley critics. Esther Schor's introduction to the Cambridge Companion to

Mary .\helley (2003) attempts a compromise with the argument that Mary Shelley lived both a

life of loneliness and a life of companionship. However, the image of the lonely writer deserted

by her companions and dying without the fame of her more noted friends remains a powerful

one.

I argue that accounts of Mary's life characterize her as a melancholic by linking her

interest in writing with her experiences of watching loved ones die. A combination of journal

entries, letters, and fiction create a cryptic picture of a Mary Shelley who is fundamentally

obsessed with death. The interaction between the three sources creates a cryptic circuit between

literary text, biography, and criticism whose contents in Paul de Man's words, monumentalizee"



37 See Diane Long Hoever's "Screen Memories and Fictionalized Autobiography in Mary Shelley's Mathilda and
'The Mourner,"' Jacques Khalip's "A Disappearance in the World: Mary Wollstonecraft and Melancholy
Skepticism," and Claire Raymond's The Posthumous Voice in Women's ;; a ,,i from Mary Shelley to Sylvia Plath.









Mary Shelley's literary character.38 My interest in this section is to explore the literary

encryption of Mary Shelley by analyzing this circuit. Melancholy, as a trope moving through the

cryptic circuit, appeals to her life as a single narrative of death and depression. While chapter 1

looked at the attempt to articulate William Blake's physical body as a site of connection between

the academic reader and writer, it is the melancholic character that provides this connection for

readers of Mary Shelley's texts. Critics and biographers use the emotional intensity of Shelley's

fiction to construct her historical biography. Furthermore, the literary elements embedded in the

discussion of Mary's melancholy are made to reflect the connection between reading and death

developed in Frankenstein. I argue that the trope of melancholy creates a literary crypt as a

single, identifiable corpse focused around Mary's personality and acts to manifest the spectral

trace of the author by fixing her novels as reactions to historical trauma. The analysis of a real

historical Mary Shelley who wrote novels to work through her melancholy is a product of a

crossing between textual ruins aimed at constructing a figure with an internal personality that can

now be managed and dominated by critical discourse.

Mary's novel Frankenstein (1818) provides a literary blueprint to the melancholy

described as an essential part of her personality.39 The text connects writing and literature with

death and mourning, and suggests that melancholy begins with an unnatural attachment to books.

Frankenstein's narrative includes episodes of death in the literary education of Victor


38 See Paul de Man's essay "Shelley Disfigured," where he argues that "what we have done with the dead Shelley,
and with all the other dead bodies that appear in romantic literature [...] is simply to bury them, to bury them in their
own texts made into epitaphs and monumental graves" (121). De Man is talking about Percy Shelley rather than
Mary Shelley, but I suggest the idea applies equally (if not more) to the latter.

39 This chapter uses the 1818 edition of Frankenstein. While Nora Crook has argued that the 1831 edition of
Frankenstein is not less politically radical than the 1818 and carries many of the same thematic concerns, my reason
for the preference surrounds the inclusion in the 1831 edition of the theme surrounding the overtaking of God's
position by science. Since I am more interested in the relationship between Victor's education and melancholy, I am
not as interested in the more theistic language of the 1831 edition. See Nora Crook's "In Defense of the 1831
Frankenstein" for her approach to the latter edition of the novel.









Frankenstein and Robert Walton. Shelley's novel, in this sense, provides an analysis of death that

is primarily literary. It argues that the discovery of literature is, itself, a dark precursor to

isolation, the neglect of the family, and finally the end of life.

Robert Walton's narrative in the novel parallels the burial of the dead with the discovery of

books. While Walton is self-educated, a practice that he suggests alienates other people, his

desire to become a sailor is fulfilled only by ignoring the wishes of his father and embracing the

fantasies inspired by reading his uncle's collection of sailing books. On his deathbed, Walton's

father forces his uncle to keep Walton away from the sailing industry. Death in Walton's

narrative occurs as a block to the fulfillment of desire. Reading is seen as the action that causes

Walton to ignore the wishes of his father and leave his family. Walton reveals that this

absorption in books causes most people to "despise" him "as romantic" (53). Reading, in this

way, causes Walton to ignore his dead father's memory, take up sailing, and leave his family. As

a practice, then, reading leads to a narcissism that distracts the sailor from his call to mourn the

dead and, instead, forces him to embrace isolation.

Victor's early memories are likewise punctuated with death and isolation. The first portion

of the narrative focuses on Victor's introduction to reading and education as relatively free of

consequence. His studies were "never forced; and by some means we always had an end placed

in view, which excited us to ardor in the prosecution of them" (66). Shelley's Miltonic allegory

of education figures as Victor's tempter the work of Cornelius Agrippa, a text that promises the

"resurrection of the dead," and focuses Victor's interest in the conquering of death and disease.

The literary narrative here introduces a tension between new and outdated knowledge whose

misrecognition leads Victor to his failure. As he introduces the text to his father, the response is

not enthusiastic. Victor's father "looked carelessly at the title-page of my book and said, 'Ah!









Cornelius Agrippa! My dear Victor, do not waste your time upon this; it is sad trash" (68).

Victor's father distinguishes between books that are essential to the education of the individual

and those that are a waste of time. The latter impacts Victor far more negatively than the former.

The scientist suggests that had his father performed his duty to direct his attention to "useful

knowledge [...] the train of my ideas would never have received the fatal impulse that led to my

ruin" (68). The narrative transforms intellectual nourishment, which is acquired by the

consumption of useful books, into a poison brought by wasteful books that brings only death and

ruin.

The death of Victor's mother provides material evidence for Victor's presumption that his

acquaintance with the texts of Agrippa, and the dark desires for resurrection they inspire,

transform life into decay. Victor calls the event "an omen, as it were, of my future misery," and

reads the death of his mother as an interruption of the beginning of his University education (71).

He sees the interruption as a warning against proceeding with the path laid out by the books he

read as a younger child. The death scene of Victor's mother acts as a repetition of the death of

Walton's father, providing a contrast between the two characters. While both stories recall an

interruption to reading and a suggestion that death accompanies the practice of reading, the death

of Victor's mother inspires melancholy. It is this melancholy that serves as the pre-text of the

monster's birth. Victor's mother is encountered in a dream he has before first seeing the monster.

In the dream, he kisses the image of Elizabeth who changes into his mother's corpse: "a shroud

enveloped her form, and I saw the graveworms crawling into the folds of the flannel" (85).

Victor's fiancee becomes his mother's corpse, which then dissolves into a monster. By reading,

Victor both characterizes the monster as a horrific collection of occult sources and embeds these









sources within the corpse of his mother. The haunting of the mother has been transformed into a

material creature that embodies Victor's loss.

Both of these early episodes in Frankenstein articulate a theory of melancholy that sees the

condition as an effect of reading. Walton's story depicts reading as forcing him to ignore the

wishes of his father and causing him to live most days in isolation. Victor's story connects

reading with a dark desire leading him, he fears, to desecrate the memory of his mother. The

book in Frankenstein acts to rewrite the destinies and the personalities of her characters. It,

furthermore, tempts these characters from their families: Walton leaves his sister to go on ocean

voyages in the Artic, while Victor leaves his family to create his monster. Frankenstein depicts

reading as an exercise in death and isolation and the book as a dark power inspiring melancholic

reflection. The ghostly power of the book's impact on Victor's life is enclosed in the monster's

physical body. As a material collection of corrupted and decayed bodies, the monster encloses

this loss into his body as a physical object that can be scorned and destroyed.

The connection between death and writing provides a fundamental trope for the

construction of Mary Shelley's encrypted corpse. If, as Fred Botting suggests, Frankenstein

reflects the narcissistic desires of criticism, then I would add that the novel also provides

criticism with a means to reconstruct Mary Shelley as a figure of melancholy.40 This novel,

along with others in Mary's corpus, is appropriated to place melancholy at the center of Shelley's

biography. Victor's melancholy is said to reflect Mary's melancholy. Biographical accounts of

Mary's life conflate biography with literature, and criticism with history, to create the membrane

for Mary Shelley as a literary crypt. These accounts reflect the concerns of the novel by

presenting a figure that is, like Victor and Walton, concerned with the intersections of literature,

40 Botting argues that criticismim [...] finds, and loses, itself among the broken narrative frames of Frankenstein"
(17).









writing, and death. The widespread interest in the many deaths circulating around Mary's life

sketches a picture of a life consumed by mourning the deaths of others. The construction of her

literary identity uses melancholy to suggest a connection between Mary's inner thoughts and the

critic who is able to access them. This identity, in turn, enables literary and academic culture to

appropriate Mary Shelley's melancholy as part of a larger discourse of history, and authorial and

disciplinary identity.

Critical and biographical accounts of Mary's melancholy move from sources outlining the

uncanny encounters with death experienced by Mary Shelley to a biographical narrative

dominated by the melancholic indulgences of its authors. Accounts of Mary Shelley's

melancholy, I argue, appropriate fiction to heighten the literary effect of depression. As many of

these authors have suggested, Mary's encounters with death began with her birth. Mary

Wollstonecraft died giving birth to the child. The death was brought on by an incident involving

Wollstonecraft's inability to eject the placenta. Marie Mulvey-Roberts argues that this creates a

horrific portrait of Mary's birth: the object used to nourish Mary is seen as the instrument of her

mother's death (198). Yet according to Wollstonecraft's midwife, it is a "prejudice common

amongst many women, that they must be in great danger as long as the after-birth remains in the

womb; and for this reason, the expulsion is seldom left to nature" (qtd. in St. Clair 177). The

common parlance that links the words "placenta" with "afterbirth" invokes an object that is at

first used to nourish the child and then if not properly ejected threatens the mother with death.

The afterbirth becomes the site of superstition about death, and the womb is made into

Wollstonecraft's internal crypt.

Godwin's hasty decision to remove the placenta reflected this superstition and was also

used to heighten to gothic flavor of the scene. Wollstonecraft was not allowed to feed her









daughter due to fears that her milk was poisoned. Her entire body reflects the death that is seen

growing in her body. Godwin calls upon a doctor who removes Wollstonecraft's placenta in

pieces, but does so without sterilizing his instruments. As Janet Todd recounts, "Godwin

recorded the time in his journal, then drew three wordless lines" (495). The wordless lines in

Godwin's journal marks an empty time, a blank nothing narrating an event that-like the womb

and the placenta-is transformed into a empty signifier of death. Shelley's birth, emerging as it

does from the death of Wollstonecraft, translates afterbirth into death, womb into crypt, and the

narrative recalling Godwin's life into a blank nothing.

Despite the lack of evidence outlining Mary's relationship to her mother, most

biographical work continues to emphasize the death of her mother by the daughter and speculate

on its impact to the early development of Mary Shelley's personality. Biographical accounts

emphasize the horrific nature of the event by suggesting the uncanny polarity between the

experiences of the two Marys. Miranda Seymour, for example, titles the chapter describing Mary

Shelley's birth as "a birth and a death." Seymour suggests that it is

hard to be sure at what point and to what degree Mary felt that her own birth had robbed
this beautiful, vital woman of her life-her mother was only thirty-eight when she died.
Frankenstein's creation of a child he perceives as abhorrent may tell us something dark and
troubling about Mary's view of herself. (33)

The biography turns to Mary's tale of resurrection as a means to understand the dark thoughts

that may or may not have occurred to the author. She also suggests that the story of Victor's

anger toward his creature might function as a literary reflection of anxieties about her mother.

The death of Victor's mother from scarlet fever reflects the death of Mary's mother from her

own infectious fever. Seymour concludes that "Mary may well have blamed herself for the

puerperal (infectious) fever of which Mary Wollstonecraft died" (34). The melancholic effect of

Mary's fiction is constructed as a telepathic connection to her innermost thoughts. While









Seymour's biography attempts to explain Mary's melancholy, it reveals the use of fiction to

create a desire for access to the thoughts of the dead. Melancholy emerges as an effect of

reading, rather than an inner psychological condition that reading can unlock.

The birth scene forecasts Mary's melancholy by marking her life with the stain of death.

The slippage between birth and death remains a constant throughout Mary's life. She is born

from the two crypts of her parents: the physical crypt of Wollstonecraft's death-inducing

afterbirth and the written crypt of Godwin's blank journal diary. The tension between these two

crypts impacts Mary's education. As several of the biographers recall in their texts, Mary learned

her letters by tracing on her mother's grave and a proud Godwin would frequently introduce her

in parties as a "Mary Wollstonecraft in the making" (Seymour 44). Once seen as the death of her

mother, Mary's literary education has transformed her into the ghostly remnant of her mother.

The meditation on physical and bodily death is, furthermore, reflected in critical accounts

of Mary's development as a writer. Julie Carson has argued that Mary's persona stems from the

largely custodial position she takes with regard to dead writers (211). For Carson, this custodial

position reveals itself most clearly in Mary's later novels and in her biographical work-a point

Susan Wolfson echoes in her study of Mary's role as the editor of Percy's poetry, acrossos her

volumes, she emerges as a uniquely privileged mediator, the intimate who is the poet's ideal,

best reader" (193). Mary's desire to edit her husband's work becomes, for Wolfson, a means for

the author to prove her worthiness and suggests that she had still not overcome her propensity for

melancholy. Mary's status as a writer, moreover, is seen depending upon her intimacy with the

dead and her ability to take the remains of the past, mediate them to a public living in the

present, and provide a proper place for their preservation. In a letter to Frances Wright in 1824,

Mary says that the memory of Wollstonecraft reminds her that "I ought to degenerate as little as I









[can] from those from whom I derived my being" (LMWS II; 4). Mary's status as a custodian of

the dead, then, extends to her physical and mental being and situates her identity as a relay

station with the afterlife. Her interest in writing, furthermore, connects with her obsessions about

death.

The connections between Mary Shelley, death, and writing are applied to an analysis of the

melancholic aspects of her fiction, which are seen reflecting the events of her life. Diary

accounts of these deaths emphasize the disconnection Mary feels to the world around her. This

disconnection provides biographies and critical studies with the material to continue their

arguments suggesting Mary's melancholy. The combined deaths of her two children (Clara in

September 1818; William six months later in June 1819) reverse the traumatic event of her birth.

Now, instead of being the product of a woman on the verge of death, Mary gives birth to children

who die. She is seen as both the daughter and the mother of death. While Clara's death is marked

only by a brief entry in her journal in September 1818, which describes their hurried trip to

Venice with Clara,William's is enveloped in a much longer letter to Marianne Hunt in which the

mother complains that her son changed quickly from having "a fine colour-wonderful spirits"

to breedingn] worms" (LMWS I; 102). The immediacy of both deaths causes Mary to

experience long periods of depression, in which she is separated from the world around her. She

writes to Leigh Hunt on September 24 that the vividness of life has fled from the world and that

I can assure you I am much changed-the world will never be to me again as it was-there
was a life & freshness in it that is lost to me-on my last birthday when I was 21-I
repined that time should fly so quickly and that I should grow older so quickly-this
birthday-now I am 22-although the time since the last seems to have flown with the
speed of lightning yet I rejoiced at that & only repined that I was not older-in fact I ought
to have died on the 7th of June last. (qtd. in Journals 291)

Shelley's letter communicates a profound stillness caused by the passing of time. In the context

of her letter to Hunt, this takes the form of a profound quickness juxtaposed with the belief that









she should already be dead. These diary entries also, however, suggest the image of a writer who

is struggling with death and noticing the world disconnecting from her.

Mary describes the theme of disconnection from a vivid world in 1844's Rambles in

Germany and Italy in 1840, 1842, and 1843, which Betty Bennett reveals is a literary reworking

of Mary's memory watching Clara die in 1818 (221). Mary notes that it "is a strange, but to any

person who has suffered, a familiar circumstance, that those who are enduring mental or

corporeal agony are strangely alive to immediate external objects, and their imagination even

exercises a wild power over them" (qtd. in Bennett 221). The experience of death opens Mary to

the world of the inanimate, and she hovers between the expiring body of her daughter and the

promise of life held together by her imagination. Further on down the page, Mary hears the

communication of the inanimate through a series of memories that the objects impart upon her:

"[T]he banks of the Brenta presented to me a moving scene; not a palace, not a tree of which I

did not recognize, as marked and recorded, at a moment when life and death hung upon our

speedy arrival at Venice" (qtd. in Bennett 221).

Mary's memory reconstructs Clara's death in a relay between inert objects that both

interact and impress memory upon the writer. Mary's belief that she should be dead is coupled

with a preternatural affinity with the inert and the inanimate. The journal entries suggest a

mourning period that is tied to philosophical reflection, characterized by an affinity with the inert

object that makes Mary feel alive. Mary's literary recollection of Clara's death, on the other

hand, suggests the connection between memory and revision. The extended meditation on

Clara's death is only available to her once she had remembered it some 36 years later.

The deaths of Mary's children fuse writing to the character of Mary's depression. Criticism

invokes the deaths as a means to unlock Mary's internal thoughts. Emily Sunstein, for example,









sees the writing of Valperga and Mathilda, undertaken soon after the deaths of Clara and

William, as part of a self-induced program of therapy (188). More radically, Rosaria Champange

has suggested that to read Mathilda in any way but an autobiographical meditation on

melancholy risks reinforcing patriarchal law:

I am not just a little intrigued that other scholars-both feminist and politically undeclared
ones-who have just read Mathilda conclude everything but the most obvious observation:
that in a suicidal summer, Mary Shelley used Mathilda to concretize the aftereffects of
what she experienced. That no critic has suggested this is no mere oversight: from a radical
psychoanalytic-feminist perspective, the incest taboo has enforced critical interpretations
of Mathilda that maintain the Father's law. (57)

Reading Mary's novel as an allegory of the novelist's own melancholy is both obvious and

politically progressive for Champange. She, consequently, uses Mathilda and Valperga as

fictional performances of Mary's psychology. The external events occurring in Shelley's life,

derived from her diary entries, are transposed onto a narrative of melancholy that is then

connected to the written portion of the novel. Champange analyzes Mathilda as an encrypted

code hiding the internal mind of Mary Shelley. In order to unlock that mind, Champange turns to

the fiction, which coupled with the diaries describing her struggles after the death of her

children, creates an internal space that is now defined by Mary's disorder. The novel provides a

diagnosis for the author's biography; it unlocks the code separating the critic from a complete

and present picture of Mary's personality. Mary Shelley's fiction is appropriated in order to

visualize the secret interior of her mind and to better connect with her.

These tendencies reach an apotheosis in Louise Di Salvo's self-help book Writing as a

Way ofHealing, in which Mary's writing of Mathilda is cited as an example of a cure for

suicide. Di Salvo describes her book as "an invitation to use writing as a way of healing," and the

text transposes the experience of women as writers for the author's program (9). A series of

readings provide Di Salvo with examples of women who were depressed, turned to writing for









help, and whose methods are now cited as a useful way to combat depression. Di Salvo connects

Champagne's theory with its own narrative detailing Mary's struggle with suicide:

In 1819, during a summer of life-threatening crisis, Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein,
kept her suicidal urges in check by writing her novel Mathilda. Her young son William had
just died. The year before, she had suffered the death of her daughter Clara. [...]
Connecting her desire with this heretofore unexamined, unspoken experience (the
possibility of incest in her own past) saved Mary Shelley's life. (171)

The use of fiction to embody a depressive state in the criticism of Sunstein and Champagne

is now abstracted as a method to combat depression. Mary Shelley's depression and the writing

associated with that depression are encrypted, sealed, and made available to be exported to other

people suffering from what is seen as a similar disorder. The cryptic circuit around Mary Shelley

moves from fiction, to biography, to academic criticism, and finally to the genre of the self-help

book. Shelley's literary crypt is transformed into a commodified pharmaceutical prescribed to

depressive readers. The capsule contains both what is seen as a historical depressive state that led

to the creation of fiction and the cure contained within that fiction. Di Salvo's story translates

Victor's fear that reading can be poisonous and destructive to an environment where that poison

can rehabilitate melancholic depressives and become a cure.

Mary Shelley's literary crypt appropriates fiction to fill gaps in Mary's more traditional

textual remains: journals, travel writing, and letters. The connections between these sources form

her body as a space preserved by its connection to her fiction. The cryptic body of Mary Shelley

allows criticism to use fiction to construct a channel within Mary's mind, where it can extract

evidence of a depressive state and market her cure to other depressives. Mary certainly did

struggle with loneliness and depression, but the academic market tied to disseminating

information about Mary's depression uses her writing to monumentalize her authorial figure. The

diaries, for example, sketch out a picture of depression, yet Mary's melancholy is incomplete,

ruined, insubstantial. Fiction acts to supplement the textual ruins of Mary's melancholy,









constructing a figure that can embody the struggle with, and the triumph over, her mental

condition. As a disorder wedded to the inner workings of a mourning mind, melancholy forms

Mary's texts as a crypt-sealing off the gaps and the nuances that might otherwise complicate

the picture we have of her struggles with loss.

New Mediations of the Crypt

I have just argued that critical accounts of Mary Shelley's melancholy construct her texts

as crypts for her inner personality. Now, I will argue that Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl

symptomizes the memorialization of Mary Shelley, and literary culture in general, by revealing

the intersection between the literary encryption of Mary Shelley and the technological

preservation of the literary experience. Patchwork Girl was seated in the middle of a

hypertextual revolution in English Departments. Called by Robert Coover a harbinger of the

"golden age of hypertext," Jackson's text was celebrated for its formal inventiveness and its

willingness to forego linear narrative and celebrate the deferral of meaning (qtd. in Keep).

Patchwork Girl was characterized as nothing less than a complete rehabilitation of the literary

canon, an embodiment of the poststructuralist iconoclasm of French theory, and an example of

the new possibilities of feminine writing. As such, Jackson's text represented the culmination of

an institutional iconoclasm that dismantled the literary canon and constructed texts as self-

differing objects of play.

Yet Patchwork Girl was also described as making computers and hypertext new mediums

for literary invention. N. Katherine Hayles called Jackson's text a useful starting point to explore

"electronic hypertext as literary medium." George Landow identified the patchwork girl

character as a "digital fulfillment [...] of twentieth-century literary and pictoral collages."

Christopher Keep suggested that Jackson explores[] the literary potential" of hypertext. The

literary dimension of Jackson's work is important to much of the praise surrounding Patchwork









Girl. Yet none of the articles on Jackson's text explore what literature means when transported to

the realm of hypertext fiction. If, as Hayles suggests, hypertext necessitates the development of

new reading strategies, then why continue to use the word "literature" and "literary" to describe

what Jackson is producing?

I argue that the word "literary" describes Jackson's Patchwork Girl only insofar as the

term is meaningless. The terms "literature" and "literary" function as blank signifiers, attempting

to prove that hypertext can provide the same loosely defined experience as other literary texts. I

suggest that this tendency to retrieve the literary in hypertext and other New Media applications

functions to create literature as a melancholic object of preservation or a crypt. Patchwork Girl

reveals this literary encryption by depicting the slow disappearance of Mary from the narrative

and charting the reaction of the patchwork girl to this disappearance. Mary Shelley is also,

however, made into a mouthpiece for Jackson's rehabilitation of the masculine Romantic ego

and her subsequent attempt to fuse postmodern literary theory to a Romantic tradition. Jackson's

text reveals the consequences of literary encryption and the complicated process of

pathologically mourning the dead Romantic celebrity.

Hypertext literature developed out of attempts to provide new experiences that could not

be achieved with print literature. Michael Joyce, author of Afternoon: A Story, describes his

motivation for exploring the possibilities of hypertext in the 1980s as a desire to "write a novel

that would change in successive readings and make those changing versions according to the

connections that I had for some time naturally discovered" (31). Joyce saw hypertext as a means

to produce a new literary effect: the shuffling of paragraphs and the creation of a narrative that

could be viewed in different sequences. This hypertextual reinvention of literature, however,

quickly brought about declarations of the demise of literature. Robert Coover called print









literature "dead as God," in the June 2 1992 edition of the New York Times Book Review. Jay

David Bolter announced the death of prose in Writing Space, but also suggested "our culture will

want to keep the patient alive, if moribund, so that the mutual remediation with digital media can

continue" (56). The dead body of literature, in Bolter's account, is made into the conceptual

equivalent of a bad horror film where literary cannibals keep the bodies of the old alive only to

provide them with sustenance. While these proclamations proved to be a little premature, New

Media nevertheless continues to invoke the metaphors of death to describe the innovation of new

programs and the discarding of those rendered obsolete.41 Hypertext, itself, was declared dead by

Nick Montfort in his 2000 review "Cybertext Killed the Hypertext Star" where he suggests that

hypertext's "corpus has been produced." David Ciccoricco begins his book on hypertext,

Reading Network Fiction (2007), lamenting that Montfort's review and Coover's essay "Literary

Hypertext: The Passing of the Golden Age" both appeared while he was researching the book.

All of these deaths, I argue, figure New Media as a critical discourse mired in melancholy,

and this melancholy reflects an inability to fully or finally conjure away its literary ghosts. The

so-called death of hypertext and its failure to replace the canon of print literature have created a

void in the heart of literary studies punctuated by a literary aura that has no material object.

Jackson's Patchwork Girl reflects these issues not only due to its status as an exemplar of the

genre, but also because it invokes the language of death and dying to situate its relationship to

literature. Shelley Jackson, furthermore, sees herself as the spiritual daughter of Mary Shelley,

and combines their names on the title page of the text: "by Mary/Shelley & herself." Yet what

that shared name means to the question of Jackson's relationship to Mary Shelley remains vague



41 For example, Stuart Moulthrop argued in 1991 that hypertext brought about the "end of the death of literature"
and a reawakening interest in typographic culture. See Moulthrop's "You Say You Want a Revolution? Hypertext
and the Laws of Media."









and unanswered. I argue that Jackson's text allegorizes Mary Shelley as a literary crypt tied to

the ascendancy of new technologies in English Departments and, as such, must contend with the

melancholy associated with the death of older media.42

Patchwork Girl uses the hypertext medium to dramatize the technological preservation of

literary experience. The text imagines the resurrection of literature by referring to the bodily

resurrection of the patchwork girl: a creature formed in Jackson's text by the writing and the

stitching of Mary Shelley. The patchwork girl's body alludes to Shelley's monster in her novel

Frankenstein. Both are formed from the parts of other bodies. Jackson's patchwork girl,

however, extends the concept of the monster metaphor into a larger meditation on literary

writing. While the monster depicted in Shelley's Frankenstein is made of corporeal body parts,

Jackson's patchwork girl is also composed of computer code and written text. "[A]ll bodies are

written bodies," Jackson argues by citing Helene Cixous, "all lives pieces of writing" (all

written).43 The patchwork girl's body is simultaneously corporeal and textual, and the allusions

to the connections between writing and the body suggest that the written set of screens

comprising the Patchwork Girl program enacts the body of its main character. Jackson's text, in

this way, does not merely represent a character, it reveals the act of reading as a corporeal

experience in which putting together a set of screens performs the task of stitching together and

resurrecting the remains of the dead.




42 In an otherwise enlightening study of the melancholic form of hypertext narrative, David Punday suggests that
Jackson's text disrupts melancholy by celebrating the Frankenstein story and feminine creativity. He argues that the
melancholic hypertext "traps the reader in a textual structure whose effects are inevitable" while the mournful text
"looks toward the future and challenges the reader to respond and act" (98). The choice here is the same one literary
academics have been posing for years: either we are exasperated and filled with dread when confronted with the
breakdown of familiar forms of narrative or we become true iconoclasts and approach New Media with affirmation.
Punday's essay seeks to purify Jackson's texts, and the iconoclast position in general, from melancholic tendencies.
43 Parenthetical citations to Patchwork Girl refer to the name of the screen where the quoted material was found.









The link between text and corpse in Jackson's narrative is most easily seen in the first few

screens that pop up after loading the program: the title page, the phrenology image, and the

anatomical screen of an unidentified girl. The title page recalls aspects of nineteenth-century title

pages in general, and Mary Shelley's title page to Frankenstein in particular. At first glance, it

may seem counterintuitive to include a title page to a hypertext that extols non-linearity and

incompleteness. As Margaret Smith argues, the development of the title page in the sixteenth

century protected the unity of the written work by covering copy between the stages of its initial

printing and the construction of a hard cover that would provide further protection. Eventually,

title pages gained a label to distinguish one book from another and decorations, frontispieces,

and ornamentation for the purposes of advertising the book (17-19). The title page advertised a

unity it protected, by covering the numerous contents of a book with a single page that

characterized the book as a whole, with a title, an author, and a publisher. Jackson invokes the

title page as a way to incorporate literature into the stylistic presentation of her hypertext and

give it a literary weight.

Shelley Jackson's title page lists the title of the text "PATCHWORK GIRL, OR A

MODERN MONSTER" in all caps. The title is centered, placed above the author, and followed

by a series of section titles. These sections include "a graveyard, a journal, a quilt, a story &

broken accents (sources)." Each section presents or enacts Jackson's patchwork

girl in a different way. The journal relays the story of the patchwork girl through a series of

entries taking her from the early nineteenth century to the present day. The quilt presents

quotations from literary theorists and academic critics. The graveyard acts as a series of

meditations on death and the body.









Mary Shelley's 1818 title page uses many of the same elements as Jackson's: the title in

all-caps, the author, and the publisher. It also includes an epigraph from Milton's Paradise Lost

(1667) that reads: "Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay / To mould me man? Did I solicit

thee / From darkness to promote me?" The epigraph functions in Shelley's novel to place

Frankenstein into British literary history, suggesting an allegorical relationship between Milton's

epic and her novel. Shelley Jackson's title page also has a space for the sources of the text, but

this space is left blank. The blank space suggests that sources do, in fact, exist but are unknown

or simply left out. Visually, the blank space blocks the allegorical logic of literary citation in

which a set of information about a source stands in for the physical presence of the source.

Without that information, it is impossible to reconnect with all of the sources that make up

Jackson's text. Literature, and the logic of the epigraph that informs literary tradition, is made the

lost object of repression and disavowal.

Clicking on the word "sources" brings up an apology for Jackson's appropriation of

sources in Patchwork Girl:

At certain times in this web I have lapsed without notice into another's voice, into direct
quote or fudged restraint. My subject matter seemed to call for this very unceremonious
appropriation. Those with a stronger sense of personal property may wish to know who is
speaking when. (sources)

The "patchwork" section employs screens that both do and do not cite their sources. One screen

presents appropriated material without quotes that must be seen before the reader can click to

another one that clearly cites the sources. While she may not have a strong sense of personal

property, Jackson is still anxious about plagiarism. The disavowal of a literary past is combined

with a sensibility that recognizes the necessity of clinging to citation as a literary commonplace

that cannot be completely consigned to the grave.









Jackson's second invocation of the connection between text and corpse, the anatomical

picture of a woman, functions like a frontispiece accompanying the title page (Figure 5-1). If the

title page lists the sections of the text and (more or less) its sources, the anatomical picture gives

a visual representation of how the text functions. As Terry Harpold has suggested to me, the

woman recalls Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man (Figure 5-1).


UIm Backli]nks H1.0torv 0 El M ] I [ a













Figure 5-1. Anatomical Woman (her).

Whereas da Vinci's piece extols vitality, the anatomical frontispiece looks more like an

autopsy. The eyes of the figure are closed and her hair lies disheveled to the side. The various

parts of the woman are marked with dotted lines suggesting preparation for an autopsy

investigation. The body, despite being in stark contrast with the black background, looks pale

and lifeless. The phrenology image, Jackson's third screen, portrays a head that is quite

obviously alive, yet the image itself recalls outdated science and outdated technology. The title

page, autopsy, and phrenology images present three deaths that elegize and mock the past. The

title page links death with writing. The phrenology image links death with technology. These

deaths invade the narrative construction of a beginning to Jackson's text, engraving the authors,

sources, and images as sections of some unfinished grave.









Clicking on the various sections of Jackson's text listed on the title page gives us variations

of the same image as the anatomical picture, except the sections of the picture are scrambled in

different ways and no longer represent a single identifiable body (Figure 5-2).


I1 | BackE Lnk Hi llory U El FFI L


Al 1 I B

Figure 5-2. Scrambled autopsy in A) (hercut3). B) Another scramble (hercut4).

A second click brings up the following message: "I am buried here. You can resurrect me, but

only piece meal. If you want to see me whole, you will have to sew me together yourself'

(graveyard). The title page and the frontispieces lead to a message suggesting that to experience

the patchwork girl as a complete body, the reader must dig up her parts and stitch them together.

Readers are introduced to coded body parts that must be first resurrected, or opened through a

series of screens, and then put together to form a totality.

Another click reveals the patchwork girl's body parts, including "a Heat, Trunk, Arms

(Right and Left), and Legs (Right and Left) as well as divers Organs appropriately Disposed.

May they Rest in Piece" (headstone). The headstone screen complicates the textual association

with the physical remains of the corpse and the crypt. Clicking on each of the parts opens new

windows that describe the lives of the various body parts before they were attached to the

patchwork girl. Her head is described as being akin to an ancient vase, her trunk belonged to an


~nL









ambitious but passionate dancer named Angela, her right arm was once attached to a shipyard

attendant who threw bottles at vagrants. Each body part is situated inside a narrative screen

devoted to its history. Jackson opens her hypertext with metaphors that suggest both materiality

as text (the title page physically holds the text together and creates a skin for its contents) and

materiality as a dead body (the title page and subsequent screens suggest a head stone that is

placed on top of the patchwork girl's encrypted body parts). Jackson vacillates between these

two metaphorical invocations of the body and thus suggests that the literary body is preserved by

the act of programming code.

Hypertext acts as the language used to resurrect the patchwork girl. A series of interfaces

relay the patchwork girl to the reader who, then, linguistically reconstructs her. Code is

translated into pixels displayed as words suggesting parts of the creature's body. The first few

screens simulate Jackson's theory of bodily materiality and her attitude toward the literary past.

This past is a disordered, blank, and encrypted set of parts whose meaning and cohesion must be

deciphered by a computer program and ordered by a reader. The CD-Rom containing Jackson's

hypertext acts, in this way, as the material embodiment of the patchwork girl's body and the

program acts as an identity that can be accessed if one has the proper tools. Getting to the text of

the patchwork girl involves navigating technological as well as legal limitations blocking the

resurrection of her body. Only those who are able to load the CD-Rom program onto a computer

capable of decoding its contents and displaying the pixels on a screen can access the text at all. I

have a Macintosh iBook G4 and could not initially load the program because my operating

system (OS X 10.4.11) is too advanced. In order to view Patchwork Girl on a Macintosh

Computer, I was told to download a version of Mac Classic 9.0. The body of the patchwork girl

was already lost to my Macintosh computer, whose operating system could not read the code









inscribed on the program's CD. Furthermore, the viewing of the patchwork girl's body is

regulated by copyright. While there are no safeguards in the program that enforce this rule, the

program cannot function without inserting the CD-Rom into the computer. Copyright protections

and the boundaries of technological compatibility form a division between a material CD-Rom

whose contents are unavailable and textual contents that must still be stitched back together.

Patchwork Girl's parts are available only to those who have the technological means, the

legal right, and the linguistic ability to access the program. The preservation of the literary, in

this sense, is obscured by the physical properties of the CD-Rom as an object. The body itself

becomes the crypt both protecting and blocking the literary experience. As Richard Doyle has

shown in his study of the discourse surrounding cryonics patients, encryption refers to both the

psychological process of incorporation and the coding of a message to obscure its contents.

Cryonics involves the freezing of a body that is near death with the hope that, some day,

technology will be invented to revive the patient and cure his or her disorder. Doyle points out

that many considering cryonic therapy are anxious over whether the body and mind can be

preserved over long periods of time:

[F]or many cryonicists, apprehension about the stability of archival media over time is in
some sense a discussion about the possibility of revival in the future; the very operations
that disturb the possibility of an archive-decay, the sheer difference of the future ("will
they have CD players?!), fire ("At least while you are animate ... a personal refrigerator is
helpful in many ways." [CryoNet, message 5591]) also threaten cryonic bodies. (71)

While patients are worried about the possibility of being physically revived in a future that has

the technology to repair the damage inflicted by the freezing process, they are also concerned

about the preservation of their identity. Shelley Jackson seems less anxious about the

preservation of identity. Yet the ambivalence of Patchwork Girl towards literary property, along

with the limitation of the hypertext to the physical object of the CD-Rom, threaten to seal Mary

Shelley forever inside the tomb of outdated technology. Mary Shelley is neither alive nor dead in









Jackson's narrative but is preserved in a living-dead state, buried alive by the very thing that

promises the preservation of her memory.

Jackson's narrative incorporates Mary Shelley as (in Derrida's words) "a living dead, a

dead entity we are perfectly willing to keep alive, but as dead, one we are willing to keep as long

as we keep it within us, intact in any way save as living" (xxi). Jackson memorializes Mary

Shelley as an undead Romantic author in the narrative of Patchwork Girl by continually alluding

to her work while simultaneously alienating her character from the historical figure named Mary

Shelley. The journal section begins with a series of scenes written in Mary's perspective that

recall Victor's telling of the Frankenstein story to Walton. In both, the creators have an eerie

experience that prophesizes the first encounter with their respective creatures. Victor, as I

mentioned in the first section, has a dream where his fiancee turns into his dead mother. He

awakens to see the monster standing before him, a walking manifestation of his darkest fears and

desires. Mary, in Jackson's text, walks on a road right before meeting her monster and views a

sun whose light is distributed in-between patches of grey and yellow. The sun

played fitfully in the upper reaches of the cloud bank that hung overhead. There, through
threadbare patches in the counterpane of gray that hung over the landscape, I could see its
invalid fingers despondently toying with those vaporous growths and monstrous births.
(my walk)

The play of color and patchwork is invoked again when Mary describes the singular beauty of

the monster. She compares the beauty of her different hues to the colors of autumn, suggesting

that such a beauty cannot come from one color alone:

I believe it is because the myriad differing hues, while tending toward the self-same yellow
one can achieve with the broth of tumeric, say, or onion skins, creates a disturbance of
other colors around a root color: a penumbra, a kind of three-dimensionality of color. (she
stood)

As many readers of Shelley's Frankenstein know, the color yellow plays a central role in

communicating the horror of the novel. The 1831 introduction describes the creature Mary sees









in her dream as having "yellow, watery, but speculative eyes" (357). Victor describes the

monster as having a "dull yellow eye" and "yellow skin" that "scarcely covered the work of

muscles and arteries beneath" (85). And when he first discovers that the monster has killed

Elizabeth, Victor sees the monster framed by the "dim and yellow light of the moon" (85).

Mary's world in Jackson's text is saturated with yellow, which is gradually celebrated as a color

of beauty. The cancerous metaphors in "my walk" are transformed into those invoking a more

delicate, almost autumnal death in "she stood" where the dullness of the yellow is offset by its

penumbra effect. The softening of the description here is typical of Jackson's transformation of

Mary from someone who is frightened by the patchwork girl and her strange behaviors to

someone who accepts and even delights in them.

Jackson "rehabilitates" Mary Shelley by making her into a more tolerant character willing

to venture into realms of sympathy and love that Shelley's character Victor was never able to.

She is also afforded an aesthetic reason for her tolerant attitude. The suggestion of a light giving

birth to monsters in "my walk" is made into a source of beauty in "she stood." Mary is more

aesthetically sensitive than her scientist protagonist and more maternal, and as such she is able to

pick out beauty from what is seemingly horrifying and ghastly. She welcomes the changes the

patchwork girl provokes in her when she argues that the creature does not "resemble me" and

then quickly adds, "I begin to wonder if I resemble myself" (appetite). Mary does not resemble

herself, and this is the central point of Jackson's rehabilitation: to create a postmodern Mary

Shelley that is both familiar and different. Jackson archives Mary Shelley with her text, but does

so in a way that changes Mary completely.

Mary Shelley becomes a composite signifier in Jackson's text, referring to an author of

Patchwork Girl, a character in the journal section, a sliver of flesh in the patchwork girl's body,









and the source of historical documents used in the writing of Jackson's hypertext. As the story

progresses, Mary Shelley gradually resembles herself less and less, until she resembles nothing

at all. The text begins in Mary's point of view then switches to that of the patchwork girl. This

process begins when Mary, responding to the immanent departure of her creature to America,

cuts off part of her flesh and gives it to the patchwork girl as a parting gift. The shift in voice

marks Mary's slow disappearance from the narrative, and the loss of her centrality as a character.

Yet the patchwork girl promises to remember Mary by identifying herself with the author: "I

remember when I was Mary, and how I loved a monster, and became one. I bring you my story,

which is ours" (us). As she ventures to America, the patchwork girl ingests a sliver of flesh taken

from Mary's leg:

Mary shrank, and I took her in, I became her repository. It bloated me, the responsibility of
carrying that life. For a time I couldn't be much more than a kind of shell for it, drawn on
by it, using my resources more to keep it fat and thriving than for my own affairs. Only
with time (it was more than nine months) would the parent manikin shrink back down to
the size of an embryo. Then I could begin to reabsorb her. (Aftermath)

As a metaphor of psychological incorporation, the scene characterizes the larger struggle over

Jackson's ambivalence concerning literary tradition. The patchwork girl is depicted in a struggle

with her literary past over the proper way to incorporate her creator. Mary Shelley is ingested

and entombed inside her creature. The screen describes this incorporation as a struggle. Initially,

the patchwork girl is overcome by Mary's authority and bloated by her body. After a period of

mourning, the creature is finally able to overcome her memory and reabsorb her. The creation of

the creature's individuality occurs soon after in a series of screens where the patchwork girl buys

a dress, starts writing an autobiography, and borrows a name and a past from someone called

Elsie. The individuality of the creature is maintained by silencing Mary's voice, asserting a

unique and individual personality, and adopting a name.









Allusions to Mary appear three more times in Patchwork Girl. All three reference the

question of preservation, whether Mary remains Mary after becoming part of the patchwork girl.

In one, the patchwork girl wonders how much of Mary's personality resonates in her writing,

whether her voice will make Mary's more authentic or whether the patchwork girl's "crude

strength and techy bent are better filters for her [Mary's] voice than her still polite manners" (am

I mary). The creature believes that her body can make a better Mary unencumbered by the

politeness that kept the author from a more radical tinge to her voice. Again, we are presented

with a desire to change and rehabilitate a Mary that is seen as archaic, part of a polite past whose

manners are incompatible with the full blossoming of Mary's vision. Mary is remembered

through the destruction of her body and the belief that her voice can resound even more

authentically in the body of the patchwork girl. This struggle is characterized as a question of

writing later on in the same screen, where the patchwork girl ponders, "Mary writes, I write, we

write, but who is really writing? Ghost writers are the only kind there are" (am I mary). What

began as a question based around a belief in the preservation and enhancement of Mary's voice

becomes a suggestion that Mary was entirely absorbed by the patchwork girl. As a ghost writer,

Mary becomes merely another spectral force inhabiting the always shifting body of her creature.

She is preserved as dead and referred to by the patchwork girl as a ghost who remains present in

her absence.

A second allusion to Mary occurs when the patchwork girl attempts to conjure up her voice

from the many residing in the creature's head. She calls out to Mary in the hope of hearing her,

but is confronted with a cacophony of whispers, none of which sound like Mary. On the next

screen, the patchwork girl takes up a quill and tries to get Mary to write to her. Again, nothing

happens. Mary is characterized as an absent voice and a mute substance. She is physically









present but does not respond to the creature's call for a living voice. Jackson reinforces this dead,

mute aspect of Mary Shelley on the "M/S" screen, which is completely blank and reduces the

authorial name to its initials (Figure 5-4).

The screen manifests the nothingness that preserves Mary's trace in the narrative as a blank

placeholder of a literary past. As the patchwork girl moves to America, Mary remains as a blank

nothing standing in the place of text that might otherwise move forward the patchwork girl's

story, a cryptic blank screen whose presence literally stops the narrative. Mary Shelley returns as

M/S: a screen with no words, a crypt with no corpse (Figure 5-3).


SEI Back Lnk 3t Hu.torv M L2 L21Ja] a














Figure 5-3. Inside the Crypt with (M/S).

A final allusion occurs in the graveyard section as a coda to a series of screens where the

patchwork girl attempts to catalogue all of her parts. As she identifies the names of her parts, the

patchwork girl begins to fall apart. She calls out to Mary, "Mary I know you want me back, but I

shall be no more than a heap of letters, sender unknown, when I return. The truth is we are all fed

on embryos" (mementos). The allusion to embryos follows a discussion Jackson undertakes in

another part of the graveyard section surrounding Aquinas's theory of bodily resurrection. As

Fernando Vidal has shown, the medieval conception of resurrection involved the perfection of









the body against its earthly decay. Medieval scholars insisted that the body must be resurrected

for the soul to achieve beatitude (931-3). Eaten human remains would be resurrected, as Jackson

recounts, with the non-human substance ingested by cannibals during their life. Aquinas, though,

counters this theory of resurrection with the example of the "case of a man who ate only human

embryos who generated a child who ate only human embryos" (eaten). The matter of the child

would never be resurrected because all of its body comes from somewhere else: either from the

substance given by its father or the substance given by the embryos it ate. Substantiated by

corpses not its own, the cannibal child would disappear in the resurrection of the corpses it used

to sustain its body. Ingestion and incorporation, once see as acts of preservation against death,

are turned into agents of annihilation and literary culture is revealed as a tradition sustained by

cannibalism-unable to resurrect its now absent corpse.

As a literary crypt, Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl allegorizes the many deaths and acts

of institutional cannibalism occurring in New Media studies. The fading corpse of literature is

turned into a blank signifier called "the literary," and used to preserve an intellectual experience

against annihilation. Despite an attempt to preserve the literary author and show a history

moving print literature to literary hypertext, Jackson's text also charts the gradual disappearance

and annihilation of the literary corpse as a direct consequence of hypertext. The literary crypt

designed to protect literature from destruction has become the agent of its undoing.

Outdated Shelley

This chapter has argued that academic critics construct Mary's melancholic personality as

a literary crypt. This crypt is, then, appropriated by Shelley Jackson to show how these same

critics look to New Media technology to preserve a literary experience that has lost its definition.

In what follows, I will explore what happens when Frankenstein no longer signifies a piece of

literature, and New Media studies removes all traces of the literary from its object of criticism.









Matthew Kirschenbaum, a theorist identified as a major proponent of moving New Media away

from literary studies and toward an emphasis on the history of computation, invokes Shelley's

novel in Mechanisms (2007) as an example of what he calls formal materiality: a symbolic

process that invokes an "illusion of [...] immaterial behavior" (11). In the case of Shelley's

novel, the essential presence of Frankenstein is based on a particular collection of letters and

sentences. He argues, "a copy of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein is a perfectly valid way of

experiencing a work (you don't have to go to the Bodleian Library in Oxford and sit down with

the holograph manuscript to legitimately claim to have read Frankenstein)" (134). For

Kirschenbaum, the materiality of Frankenstein depends on a set of signifiers whose coexistence

invokes the same experience. This experience gives the simulation of an immaterial imaginative

sequence that can be replicated by anyone else that reads the same group of characters.

Using Frankenstein as an example of formal literary materiality is quite ironic considering

the novel's complicated reception history. The sheer ubiquity of the popular image of the

monster, its face plastered on classic movie posters, comic books, toys, and cereal boxes make it

nearly impossible to read Shelley's novel without at least momentarily imagining Boris Karloff s

giant brow and Colin Clive's frenzied nasal voice screaming "It's alive!" Susan Tyler Hitchcock,

in her book Frankenstein: A Cultural History, reacted to this confusion by reserving the italic

form of the letters for the novel and the unitalicized form when referring to the myth (11). The

words and sentences collected under the title Frankenstein require the interruption of italics to

secure its formal separation from the informal materiality of the monster's appearances in other

mediums. While the formal materiality of Frankenstein preserves the illusion of the same

narrative experience, the informal materiality of Frankenstein threatens to dissolve that

experience under the weight of adaptations, allusions, and cheap appropriations.









It is possible to imagine a time when Mary Shelley's name disappears from memory, all

copies of her book are destroyed, and yet Frankenstein's informal materiality still perseveres.

The image of a monster that once read Milton in order to prove its humanity and now basks in

the light of popular culture and film reflects the marginalization of the academic who now has no

job to perform and no text to preserve. The question of literary preservation has been replaced by

that of simply keeping up with the perpetually accelerating mutations of the monster's many

appearances. As Avital Ronnell argues, it is the monster's ability to disconnect from mourning

that gives it power over its creator. The monster "knows that it was created to sing the lament of

mourning, to teach the necessity of hanging up, which the professors with their self-willed

striving could not effect" (195). While the professor mourns a field of cultural history that is both

expanding and disappearing rapidly, the monster disconnects completely from the melancholy

circuit that defines the memorialization of the Romantic celebrity.

S. E. Barnett's installation "Mary Shelley's Daughter" (1999) provides a powerful allegory

of this disconnection. The installation features used television sets taken from trash dumpsters

and discarded VCRs with cables strewn about the room to, in Barnett's words, favor technology

"as a means of stripping bare external superficialities." Barnett's installation ends up calling

attention to outdated technology as revealing the essential vulnerability of his monster's body.

The television sets each display one portion of a woman's body: the top set displays her head,

another set her abdomen, yet another her arm, and another her legs respectively.

The body of the monster depends upon the constant supply of electricity and the working

condition of her parts to remain alive. These elements, in turn, depend upon human observers

who are willing to maintain the installation. At some point, people will lose interest and the

gallery will chose a new installation. The television sets will be turned off, and the technology









now seen as useless will again be placed in the trash. Imagine the discarded sets deteriorating in

a landfill, unplugged from the VCRs and the tapes that held the images of the body, the cathode

ray tubes which broadcasted the images shattered and filled with decaying food, paper and

excrement.

Imagine all copies of the VCR tapes likewise trashed, the images of the woman's body

parts stained with an unidentifiable mixture of red wine, milk, and vomit. The monster has been

completely disconnected with the instruments used to mediate our perception, and now exists

merely as a group of informal, obscured signifiers on a role of film covered from any human

contact. Memory of the exhibit is limited to a small photograph taken by the artist, placed on his

website and viewed by a graduate student to use in the coda of his last dissertation chapter.

Mary's literary crypt, designed to ensure her readiness to the academic's consumption is

contrasted with a very literal crypt in which the material parts of the installation's body rot. The

remains of Romantic celebrity exist here, in the trash heap, as much as they exist in the

manuscripts handled carefully in University libraries, the books resting on the shelves of

admirers, or even the cheaply produced YouTube videos featuring Romantic poems. And yet this

very image, the trash that is not mourned, hardly finds itself the focus of criticism or the figure of

theoretical reflection. In this academic blindspot, the trash of Romantic celebrity escapes

academic attention because it is outdated, decayed, pungent, and useless. The figure of trash

provides an image of a monsterous and absolute disconnection with literary mourning, as

academics focus their memorial activities elsewhere and the remains of celebrity no longer look

similar enough to the Romantic figure to inspire interest.









CHAPTER 6
AFTERWORD

If he loves justice, at least, the "scholar" of the future, the "intellectual" of tomorrow
should learn it and from the ghost. He should learn to live by learning not how to make
conversation with the ghost but how to talk with him, with her, how to let them speak or
how to give them back speech, even if it is in oneself, in the other, in the other in oneself:
they are always there, specters, even if they do not exist, "there" as soon as we open our
mouth and especially when one speaks there in a foreign language.
--Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx

What remains of the Romantic author? If the leftover parts of Mary Shelley are both

traveling with her multi-media monster throughout its mutating appropriations and decaying

quietly in some trash heap, how should we address or attend to the ghosts of her celebrity? I have

argued that the depiction of the Romantic celebrity's death in postmodern film and fiction

reflects an anxiety about the marginalization of literary studies. The texts I have examined

attempt to reconnect to fantasy images of authenticity and immortality embodied in Romantic

poetry. Immortality in the discourse of Romantic celebrity is focused around perpetuating a

relationship of familiarity. Mark Edmundson, Stephen Greenblatt, and Marjorie Perloff see their

special connections to the ghost of Romantic celebrity as securing a connection with a spirit they

already know. The perpetuation of disciplinary relevance occurs through having conversations

with the same ghost over and over again, and doing so in the same disciplinary language.

The quote from Derrida I have chosen as my epigraph articulates a very different attitude

towards the ghost. Derrida speaks of a multitude of specters that are both, in T. S. Eliot's words,

"intimate and unidentifiable" (140). Specters are always there, especially in those foreign spaces

inhabiting the most intimate connections between the reader and their literary dead. Derrida

mentions the return of something foreign, not the perpetuation of a constructed sense of

closeness or the elevation of the academic into a special connection with the dead. He also sees

the otherness of the specter speaking from the moment scholars open their mouths. The very









state of the scholar's being is populated with innumerable ghosts appearing, reappearing, and

disappearing. What might it mean, then, to open the field of literary studies up to the foreign

inside Romantic celebrity or to explore the "other" inside literary studies?

While I have focused on the fantasized connection between the academic scholar and the

dead Romantic celebrity as an image of familiarity and desire turned into a decaying horror, an

extended analysis could complement the work I have already done on the confrontation with the

foreign ghost. The huge industry of Jane Austen books, both those written as sequels to her

novels and those written to address the middle-class culture that regularly consumes these

novels, would provide a useful counterpoint to the more gothic texts I explored in my chapters.

Laurie Viera Rigler's recent novel Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict (2008), for example,

depicts one of Austen's many contemporary fans traveling back to the early nineteenth century

and learning to hate the restrictions placed on her behavior during the period. The disjunction

between the fan's expectations and the space she encounters provides a critique of the discourse

of personal familiarity I've explored in my project. Here, we find that the Austen fan really does

not want to be embedded in the world described by her favorite novelist. The nostalgic space of

Austen's novels is made into a world where the object of desire is foreign and disgusting.

More generally, the reincarnation of the Romantic author in science fiction could point to a

more useful way to imagine the connection between the ghost and the future. I have already

mentioned William Gibson and Bruce Sterling's use of Byron and Keats in The Difference

Engine, but a more interesting connection to science fiction is found in Dan Simmon's Hyperion

series. Simmons's books present a world in the far future that is dying and uses allusions to

Keats to give the story mythological weight. The second book in the series, The Fall ofHyperion

(1990), portrays the reincarnation of John Keats in the character Joseph Severn. Keats is brought









back to life as a cybrid, an artificial body given the memories of the poet, and is forced to

reexperience Keats's death. The creators of the Keats cybrid see the repetition of this death as a

consequence of bringing back the Romantic poet. An afterlife, in this novel, is only possible with

a death experienced after death. The ghosts of John Keats recall not a lost presence, but instead

prophesy the repetition of loss and death.

Texts like the ones I have explored in this project rethink the role of Romantic celebrity

and literary immortality by linking them to discourses of death and decay. These discourses also

reflect a belief that the connection existing between Romantic celebrities and their academic

readers has now been erased or destroyed by the general dissolution of literary studies. Some of

these texts approach the dissolution of literature by foregrounding the impotence of literary

writing (Disgrace, Gothic); others allegorize death by focusing more directly on the dead

celebrity (From Hell, Patchwork Girl). Whatever may be said about a future for literary studies,

the specters inhabiting future scholars and future conjurations of Romantic celebrity will speak

to us in a foreign language. Whether or not we hear, or can ever decrypt, these foreign future

spectral tongues remains an open question.









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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

A native of Springfield, Missouri, Roger Whitson received a B.A. from Drury University

in 2000 and an M.A. from Saint Louis University in 2002. His interests include William Blake,

Romanticism, literary afterlives, and the intersections between film, comic books, and literature.

He has published several articles on British literature and culture in a number of journals

including: Romanticism on the Net, Interdisciplinary Literary Studies, and ImageTexT:

Interdisciplinary Comics Studies. Once he completes his dissertation, Roger will have finally

proven to his mother that he was not wasting time when he read comic books, watched films, and

played on the computer.





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1 ROMANTICISM AND THE CULT OF CELEBRITY: AFTERLIVES IN POSTMODERN FILM AND FICTION By ROGER T. WHITSON A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2008

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2 2008 Roger T. Whitson

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3 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I com pleted this dissertation with the substa ntial contributi on of many outstanding people. Richard Burt, my committee chair, was an ideal ex ample of academic generosity. When I needed help after a series of personal and medical crises, he provided understanding and encouragement. Richard also profoundly transformed my understa nding of the relationshi p between literature, politics, and film. I can only hope that if litera ry studies is truly ruin ed, its post-apocalyptic fallout wont prevent me from impacting my st udents in the way Richard has inspired me. My cochair, Donald Ault, was the primary reason I came to the University of Florida. His work on William Blake and his courage to promote th e academic study of comic books made my scholarly career possible. He has also infected me, perhaps fatally, with a love of logorrhea that will always be a hallmark of my teaching and sc holarship. John Leavey provided both theoretical rigor and critique and, as a cons equence, made me a better schol ar and thinker. Robert Hatch contributed a nuanced approach to historicism and an interest in the fictional appropriation of historical figures that proved essential to th e project. Terry Harpold, Kenneth Kidd, Ron Broglio, and Judith Paige all provided insightful suggestions for this project. I would also like to thank th e members of the NASSR-L listserv who introduced me to many of the critical debates th at became fundamental to my di ssertation and my approach to Romanticism in general. I am particularly i ndebted to Susan Wolfson, Jerome McGann, Emily Bernard Jackson, Travis Brown, Nancy Mayer, and Charles Robinson. Finally, I would like to thank all of those mentors who ta ught me to value philosophical and literary inquiry, and whose friendship I continue to cher ish: Thomas Austenfeld, Char les Ess, Lisa Esposito, Peter Meidlinger, Randall Fuller, Ted Vaggalis, Thom as Moison, Vincent Casaregola, Toby Benis, Jeffrey Clymer, and Devin Johnston.

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4 My friends and colleagues nourished my devel opment as a critical thinker and impacted the development of my dissertati on. I will mention a few of these cherished individuals from the past and the present: Jason Mical, Elizabet h Griffin-Mical, Kriste n Cox, Tomoyuki Yamane, Karissa Kary, Robert Early, Steve Joos, Mich elle Creed, Angela Teater, Katherine CaseySawicki, Aaron Shaheen, Cat Tosenberger, Bren dan Riley, Todd Reynolds, Nicole LaRose, Lisa Hager, Andrea Wood, Melissa Mellon, Ariel Gun n, Jorelle Laakso Bobbitt, James Fleming, Zachery West, Emily Brock, HavreDe Hill, Ge orge Bronos, Tori Lundock, and Debray Leon. Leeann Hunter came into my life at a time when I was lost and reminded me how important and how rewarding life can be. She provided not only intellectual and editorial guidance, but love and affection. I am also fortunate to have a family who understands the importance of higher education and continues to support my dreams. My mother Ca thy and my father Todd have, in different but complementary ways, raised me to follow my curiosities with honesty and without fear. My brother David and his wife Elaina keep me humble and humorous. Char rie Dixon has taught me to fight against inequity. Kate Whitson has gen tly challenged many of my assumptions about the world. My grandmother Ruth Hodgson, who ta ught High School Greek mythology, told me stories about Hercules that th rilled me when I was young and made me interested in studying literature. However, it is those who are not still with us, the dead, who have contributed the most to my intellectual being. Roger Hodgson and Mary Whitson died before I turned 18, but their commitment to art and their generosity of spirit guide me even today. David Leach Whitson died in 2006. I remember debating philosophy and literature at his house in St. Louis as a child, years before receiving any formal education in either fi eld. I dedicate my dissertation to the memory of

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5 these dead, and to all of thos e specters who remain unacknowl edged or unacknowledgeable, but who nevertheless give me phant om shoulders to stand upon.

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6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................3 LIST OF FIGURES.........................................................................................................................7 ABSTRACT.....................................................................................................................................8 CHAP TER 1 INTRODUCTION: THE DEATH OF ROMANTIC CELEBRITY AND THE END OF LITERARY STUDIES .............................................................................................................9 2 OCCULT BLAKEANA: THE DEATH OF LITERATURE, THE MANAGEMENT OF RUIN, AND ALAN M OORE AND EDDIE CAMPBELLS FROM HELL .........................28 The Many Deaths of William Blake....................................................................................... 31 Serial Blake.............................................................................................................................46 Spectacular Death.............................................................................................................. .....66 3 BYRONS CORPSE: ACADEMIC NECR OPHI LIA AND J. M. COETZEES DISGRACE .............................................................................................................................69 Intimate Relations with Byrons Corpse................................................................................. 71 Byron and the Death of the Postmodern Academic................................................................ 81 George Gordon Byron, Postmodern Ph.D.............................................................................. 93 4 THE STILLBORN PAST: ACADEMIC REALISM, THE HAUNTED SUMMER OF 1816 AND KEN RUSSELLS GOT HIC ................................................................................97 Death, Realism, and the Academic Politics of Biography...................................................... 99 Ken Russell and the Ghosts of Celebrity.............................................................................. 114 The Struggle for Academic Realism..................................................................................... 136 5 INCORPORATING THE ROMANTIC C ELEBRITY: LITERARY ENCRYPTION, MARYS M ELANCHOLY, AND SHELLEY JACKSONS PATCHWORK GIRL ...........141 Mary Shelley in the Age of Cryptic Reproduction............................................................... 144 New Mediations of the Crypt............................................................................................... 157 Outdated Shelley...................................................................................................................172 6 AFTERWORD..................................................................................................................... 176 LIST OF REFERENCES.............................................................................................................179 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.......................................................................................................190

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7 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2-1 The dead bird (Pro:1). From Hell Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell. .............................. 50 2-2 Dead Again (Ep:10). From Hell Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell. ................................ 52 2-3 Cutting into the Sublime. (10:11). From Hell Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell. ........... 57 2-4 The Body as Cavern (10:12). From Hell Alan Moore & Eddie Cam pbell.................... 58 2-5 Eddie Campbells Ghost of a Flea (14:17). From Hell Alan Moore & E ddie Campbell............................................................................................................................64 4-1 Erecting the Telescope (2:35).......................................................................................... 119 4-2 Byron?! (2:40)............................................................................................................. .....120 4-3 Byrons back? (2:44)....................................................................................................... .121 4-4 The corpse never decays (1:24:00).................................................................................. 124 4-5 Immortality in Pu trefaction (10:01). ................................................................................ 125 4-6 Byron on Byron/Byrne on Byrne (5:14).......................................................................... 128 4-7 Shelleys Cinematic Death. (1:18:55).............................................................................. 130 4-8 Byron as Fuseli (40:04).................................................................................................... 132 4-9 Painting haunts film....................................................................................................... ..133 5-1 Anatomical Woman (her)................................................................................................ 163 5-2 Scrambled autopsy.......................................................................................................... .164 5-3 Inside the Crypt with (M/S)............................................................................................. 171

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8 Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy ROMANTICISM AND THE CULT OF CELEBRITY: AFTERLIVES IN POSTMODERN FILM AND FICTION By Roger T. Whitson August 2008 Chair: Richard Burt Cochair: Donald Ault Major: English Recent research in celebrity studies demons trates the importance of fame for a newly literate middle class confronting large-scale publication during the Romantic period. The postmodern English department, as part of its critique of these core values, feels impelled to confront the Romantic category of the author wh ile attempting to find a new institutional identity in a post-nationalist world. I argue that the appearance of the ghos tly apparition of the Romantic celebrity in postmodern film and fiction reflects anxieties and fantasies over the decline of literary studies. My project uses what I call a double history of celebrity to analyze the afterlife of the Romantic author in postmodern film and ficti on. Romantic figures have appeared in varied places in postmodern popular and academic culture, often depicted as dying or already dead. Each text reflects, reacts or mocks the anxietie s over the marginalization of literature. I analyze the postmodern afterlife of the literary celebrity as a method of investigating the marginalization of literary studies. The following chapters examine episodes in the afterlife of the Romantic celebrity in their confrontati on with academic culture.

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9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION: THE DEATH OF ROMANTIC CELEBRITY AND THE END OF LITERARY STUDIES In a 2008 article for the Chronicle of Higher Education Mark Edm undson invokes the differences between Romantic poets to address a growing divide between teachers and students. He suggests that William Wordsworths methodical poetry best represents aging academics. Students are, on the other hand, of a Byronic sort He would have adored their world of fast travel, fast communicationand fa st relationships. The studen t wants immediate gratification and hooks up with Byron, while the academic secure s a more stable and meaningful relationship with the slow but dependable Wordsworth. Edmundson clearly identifies with Wordsworth and believes that the hectic life of students, fed by their addiction to the internet and their multiple majors, will ultimately leave th em without either academic su ccess or personal satisfaction. Wordsworthian nostalgia is seen here as an authentic counterpoint to the rise of global capitalism, the emptiness of the Byronic hookup, a nd the loss of a space for personal reflection in the University. The substitution performed by Ed mundson in this article, poet ry signifies an authentic personality that can fill the hollow lives of stude nts, is haunted by a culture of celebrity whose history stretches back to the Romantic period. Wordsworth and Byron were both famous during their lifetimes, though the accounts of their celebrity are very different. Wordsworths fame is seen as developing gradually and deliberately, over a period of decades and as his readers slowly started visiting him in the Lake District. Byron s celebrity, on the other hand, is seen occurring immediately with the publica tion of the first edition of Childe Harolds Pilgrimage in 1812. I awoke one morning, Byron writes in his Me moranda, and found myself famous (qtd. in Moore 159).

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10 The characterization of Wordsworths fame as gradual and Byrons as immediate constructs a tension between the deliberate acad emic and the overwhelmed, fanatic student. The academics Wordsworthian values favor the memorialization of loss and a reconnection with a past seen as anachronistic. The students Byr onic values, on the other hand, revel in immediacy and reject the past as unnece ssarily nostalgic and ponderous. The distincti on between Byron and Wordsworth is transformed into a distinction between the oblivious student and the mourning academic. Romantic celebrity acts as Edmundson s object of mourning against what Alan Liu has characterized as the central anxiety for th e postmodern critic, th e loss of loss (558). Edmundsons ultimate fear that the student, heedless of either the lessons of Wordsworth or even of his celebrity, will forget that there wa s anything to forget in the first place. This project connects the pathological mourni ng of literary academics fearing the end of their discipline to an analysis of the postmodern afterlives of British Romantic celebrity. The Romantic period not only acts as a historical starting point to analyze celebrity, but also acts as a search for authenticity posed against a ruined an d degraded world. This search pervades many of the afterlives of the Romantic author in postm odern texts. The Romantic celebrity in my study emerges as a figure consumed by the mass medi a, stranded with the remains of European colonialism, eviscerated by seedy films and poor adaptations, and replaced by more technologically advanced forms of artistic expression. As an emblem of loss, the Romantic celebrity haunts a discipline that senses the loss of tenure, th e implosion of the academic book market, the atrophying of the job market, and th e end of theory, the liberal arts, even the University itself. William Deresiewicz, in a review of the twentieth anniversary edition of Gerald Graffs Professing Literature, suggested that the c onflicts which defined the field of literary criticism scarcely matter anymore, and that the profession is [] dying. The philosophical

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11 and political struggles that formerly defined the life of the English Department are seen by this critic as, at best, secondary to the slow, inevitabl e death of literary and cu ltural criticism. At one point of this institutional malais e stands the dead celebrity, transf ormed into a nostalgic figure of loss and mourning. I contextualize my study through several different lines of theoretical inquiry concerning: (1) the relationship between Romanticism and the celebrity; (2) an accoun t of mourning that is tied to the celebritys fame; (3) a definition of double history (the method I use to connect the historical treatment of dead Romantic celebriti es to their postmodern afterlives); and (4) an examination of literary studies and the fears su rrounding its demise. My project does not attempt a comprehensive account of Romantic celebrity s afterlives, nor does it provide a history of literary studies. I argue instead that the depic tion of the dead Romantic celebrity reflects anxieties and fantasies involving the death and marginalization of literary studies. This project sees questions of literary death wrapped up in the Romantic celebritys circuit between the belief in an authenti c personality and the narrative construction of that personality. A celebrity is, for me, a literary figure who markets a personality. Celebrities promise an authentic connection to this personality by manufact uring and selling traces of themselves in the form of pictures, interviews, books, reality tele vision shows, and gossip. Accordingly, much of the theoretical work done on celebrity focuses on the contradictions surro unding a life that is marketed for consumption by the public. P. David Marshall, for example, defines celebrity as a tension between authentic and false cultural va lue, fixed between an embodiment of media construction, audience construction and the r eal, living and breathing human being (xi). Marshall believes that the celebrity does have a life distinct from the images that circulate in the mass media, but he suggests that the marketing of the celebritys image always impacts this real

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12 life. Graeme Turner takes this characterizati on even further by argui ng that people become celebrities when interest in their public person a causes audiences to st art investigating their personal lives. The desire surrounding the celebrit y is focused on accessing the real, personal life underlying the celebritys public image. Audiences search for the authenti c life of celebrities by invading their homes, obsessing about their relations hips, and attempting to learn their innermost secrets and beliefs. The belief in a real life underlying a public persona, and the desire to access that life, feed the desire for know ledge about public figures. When celebrities die, Turner argues, people feel a disconnection that may well stem from an affection that is not dissimilar to that which we might feel for a personal acquaintanc e (9). This constructed sense of personal connection is key, I argue, to understanding the life and the afterlife of the Romantic celebrity. The mourning of celebrity during the Romantic period similarly combined personal affection and a marketed public image, but did so to insure immortality after death. Literary immortality, defined as the use of literature to extend life after the deat h of the body, existed long before the early nineteenth century. However, the Romantic period provided a discourse of popularity that connected immortality to the ne wly emergent category of literary celebrity. Authors like William Blake, George Gordon Byr on, and Mary Shelley were seemingly made immortal by the public interest in their literary work and by an at tachment to what many saw as a unique personality. These Romantic celebrities craf ted personalities that were attached to the appreciation of their literary work and became centr al in their rise to stardom. As Tom Mole has argued, celebrity emerged duri ng the Romantic period. Celebrity focused on the market production of a personality to address the mass publication of books in the early nineteenth century and the rise of a liter ate middle class. The celebrity acted on a private level for the literate middle class by appealing to the desires of audiences and providi ng a personal connection

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13 to an authentic personality untet hered to the concerns of everyday life. The celebrity acted on a public level by appealing to many of these fa ns simultaneously and creating fan communities dedicated to spreading the celeb ritys popularity. Mole reads celebrity as a category created by Romantic writers to ensure their popularity among readers needing some mechanism to determine good writers from bad ones. The constr uction of what he calls a hermeneutic of intimacy between readers and writers gave the form er an incentive to keep reading the latters work: it appropriated the charismatic personality as an escape from the standardization of work in industrial life, and assured that, through their knowledge of the celebrity author, readers could remain special and unique (13-14). Celebrity also promised the preservation of the Romantic author after death. As Andrew Bennett argues, Romantic authors largely wrote for an audience pr esent after their deaths and considered fame during their life to be ephemera l. Immortality became a literary question for the Romantic author seeking celebrity status. The British Romantic period, in this way, signifies a time of profound change in the literary construction of notoriety and its re lationship to questions of the afterlife and immortality. Reacting to the mass publication of books, the categories of celebrity and immortality provi ded a method for nineteenth-century readers to choose which books would survive and which would fade away into obscurity. My project focuses on this literary connection fostered by Romantic celebrity and the fear that such a connection might disappear. The connection between literary immortality and fame during the Romantic period constructed a discourse of mourning that divided the real friends of these authors from fans who, while perhaps feeling a deep c onnection to the celebrity, nevert heless did not know the author personally. Consider, for example, Samuel Taylor Coleridges obituary in the August 1834

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14 edition of the London Times Coleridges obituary exemplifie s the drama of connection that would later be translated into a narrative of the po ets immortality. The obituary describes Coleridges death as the quenc hing in the darkness of another of the few bright stars which remained to us. The intimate feeling between au thor and reader is here made into a public spectacle and the brightness of the celebritys au ra is described on a cosmic level. The obituary also notes that Coleridges celeb rity makes most of his exploits unnecessary to repeat. The image of a life, so well known to the pub lic that most of it needs no repe tition, is contrasted with the description of a private funera l at the end of the obituary: Many of the admirers of his great attainments and his high literary fame and reputation would have wished to attend, but they were not invited, some even excluded by his friends who had the conduct of his funeral, and who we re best acquainted with the dislike of the deceased to empty ostentation. Coleridges celebrity is made even more myst erious and desirable by the private nature of his funeral, where his closest fr iends and those who knew him best reject the mere admirer and his lack of real feeling. Proper m ourning, in this case, is the perf ormance of real feeling based on a close relationship with the re mains of the dead. Improper mour ning is empty feeling based on false knowledge and fake affectation. The play between proper and improper mourning, I argue, fixes the celebritys death to a dialectic between true and fals e feeling. The tr ue friends at Coleridges funeral reinforce his memory as a poet dedicated to truth by excluding those who were not already closely acquain ted with him. By rejecting th e showy fan, Coleridges true friends buttress the poets claims to authenticity and prove that his notorie ty is worthy of being immortalized. More dramatically, it is the problem of Cole ridges fame that crea tes the conditions for remembering him after death. The need for his frie nds and family to create a private memorial attempts to protect a delicate pr ivate life that is threatened by the many admirers who know his

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15 work. If the friend constructs a real depiction of the celebrity that is ba sed on true feeling for celebrities lives and respect for their reputati on, the admirer is busy creating stories based on empty feeling and incomplete knowledge. As we shall see, the confronta tion between friend and admirer complicates the construction of the celeb ritys immortality, memorializing the celebrity in a mixture of authorized and unauthorized hi stories, biographies, films, comic books, and fiction. The afterlife, in my study, designates this uncertain space of literary immortality, particularly the depiction and a ppropriation of the Romantic cel ebrity in postmodern film and fiction. As of yet, there is no full-length study co nnecting Romantic celebrity to the afterlives of the Romantic author. My project does not valorize either authorized or un authorized versions of the Romantic celebrity, but instead shows how the figure of death in both reflects the fear of losing a connection with the author. In many of th e texts I consider, celebrities are portrayed as dying, engaged in activities that pr ophesy their death, or as haun ting other characters after death. This tendency is common in many of the texts that cite Romantic authors or feature them as a character. Peter Ackroyds Chatterton (1987), for example, depicts the suicide of Thomas Chatterton caused by the poets feelings of inadequacy and inability to escape poverty. William Gibson and Bruce Sterlings steampunk thriller The Difference Engine (1992) features Byron and Keats as aging poets turned into scientists a nd politicians after the early invention of the computer in the nineteenth cen tury. Byron dies during the nove l, and his death signifies the annihilation of poetic discourse by a sudden surge in tec hnological innovation. Amanda Pranteras Conversations with Lord Byron on perve rsion, 163 years after his lordships death (1987) features a computer programmed to th ink and respond as Lord Byron. By linking

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16 celebrity with death, these appropriations reveal literary immortality to be a discourse dependent upon loss, forgetting, and incomplete knowledge. I reveal conflicts over the mour ning of the celebrity by juxtap osing obituaries, biographies, and literary criticism surrounding the death of Romantic authors with the appearance of these celebrities in postmodern comic books, film, nov els, and hypertext fiction. I also analyze a degraded belief in the Romantic authors immortality in postmodern texts by comparing the image of the dead celebrity to th e anxieties of academics fearing the ruin of their connection to the past. The language of ruin and confinement is used by Frederic Jameson to analyze a certain strand of postmodern historicism that acknowledge s a faded connection to the historical past. I use this analysis to align my pr oject to what he calls postmodernis ms crisis in historicity (22). For Jameson, the historical novel can no longer gaze directly at the historical past but must be confined to pop images on a screen that can only reveal the simulacrum of history: If there is any realism left here, it is a realism that is meant to derive from the shock of grasping that confinement and of slowly beco ming aware of a new and original historical situation in which we are condemned to s eek History by way of our own pop images and simulacra of that history, which itsel f remains forever out of reach. (25) For Jameson, postmodernism designates the histor ical period in which realism is obscured by pop history. He argues that postmodernism condemns historians to the endless repetition of simulation and forces them to abandon the realis m of history for the perpetual reproduction of pop images. Searching for historical realism, Jameson finds only pop images that constitute a loss of realism. While I agree w ith the historical problem iden tified by Jameson, my response to postmodernism differs from his because I do not s eek to historicize this loss or recapture a history obscured by the af terlives of Romanticism. I argue th at the postmodern simulacrum of history calls for a new approach to analyzing the afterlife. This new approach takes into consideration the tension between the simulation of history and the reced ing connection of the

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17 historian to historical realism. I read this tension as a double history between the Romantic celebritys death and immortal ity. My invocation of double recalls the categories of the uncanny double, mourning and melancholy, and n ecessitates a turn to psychoanalysis. By double, I am referring to Freuds unders tanding of repetition and doubling in The Uncanny Freud suggests that doubles are characters w ho are to be consider ed identical because they look alike (210). Repetition, on the other hand, includes the consta nt recurrence of the same thingthe repetition of the same features or character traits, or even the same names through several consecutive generations (210). Re petition involves the re pressed recognition of sameness that structures histor y and memory alike. Repetition and doubling began, for Freud and Otto Rank, with the desire of the ego to preserve itself after death. The soul is created as the first double of the body, to outlast the body and provide immortality for the narcissistic ego. After narcissism has been surpassed, the double ceases to promise preservation and instead becomes the uncanny harbinger of death ( 211). I reflect the ro les of the double as pr eserver and harbinger of death in the section division of my chapters These divisions show how the tropes of mourning associated with Romantic celebrity are repeated in fictional depictions of the Romantic author. The section divisions also juxta pose images of the dead Romantic celebrity from the nineteenth century with their repetition in postmodern texts to stage Jamesons conflict between receding realism and the emergence of pop-history. As a study of doubling and preservation, my use of double history investigates the impact of a receding historical realism on the mourning of Romantic celebrity. Freud defined mourning as the reaction to the loss of a loved person, or to the loss of some abstraction which has taken the place of one, such as ones country, liberty, an ideal and so on (310). He attempts to distinguish mourning from melancholy by sugges ting that melancholy is an example of

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18 pathological mourning, and by drawing distinctions between mourning patients who hate the world and melancholic patients who hate them selves (317). Melancholic patients are seen refusing to let go of the dead. My study is c onceptualized around the categories Freud provided in these essays, but transposes them onto schol arly and academic issues surrounding a proper or improper way to attend to the dead Romantic au thor. I employ concepts like ruin, necrophilia, academic realism, materiality, and the literary crypt to illustrate different methods of Romantic memorialization tied to the process of mour ning. My project does not give a history of memorializing the Romantic afterl ife. Such a project has alrea dy been undertaken for individual Romantic authors in texts like Steve Clar k and Masashi Suzukis edited collection The Reception of Blake in the Orient and Atara Steins The Byronic Hero in Film, Fiction, and Television Instead, I attempt to trace a certain parallelism between the mourning of the Romantic celebrity in the nineteenth century and the mourning of the Romantic celebrity during postmodernism. The psychoanalytic and institu tional concepts I employ in my chapters allow me to give different theoretical accounts of this parallelism. The double history surrounding the d eath of Romantic celebrity is also a method used to investigate a series of episodes surrounding the dec line of literary studies. These episodes take the form of short vignettes placed at the beginn ing and end of each chapter, providing a frame for my reading of mourning and Roman tic afterlives. My purpose is to provide an impression of the anxiety associated with the death of literary studies by linking this anxiety thematically to the concerns of the chapter. Defini ng literary studies opens a verita ble Pandoras box of issues that have characterized many of the debates in Englis h Departments for decades. Thus I will provide a simple definition to start addressing the more complex theoretical issues pertinent to my project. Literary studies defines a field within the English Department that is associated with

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19 what John Guillory has called the values of the old bourgeoisie. For Guillory, the old bourgeoisie valued literature becau se it provided what he define sthrough a reading of Pierre Bourdieuas cultural capital: a cultural system of exchange based on power and status (viii-xi). With the rise of the new class, and its loss of interest in older cultural symbols of class, the value of literary study has declin ed. While I agree with Guillory that the definition of literature has been a class issue, and that the emergence of the new class system within the framework of globalization signals the end of a certain form of literary cultural capital, I also agree with Michael Brub who argues that the end of this sense of cultural capital does not necessarily signal either the death of literary studies or the end of the English Department.1 I am more interested in how the image of d eath and the mourning of the celebrity provide a language for literary academics confronting marginalization and how their responses are reflected in the reception of the Romantic authors afterlives. I approach lite rary studies, in this way, as an effect of the double, a persistence left over from the remains of Guillorys old bourgeoisie that inspires mourni ng. I am, however, more interest ed in the process of mourning than I am in the real or imagined state of the institution. Romanticism, in the episodes I cover in my project, rethinks the role of academics conf ronting the end of literary studies by connecting mourning to the death experienced by the celebrity. Much of the work on the end of literary studies foregrounds marginalization as a consequence of lost connections between the teaching of English and nationalism. It is in the distin ction between national spirit and institutional loss 1 Brub suggests that while the cultural value of literatu re might have declined, English graduates remain highly employable. not because they mark their recipients as literate, well-rounded young men and women who can allude to Shakespeare in business memos, but because they mark their recipi ents as people who can potentially negotiate a wide range of intellectual tasks and handle (in various ways) disparate kinds of textual material. (22-3)

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20 that I situate my discussion of the death of literary studies. I r ead these texts as evidence of a larger trend in the mourning of literary studies that associates the disciplines past with life, and fears a certain kind of disciplinary death sometime in the near future. Bill Readingss The University in Ruins, for example, includes an entire chapter on the development of literary studies in the late nineteenth century. The birth of literary studies occurs, for Readings, as a contrast with the emerging scientific and industr ial culture of the ninet eenth century and as a cultural vehicle for the spread of nationalism. Its status as the preeminent discipline of the University, moreover, is also shown to be largely responsible fo r its identity as a discipline. Therefore once the link between literary study and the formati on of the model citizen has been broken, then literature emerges as one field among others making the literary canon the arbitrary delimitation of a field of knowledge (an archive) rather than as the vessel that houses the vital principle of the national spirit (86). In stead of enjoying prestige, fame, and notoriety as the center of the University, literary studies is seen as arbitrary and ultimately irrelevant. Readingss account of the declining importance of literary study is especially pertinent to my project because it registers this loss in terms of vitality and spirit. The English Department is seen as a direct link or embodiment of national sp irit turned into a hollow, arbitrary field whose institutional space is filled with ruin and decay. Spirit provides a language to discuss the disjunction between literature and its vitality. As a spirit, lit erary study can animate the body of the nation-state; as an arbitrar y delimitation, literary study is nothing more than a hideous double of spirit and life. The distinct ion between vital spirit and ar bitrary delimitation fixes the discourse of ruin into a narrative of life and d eath. What was once aliv e and vital, connected naturally and logically to the nation-state, is seen now as empty and arbitrary, persisting only as a phantasm of life.

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21 I argue that the appearance of this phantasm is a symptom of a certain institutional malaise that relies upon the following belie fs: that literary studies was once somehow vital and coherent, that academics could connect to this living inst itution by engaging in lite rary study, and that now this connection has been degraded by the dissolution of the field. Furthermore, these assumptions are analogous to the beliefs of fans who personally feel the loss connected to the dying Romantic celebrity: that the celebrity was a real person, that poetry or writing connected fans to the personal life of the celebrity, and that the intr usion of the admirers empty ostentation can somehow degrade or frustrate connec tions to the past. I trace these analogies as part of a larger analysis of the symptoms governing the conne ction or disconnection between contemporary readers and writers from th e British Romantic period. Other work on the marginalization of literary studies also circles around the problem of a lost connection between the academic reader and literary writer, and the displacement of literature from the discourse of national identity. Gayatri Spivaks Death of a Discipline argues that comparative literature cannot continue to id entify with national identities, yet struggles with an alternative to the figure of the individual author as a locus of study. J. Hillis-Millers On Literature acknowledges that literary studies is dyi ng due to the exodus of scholars from canonical texts and their movement towards film and popular culture. Derek Attridges The Singularity of Literature appeals to the inability of literatu re to be defined as a sign of its persistence even in the possibili ty that literature is displaced by other objects of study. Both Stephen Greenblatts and Marjorie Perlo ffs addresses to the MLA, in 2002 and 2006 respectively, emphasize the need for reconnection with the ghosts of the dead and highlight the spectral role of literature in the English Department. The rhetoric surrounding these texts speaks of a transition from literary studi ess living past to its persistence beyond death as a double of its

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22 former self. By juxtaposing these texts with the depiction of the dead Ro mantic celebrity, I show how the language of death reveals an institution struggling to iden tify and attend to the ghosts it sees emerging from the once vital body of literary studies. Romanticism and the Cult of Celebrity uses readings of the Romantic celebrity in historical episodes and postmodern texts to show how the postmodern reception of Romanticism inspires, reflects, or reacts to fears of the marg inalization of literature and literary studies. The chapters are organized thematicall y. Each chapter reads a historical or theoretical problem in the memorialization of the Romantic celebrity, and then juxtaposes th at problem with a particular postmodern work fictionally recreating or approp riating Romantic celebrities in a narrative of death and mourning. These chapters also investig ate Romantic celebrities in different media, demonstrating the impact of literary death on ne w forms of communication increasingly studied in English Departments. Chapter 2 explores the transformation of the Roma ntic celebritys dead body from an object of mystical veneration to a physical object consumed by academic and popular audiences. The obituaries and early biogra phies figure Blake as a character revered by literary occultists and spiritualists who saw his my stical poetry and his eccen tric life as knowable only by a select group that can decode the poets hidden m eaning. I then look at more contemporary accounts of Blakes death that focu s on the physical and medical conditions that brought about the end of his life. Instead of hiding mystery and promising transcendence, Blakes death is reduced to a physical event experienced by a phys ical body. By examining these accounts, I link the transformation in attitudes over the celebritys death to the scholarly focus on materiality in Blake studies. I then argue that both reflect an academic institution anxiously managing its own ruin as it abandons the ideolo gical argument over Blakes work and focuses increasingly on the physi cal remains of his body.

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23 The second section of Chapter 2 read s Alan Moore and Eddie Campbells From Hell (2000), where both Blakes afterlif e and the story of the Whitechap el murders are appropriated in an allegory of the rise of mass media. Blake, referre d to either in conversati ons or depicted in the visions of murderers, is made into a symbol of a fading literary and mystical past. I argue that while Moore shows empathy for the mystic past and mourns the loss of mystery tied to that past, he also removes himself from the psychologica l horror of the Ripper murders and a direct connection with Blakes visions. William Blake, in both From Hell and in the accounts surrounding his death, embodies a shift for the cele brity between a litera ry death and a death mediated by the increasingly forensic imagination of the twentieth century. Literary death, in my analysis, is linked with myster y, depth, and mysticism. Forensic death is linked with the emerging technologies of the mass media and th e interdisciplinary pol itics of an English Department where the celebrity is turned into a material and physical corpse. An analysis of the institutional fetishism associated with the authorial corpse is articulated more fully in Chapter 3, which examines the necrophilic fantasies surr ounding Romantic literary culture. I begin with Byrons co rpse and the accounts of friends lovers, and fans who wrote about seeing his body after the poets death in Gr eece. The Byronic corpse is not only made into an object of intimacy and desire, but is also c onstructed to embody an authenticity that many of these figures fear that they do not have. I also link the construction of Byrons corpse as an object of desire to theories of necrophilia defining the libidinal atta chment to the corpse as a sign of pathological mourning. The accounts surrounding Byrons corpse assured readers that the authenticity associated with Byrons poetry a nd his life had not disappeared when Byron died, and substituted the authenticity Byron signified fo r the physical characterist ics of his corpse. The

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24 fan of Byrons poetry is transformed, by an authenticity figured in the substitution of poetic truth for the presence of the corpse, into a necrophiliac. My discussion of intimacy and n ecrophilia is transposed to th e ruined University in the second section of Chapter 3. This section fo cuses on Byrons spectral presence in J. M. Coetzees Disgrace (1999), a novel that traces the fate of a University in South Africa through the character David Lurie. The increasingly mo ralizing tone of Luries colleagues and the corporatizing practices of his University are cont rasted with a professors personal interest in communicating the beliefs of Byron to his student s. Luries invocation of Byron is a desperate attempt to cling onto the intimacy and authenticity his celebrity signifies against the academics sense of isolation and marginality. It is an example of what I call in the chapter academic necrophilia: a tendency on the part of academics to sublimate fears about the marginalization of literature by claiming intimacy with dead literary celebrities. Lurie attaches himself to the corpse of the Romantic celebrity and the ruined carcass of the University as signifiers of authenticity and intimacy, but by doing so fails to challenge the corporatization of education. By looking at the historical and fictional necrophilia associated with Byron, I show how the corpse transforms promises of intimacy into necrophilia and construc ts the celebritys remain s as a connection to a personality that signifies both hi storical and poetic authenticity. Chapter 4 connects the celebritys claim to auth enticity with what I call academic realism: the belief that the academic has a special relationship with the dead. Academic realism is an extension of the intimacy construc ted by the celebrity between them selves and the fan. I begin by looking at literary biography, which is seen by sc holars as a dangerous genre lurking somewhere between popular and academic cultures. By an alyzing Mary Shelleys 1831 introduction to Frankenstein a text written for fans that demanded information on the composition of the novel,

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25 I reveal that the intrusion of the gothic into Marys narrative complicates its claim to realism. Some of the events clearly happened, yet others were invented to reflect the gothic conventions of Shelleys novel. I, then, turn to biographi cal discussions of the summer in Radu Florescus In Search for Frankenstein (1975) and Dorothy an d Thomas Hooblers The Monsters: The Curse of Frankenstein (2006). Both biographies stress the gothi c nature of the events during a summer and their uncanny role in determining the fate of Mary Shelleys circle. Ken Russells film Gothic (1987) is characterized in the s econd section of chapter 4 as an example of film invading the cons truction of literary history. Lite rary critics almost universally find Russells film a degraded and violen t representation of the Haunted Summer. Gothic critiques literary produ ction as a ticket to literary immort ality by complicating the desire to directly enter the privat e life of the literary celebrity. The film opens with a group of fans wishing to see inside Byrons Vi lla Diodati and catch a glimpse of the poet. I suggest that this framing device by Russell places th e realism of the entire film into question by linking the viewing of the celebrity with se xuality and desire, and by presenti ng Byron as a shifting phantom unavailable to the direct gaze. I then turn to the phantom of Marys dead baby William, a ghost who haunts Shelley throughout the film and is provi ded as the reason the au thor begins work on Frankenstein. While both Byron and Shelley separate themselves from the rest of the circle by appealing to literary immortality, Gothic never depicts the authors actually writing anything. Finally, I look at the representa tion of the painted image in Gothic as a flattening out of the indexical link to the literary past. An examin ation of the Haunted Summer of 1816, in both its biographic and film representations, reveals the hist orical event as a spectral repetition of fan desire and critiques the separation of history fr om fiction, academic from fan, and life from afterlife.

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26 The depiction of Mary Shelley in Chapter 5 charts the encryption of the Romantic celebritys life in her afterlife. Mary was usually referred to as the relativ e of more famous men: daughter of Godwin, or husband of Percy. I examine how this embedding of the celebrity in a history of her relatives impacts the characteriza tion of Marys melancholy. I also argue that the discourse of melancholy uses a fictional characteriz ation of loss and its ties to writing in Marys novels to seal off or encrypt Marys personality as an object of criticism Reading the diaries and journals that detail the death of Marys mother her children and her husband, I show how critical works analyzing Marys melancholy use fiction to articulate Marys personality as a depressive. I also show how academic criticism of Marys melancholy is commodified a nd marketed in a selfhelp book, as a cure for people suffering from depr ession. Marys celebrity buries her in a crypt of melancholy, sealed off by the academic and comm ercial writers who market her personality to their audiences. The second section of Chapte r 5 applies Marys melanc holic personality to the disappearance of her character and the annihilation of literature in Shelley Jacksons Patchwork Girl (1995). Reviews of Patchwork Girl praise it for bringing the literary experience to hypertext. Yet, I argue that the sl ow disappearance of Mary Shelle y from the text allegorizes the evacuation of literatures significance to hypertext. Patchwork Girl, a hypertext presented in a series of screens that open and close, buries Mary Shelley inside her creature. The journal section of the hypertext begins in Marys point of view, and then switches to the monster, who ingests a sliver of Marys flesh in memory of the author. Ma ry is referred to less and less often in the latter portion of the text, until her name disappears completely. I sh ow how the same text designed to preserve literature also narrates the annihilation of the authorial persona. Patchwork Girl both preserves and destroys literature by reducing the depiction of Ma ry Shelley to a blank screen

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27 labeled M/S. This screen operates as a blank signifier, preserving a trace of Marys name without any content. Marys pr eservation in Jacksons text onl y occurs by effacing her memory. By examining the encryption of fiction and litera ture in Mary Shelleys afterlife, I link the fantasy of literary preservation to th e erasure of the authorial persona. All of these texts foreground the death of Romantic celebr ity to stage a confrontation between literary reading, academia, popular audi ences and the mass media. As academic figures are portrayed lamenting the end of literary study, filmmakers, hypertext authors, and comic book writers depict the waning of literature by contrasting a mythical past with an uncertain future. As I show in my chapters, several academics fear a disruption between themselves and the authors they teach in their classrooms. Postmodern appropriations of Ro manticism reflect, diagnose, and mock that anxiety, and in the process reveal th e literary afterl ife as a playground of ghosts and specters.

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28 CHAPTER 2 OCCULT BLAKEANA: THE DEATH OF LITERATURE, THE MANAGEMENT OF RUIN, AND ALAN MOORE AND E DDIE CAMPBELLS FROM HELL It is commonplace to suggest that William Bl akes fame is mostly posthumous in nature. Blakes notoriety is based on his conversations with dead prophets and philosophers and the numerous writers who decided to argue for his inclusion in the li terary canon after his death. His poetic allusions to specters, ghosts, bones, and graves have fixed him in the eyes of some critics as belonging more to the trad ition of eighteenth-cent ury graveyard poets than to the more extravagant Romantic poets of the nineteenth cent ury. The centrality of death in Blakes rise to literary status is, in fact, such a widely accep ted idea that Andrew Bennett, who excluded Blake from his study of the posthumous reception to Romantic period poets, had to include an apologetic endnote. Bennett knows that Blakes ab sence might be seen as perverse, yet he argues that Blakes actual obscurity is a very different problem from th e cultural production of the neglected genius during the Romantic period (203). While Blake does not fit into the more accepted nineteenth-century forms of obscurity touted by Bennett, his posthumous characterization by poets and academics emphasizes neglect to frame his appeal. Blake is celebrated to the degree that he is depicted as marginal, poor, de graded and, above all, dead. As Christoph Ehland has said of John Keats, Blake is seen as a poet whose paths of glory began in the grave (391). The story of Blakes posthumous fame can be s een as an allegory for more recent attempts to reinscribe literature as a central genre for study in English Departments. J. Hillis-Millers On Literature (2002) recasts the importance of literature in the ashes of its death. He suggests that the death of literature is occurr ing with the loss of funding, the digitalization of literary works like those of the William Blake Archive, and the shift of disciplinar y emphasis from literary to popular culture and film by newer scholars. Yet he also suggests that literature has a certain

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29 power to go on signifying in the total abse nce of any phenomenal referent, generating imaginative spaces beyond its institutional ones ( 16). Millers characteri zation of literature resists, by dying, the real economic entities pois ed against it. Derek A ttridge picks up this hyperbolic role of literature in The Singularity of Literature (2004), where the power of the literary is seen as a result of a theoretical inabil ity to define literature. Its singularity is a product of its being beyond institutional methods of understanding. These texts articulate a spectral property to literature in its relati onship to the English Department that is central to this chapter. Literature may have lost its place institutionall y, according to Miller and Attridge, but some property persists after institutional and theoretical failures to articulate a single field for literary discourse. Literatures persiste nce, like that of Blakes fa me, is articulated as a ghostly singularity whose power resi des in death and failure. This chapter examines this spectral persis tence of literature by analyzing the politics surrounding Blakes death. I argue th at depictions of Blakes deat h appropriate the remains of the poet in both institutional and popular cont roversies surrounding the perceived demise of literature. The character of these depictions reflects what I call an interdisciplinary management culture embedded in Blakes afterlife persona. My reading of this culture is indebted to Marc Bousquets suggestion that the fiel d of rhetoric and composition has turned towards what he calls pragmatic philosophies. The pragmatic philosophi es driving composition studies act to manage competing ideological positions and fix the Writing Program Administrator as a medium between the interests of administration and the in terests of graduate assistants. Bousquet argues that the debunking of critical th eory and cultural studies has acquired no traction outside the field of rhetoric and composition (175). I argue, on the other ha nd, that this managerial ethos has infiltrated the critical a nd popular reception of William Blake, delegating his persona to

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30 policing the boundaries between lite rature and the mass media, iden tity, and interdisciplinarity. While the management of composition involves the debunking of critical theory, I argue that the management of Blake focuses theory around identity positions in conflict and then works to turn that conflict into compromise. William Blake as a managerial persona, in this way, reflects an attempt to control the spectral form of literature. The first section focuses on a transition in th e way Blakes death is depicted from those characterizing him as an eccentric, mystical figure in obituaries and biographies in the nineteenth century to more recent academic criticism that focuses on his physical body. I suggest that such academic accounts parallel the crit ical interest in analyzing the material composition of Blakes illuminated poetry. Both developments are symptomatic of an academic culture employing an interest in the material artifact to manage and balance what is seen as a ruined connection to the literary past. The second section looks at Alan Moore and Eddie Campbells depiction of Blake in From Hell (2000) as an allegory for the death of the mystic and the loss of literary meaning. Moores inability to fully sympathize with what he sees as Blakes mysticism forces him to portray the poet policing the bounda ries between mystical enthusia sm and ritual violence. To keep William Gulls ritual violence in check, William Blake captures his enthusiasm in a painting that signifies the darker side of mysticism and encloses Gulls more violent fantasies. I see Moore and Campbells comic in a wider sens e, charting and enacting the disciplining of mystical enthusiasm and the creation, in its place, of the interna tional media corporation.2 Blakes afterlife conspires with literary nostalgia to manage both the fantasies of the killer and the anxieties of the literary academic. As a pos thumous celebrity, then, William Blakes death 2 I use the terms comic book, comics, and comic instead of graphic novel mostly due to Alan Moores stated preference of the former over th e latter. In a 2000 interview with Barr y Kavanaugh, Moore stated that graphic novel is not a term that Im very comfortable with due to its tendency to be a marketing term that came to mean expensive comic book. While many of Alan Moores texts are referred to as graphic novels, most of them were first published as a series of comic book issues.

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31 acts as a blank, physical screen upon which the co mic artist and the academic can project their anxieties over the demise of mystical thought and the ruin of literary culture. The Many Deaths of William Blake How m any times has Blake died? One year before his death, William Blake signs in the autograph book of William Upcott WILLIAM BLAK E one who is very much delighted with being in good company / Born 28 Nov, 1757 in London & has died several times since (E. 675).3 Most critics have suggested this statement to be part of Blak es larger criti que of modern subjectivity. Wayne Glausser places the autogr aph in the larger Blakean motif of selfannihilation, arguing that Blake engaged in a Foucauldian criti que of selfhood and biopolitics. Kathleen Lundeen sees the autograph as part of Bl akes critique of origins and approaches it in her Derridean reading of Tyger, suggesting that the animals origins are forever obscured by its many births. And Jeremy Tambling sets the autograph against the Nietzschean proclamation of the posthumous self: authors who write from the belief that they are already dead.4 In each account, the question of Blakes many deaths figures prominently as a hermeneutic device engaged in fixing Blakes mystique as a writer whose reflections about death inform his work. The writing surrounding Blakes bi ological death, however, rema ins a much smaller topic for critical discussion. In this sect ion, I argue that depict ions of Blakes death reflect the status of literature as first a discourse of mysticism and revelation and then as a discourse of identity, physicality, and disciplinarity. S oon after Blakes death, these depi ctions focused on his mystical identity as reasons for incor porating him into the canon of lite rary authors. More recently, 3 Unless otherwise stated, all references to Blakes poetry comes from David Erdmans Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake, hereafter referred to in parenthetical citations as E. 4 See Glaussers Locke and Blake: A Conversation Across the Eighteenth Century Lundeens Knight of the Living Dead: William Blake and the Problem of Ontology and Tamblings Becoming Posthumous: Life and Death in Literary and Cultural Studies respectively for these arguments.

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32 Blakes physical body has displaced interest in his mystical identity. Two broad interests dominate the discourse surrounding Bl akes death. The first celebrates his death as ascension to a higher plane where Blake emerges as a prophet whose eccentric personality suggests connections with life after death. The sec ond, characterized most dramatic ally with the publication of Blakes Death by Lane Robison and Joseph Viscom i, medicalizes his final days and treats the poets death as a physical ev ent. In the beginning of Radical Blake Shirley Dent and Jason Whittaker briefly note this contrast between my thology and materialism as an example of the proliferate nature of Blakes vision. Blake in spires both the materia list and the mythographer just as he inspires the lone mystic as well as the gregarious revoluti onary (13). My account, on the other hand, articulates how the many deaths of Blake constitute him as both a mystical figure, in that his notoriety is based on his mystical eccentricity, and a figure for the postmodern English Department, as his numerous identities are made to manage disciplinary borders. Blakes many deaths, in other words, serve to balance and re flect the many identity positions held by his increasingly interdisciplinary cultural critics. Th e survival of William Blake as a relevant literary figure, here, is dependent upon his ability to occupy several different disciplinary positions simultaneously. Blakes autograph regarding his many deaths is reported by an obituary in one of the first notices about the poets passing in the September 1827 issue of The Monthly Magazine The obituary ends its notice with an autograph, punctuating the se ntence with three exclamation marks suggesting Blakes eccentric a udacity. It is this audacity, th e author of the obituary claims, that secures Blakes fame and greatness. The death notice functions primarily as posthumous publicity for the now dead poet, suggesting that he is one of those ingenious persons which every age has produced, whose eccentricities were st ill more remarkable than their professional

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33 abilities, the memory of which ex tra circumstances have largely contributed to the perpetuation of their fame (BR 351).5 The statement made by Blake that he died several deaths and that he talked to dead spirits is taken as evidence of his eccentricity. The author of the obituary admits that he cannot agree with Blakes belief in supernatural spirits, but suggests that this extraordinary and seemingly impossible intuitio n makes his art worthy of critical attention. Astonishingly, the obituary goes on, Blake was neith er a raving lunatic nor was he the only one who believed he saw the dead. Appreciating Blake s art, according to this obituary, lends the possibility of connecting with an extraord inary mind that saw the world of the dead.6 The promise of a connection with the supernat ural drives the author of the obituary to excitement and hyperbole that eventually takes ov er the earlier somber tone of the notice. The author mentions the composition of what he ca lls Blakes The Man Flea (named Ghost of a Flea by Blake). The author describes The Man Flea as tracing the line between the sublime and the ridiculous. The flea appariti on begins speaking to Blake, de scribing how initially it was designed to be as large as a human being, but soon the designer was worried, I should have been 5 Two texts that are invaluable in this study are G. E. Bentleys Blake Records, which include many of the obituaries I cite here and Joseph Wittreichs Nineteenth-Century Accounts of William Blake Bentleys texts will hereafter be cited with the initials BR, while Wittreichs will be re ferenced with his name. See also Suzanne Hoovers groundbreaking essay William Blake in the Wilderness: A Closer Look at his Reputation, 1827-1863, for a good reading of his reception in the nineteenth century. 6 See Joseph Viscomis argument that Blake was essentially stylized as an artists artist available only to a few due to the small amounts of prints that were made of his visionary heads and sketches between 1827 and 1863. For Viscomi, the nature and aesthetic of his new reproductive process affected the kinds of work selected and excluded for reproduction, the result of which was to emphasize Blak e the printmaker and poet rather than the painter (Blake after 215). See also Crabb Robinsons letter to Dorothy Wordsworth in which he had hoped to introduce Blakes work. Robinson states that Blake is, like Jacob Boheme and Sw edenborg, a visionary who lives: in a world of his own, enjoying co nstant intercourse with the world of spirits. He receives visits from Shakespeare, Milton, Dante, Voltaire, etc. etc. etc., and has given me re peatedly their very words in their conversations. His paintings are copies of what he saw in his Visions. His books (and his MSS. are immense in quality) are dictated from the spirits. He told me yesterday that when he writes it is for the spirits only; he sees the words fly about the room the moment he has put them on paper, and his book is then published. (Wittreich 273-4)

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34 a too mighty destroyer; it was determined to make meno bigger than I am (BR 352). As one of Blakes visionary heads, the fleas story re inforces the authors be lief in Blakes astounding eccentricity. The author then suggests that the imag e is indubitably the most ingenious, and able personification of a devil, or a malignant and powerful fiend that ever emanated from the inventive pencil of a painter (BR 253). The aut hor displaces the questio n of Blakes madness to one of aesthetic genius, translat es the fleas soliloquy into morali stic language denoting evil, and suggests that the dead poets workswith the possi bility that they are c onnected to the realm of the deadcan give us insight into his profound abilitie s. Blake is transformed from a simple eccentric individual to the icon of a poet by i gnoring his madness and focusing on the aesthetic impact of his work. Many of the other obituaries juxtaposed Blake s eccentricity with his artistic ability. The 18 August 1827 edition of the Literary Gazette addressed its obituary wi th the words [t]o those few who have sympathies for the idea and (compara tively speaking) the intellectual in art. It then immediately speaks out against Blakes margin alization, angered that the artist has been allowed to exist in a penury which most artistsbeings necessarily of a sensitive temperament-would deem intolerable (BR 348-9). The artist is both poor and extrao rdinarily sensitive. The Monthly Magazine notes, William Blake, born about the year 1761, was a very remarkable, and a very eccentric character (BR 354). The genius of Blake is based on his marginalized status and his eccentricity. The focus on Blakes oddity permeates most of the first mentions of his name after his death. The 1 November 1827 edition of The Gentlemans Magazine says that Blake was an excellent, but eccentric artist; Charles Lamb called the language of the new edition of John Bunyan published in 1828 Blakes ravings made genteel; and John Varleys Zodiacal Physiognomy (1828) characterizes Blake as so much of an enthusiast, that he could

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35 call up from the vasty deep any spirits or corporeal or other forms desired for the nonce (BR 372). From the beginning, arguments focused on Bl akes eccentricity as a determinant of his fame. Some saw his eccentricity as an unfortunate affliction of an otherwise important artist. Other saw it either as essential to his worthy but limited fame or as evidence that he would never achieve literary notoriety. Frederic Tatham uses these elements of eccentricity and Blakes connection to the supernatural in his celebrated depiction of the poets death. Tath ams account of Blake vacillates between representing him in unearthly pain and depicting him as an angel moving to the next world. Blakes final moments are seen as a s ublime movement from the earthly plane into heaven. Tatham depicts Blake looking over a colored print of the Ancient of Days as he experiences his final attack. He places the print down, saying that hes done all he can to the piece. Blake then draws Catherin es portrait, finishes it, and Began to sing Hallelujahs & songs of joy & Triumph which Mrs. Blake described as being truly sublime in music & in Verse. He sang loudly & with true extatic[sic] energy and seemed too happy that he had finished his course. [] His bursts of gladness made the room peal again. The Walls rang & resounde d with the beatific Symphony. (BR 527-8) For Tatham, Blakes unearthly and sublime music bridges life and death. Blakes spirit departed like the sigh of a gentle breeze & he slept in company with the mighty ancestors he had formerly depicted (BR 528). Tatham transforms the lowly painter and poet into a visionary capable of using language and song to transcend the pain of death. Blakes final scene here characterizes him as a poet and a mystic of the highest order. Catherine says that the music Blake sings is sublime and that the verses sugge sted Blakes joy in ending his ea rthly existence. The walls are physically transformed by the sublimity of Bl akes song, becoming like instruments in a giant orchestra and echoing his unearthly melody. If Blake was poor on Earth, Tatham suggests that

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36 death has made him into a poet of eternity whos e words can literally tran sform the material of Earthly existence. For Alexander Gilchrist, the transcendent rhet oric of Tathams account marked Blake as a poet who was marginalized because of his ability to connect with the sublime worlds of Heaven. Gilchrist begins his biography on Blake and describes him as the one name [that] has been hitherto perseveringly exiled (1). The hyperbole singles out Bl ake as an object remembered by Gilchrist because the mainstr eam literary community has for gotten him. Gilchrist recounts Tathams story of a Blake that died silently with his wife, but also includes a short posthumous section that details the burying of Blake in an unmarked grave without a head stone. This fact gives Gilchrist a strangely satisfied but also frustrated tone in th e conclusion of Blakes biographyBlake is made into a mythological being who is destined to be unknown. Gilchrist depicts a dead Blake wandering aimlessly and lone ly around that drear, sordid Golgotha and dejected in that squalid Hades (408). Blak es Hades and Golgotha are Bunhill Fields, his cemetery, where the lack of a gravestone mark er for his body constitutes the space as a horrid Purgatory. The poets spirit lacks meaning and di rection. Gilchrist sees Blakes true message, and his true self, still obscured by his marginal ity. It is this mystery, marginalization, and absence of a mark for Blakes body that contributes to Gilchrsts sense of Blakes singularity and his call for readers to attend to Blakes work. The belief in a distinct individuality maintain ed by Blakes eccentricity continues in his posthumous Victorian notoriety. Algernon Swinburne calls Blake [t]he greatest English poet except Collins who had the fortune or misfortune to be born into a century far greater in progress than in poetry (v). Blakes marginality, for Sw inburne, is due to a low state of English poetry and a public who does not have the intellectual ca pability to properly ap preciate his art. Dante

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37 Gabriel Rossetti found it almost impossible to place Blakes poetry within a tradition because Blake is so removed from ordinary ideas that it will be impossible to attribute to them any decided place among the impulses which have directed the extraord inary mass of poetry, displaying power of one or another kind, which has been brought before us, from his day to our own (454). For Rossettii, it is th is eccentric personality that makes Blake unique and argues for a literary status above the ex traordinary mass of British poetr y. Shirley Dent has shown that Swinburne and Rossettii, along w ith many other readers of Blake during the Victorian period, suggested the idea of a special reader or singular indivi dual who alone was able to read Blakes poetry. Swinburne and the Pre-Rapha elites, she argues, were cent ral in representing Blake as particularly suited to artists and intellectuals. Ni neteenth-century readers of Blake pointed to his eccentricity as evidence of a special status in literary culture. Blakes singular status as a poet who talked to the dead should be celebrated. Howeve r it requires a particular type of reader to do so. Dents work on Blake also, reveals a symptom that characterizes more contemporary academic texts addressing the poets death. Dent not only decries the elitism of figures like Swinburne and Rossetti and their th eory of a special reader, but also finds it difficult to propose an alternative, since sh e feels that to portray Blake as a popular poet risks not respecting his complexity. Her suggestion is that Blake should be available to everyone, and isnt our Blake, in either the popular or any other se nse. No art that is truly great can remain ours for very long: it is its greatness that transcends time and place [] that makes it universal. Great art is for everyman, not just art heritage l overs. Blake is there fo r the taking (68). Dents article suggests that, now, Blake is there to be taken. By being available to everyone, Bl ake is made a passive object defined by the desires of others or the va guely defined everyman. Dent also enacts an

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38 ideological shift in the appreciation of Blakes literary status. Whereas his nineteenth-century critics emphasized Blakes eccentric ity and difficulty as evidence of his worth to a literary circle, Dents account suggests a need to characterize Blake as a figu re of availability. Blake is positioned as a pragmatic medium between the literary world and the popular world. Once he is available to everyone, his poetry can reflect th e identity and interests of his now limitless audience. Other critics, like David Baulch, also see Blake as operating in a pragmatic space that is available to a multitude of audiences. In a review of Julia Wrights Blake, Nationalism, and the Politics of Alienation Baulch praises Wrights book for w riting within both theoretical and historical approaches to its s ubject and contributing to the a ttempts to more fully theorize history and appropriately historic ize theory. In Baul chs view the balancing of history and theory provides the appropriate pragmatic compromise between two otherwise conflicting disciplinary approaches. In a similar pragmatic vein, the introduction to Steve Clark and Jason Whittakers Blake, Modernity and Popular Culture argues that, [i]n terms of his reception, Blake can be thought of as a self-constituting an d individualist Romantic imagination or as a composite product of intersecting discourses (7 ). The authors argue that the two ways of thinking about Blake are by no means exclusive and conclude that they must be thought together (7). Unwilling to let go of Blakes lite rary status, the theory surrounding late twentiethcentury approaches to literary criticism, historicism, or Blakes identity as an individualist imagination, these texts conjoin seemingly incompatible approaches to literary criticism as a pragmatic compromise to the conflicts of the pa st. Instead of arguing over the appropriateness of William Blake as a literary figure, these texts use Blake to reflect their own compromises over disciplinary identity and critical method.

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39 Walter Benn Michaels argues that this langu age of conflict manageme nt characterizes the contemporary pragmatic culture of what he calls posthistoricism. Abando ning the argument over interpretation and ideology and embracing instead the language of identity and belief, pragmatist readers end up favoring what Michaels calls response over interpreta tion. Criticism abandons arguments over meaning and manages conflicts between identity: The way to defend those beliefs that seem to you true is to give your reasons for believing in them. [] But just as the point of rede scribing your beliefs as your feelings (your interpretations as your responses) is to ma ke arguing for them both irrelevant and impossible. Its impossible because you cant gi ve any reasons that justify your feelings (the most you can do is explain why you have them); its irrelevant because you dont need any reasons to justify your feelings. Youre enti tled to them without having to justify them. (77) The culture of identity and belief is, furthermore, connected to the more widespread interest in the material or physical features of literary textswhich also pr ivileges individual experience. [A]nyone who thinks the text c onsists of its physical features (of what Derrida calls its marks) will be required also to think that the meaning of the text is crucially determined by the experience of its readers, and so th e question of who the reader isand the commitment to the primacy of identity as suchis built into the commitment to the materiality of the signifier. (13) In this sense, an interest in the management of academic identity is figured in the shift from considering Blake a mystical eccentric whose mean ing is decipherable only by a select class, to considering Blake as a mediator between cl asses, disciplines a nd critical methods.7 Indeed, the attention to the ma terial features of Blakes texts has formed a fundamental part of Blake criticism for at least the past twenty years. Th e Santa Cruz Blake Study Group, for instance, criticized David Erdmans Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake in 1984 for its 7 Michaels is vague about when posthistoricism began, though his subtitle 967 to the end of history suggests that 1967 was a pivotal year. In fact, Michael ss historical argument is the weakest part of the book. This is despite the books stated intention to chart a historical disciplinary sh ift. While I find Michaelss book relies too much on false dichotomies (we either embrace identity politics and materiality or we return to ideology and meaning, for example), I also find his commitment to understanding the ideological roots of identity politics important to my analysis of Blakes status as a poet who can be made available to different identity groups.

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40 lack of attention to the spatial form of Blakes poems. Joseph Viscomis massive 1993 work, Blake and the Idea of the Book extended this critique. It explai ns in detail, the technical process by which Blakes material texts came into being. As Blake is made to mediate between different identity positions, schola rs become increasingly interested in the material text as a site for criticism. Justin Van Kleek spends an entire article in the Summer 2005 edition of Blake: an Illustrated Quarterly analyzing the mark above Zoas on the title page of Blakes poem Vala or the Four Zoas. According to Van Kleek, the mark resembles an apostrophe and should be discussed in newer editions of hi s collected works. He mentions that he believes the mark to be intentional, but only provides suggestions for its possible meaning. Material form is treated as an institutional fetish for the academic scholar to ha ve some physical connection to a William Blake who has been, otherwise, framed and refram ed by the conflict be tween individual and disciplinary belief. The treatment of Blakes death in these more contemporary academic accounts is, likewise, interested only in the phys ical body. They also attempt to manage the dispute between mythological accounts of Blake disappearing ge ntly into the night and the more physical accounts of Blake dying in horrible pain. Aileen Ward, a proponent of the physical version of Blakes death, suggests that the poet died of a ruptured gall bladder with peritonitis, an infection caused by excess bile spilling into the abdomen. Sh e critiques the mystical accounts of Blakes death for suggesting that Blake could accomplish any work during the last stages of his life (15). The call for a more complete, biological and medical account of Blakes death by Ward reverses the desire to see Blake as a mystical figure, a nd attempts to open the secrets of his body and reveal them to be simply a set of physical proces ses. Blake is seen, not as an extraordinary figure with ties to the supernatural, but as a physical body with processes th at match other physical

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41 bodies. This normal individual might have writ ten interesting poems and produced beautiful prints, but nevertheless was (at his core) a physi cal body with physical ailments that eventually brought about Blakes completely physical death. Lane Robinson and Joseph Viscomis essay Bla kes Death uses it s diagnosis, sclerosing cholangitis with periods of remission and rela pse, to provide a compromise between Wards account and the description of Bl akes quiet death provided by Ta tham. They reinforce Tathams belief in a quiet death, but explain that quiet de ath in entirely physical terms and consider the death a physical event. I consider their essay in detail not only because it is a foundational contemporary text describing the death, but also because the commitment of the authors to the medical conditions surrounding Blakes demise is I argue, symptomatic of the treatment of Blake as a physical and materialist body. Their essay begins with an epigraph from plate 14 of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell depicting the iconoclastic method Blake used to produce his illuminated books. Blake says But first the notion that man has a distinct body from his soul, is to be expunged; this I shall do, by printing in the infernal method, by corrosives, wh ich in Hell are salutary and medicinal, melting apparent surfaces away and displaying the infinite which was hid (qtd. on 36). The epigraph is ironic on two levels. First, Viscomi and Robins ons account seeks to physicalize Blakes earlier more spiritual and mystical death scenes. Sec ond, the authors argue th at Blakes sclerosing cholangitis was brought on by chronic copper intoxicat ion caused by years of relief etching in his print studio. The corrosives, then, literally ate away at Blakes health as they aesthetically merged his spiritual beliefs with this artistic practice. If the corrosive acids are medicinal, they are also most certainly harmful. Robinson and Viscomi seek to demystify the mystical accounts of Blakes death that suggest he was singing hymns when he died and that, as Tatham reports, he

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42 looked more like an angel than a man. The aut hors see Blake as a demystified body stripped of spiritual pretensions, and they sugge st the proper critical stance is largely clinical and reconciles all of the extant symptomatological evidence. Robinson and Viscomi begin their analysis of Blakes illness by noting several features that are common in individuals who suffer from Irritable Bowel Disease, a chronic autoimmune condition that can frequently lead to sclerosing cholangitis. Blake is said to have first developed the symptoms of IBD during his yo uth, a claim the authors back up with diary entries referring to the stomach flus he experienced as a young boy. The final stages of his disease, in the Robinson/Viscomi account, take place about 29 m onths before his death. During this time, shivering fits and fevers send Blake into an acc elerated pattern of remission and relapse. These symptoms compare with the development of he morrhoids caused by many sufferers of billary cirrhosis, or an untreatable form of gradual li ver failure caused by the constriction of blood flow. Billary cirrhosis is sometimes cited as a complication of sclerosing cholangitis. These conditions, the authors argue, combine to show a steady pattern of decline for the last two years of Blakes life. While he was declining, however Blake would still experience periods of relative health, explaining the completion of several commissioned works in the years before his death. The pattern of decline mixed with remission and relapse suggests for Robinson and Viscomi that Wards account of pain and Cath erine Blakes belief that her husband died an angel are probably both correct, though they are of different stages of the illness (43). The authors mention that Blake proba bly developed pulmonary edema, which would leave Blake in a semi-comotose state for his final two days. The authors explain Blakes physical condition using Catherines words and suggest that it is unlikely that he awoke in his last hours with the energy to color, draw, sing and talk. Far more likely, he entered his eternal rest li ke an infant to its sleep, and while asleep,

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43 experienced a calm and painless withdrawal of breath. A believable scenario is that Blake went to sleep, his breat hing slowed, an episode of apnea developed, and he never woke again. Alternately, Blake went to sl eep, his breathing slowed, his blood oxygen level decreased, he experienced a heart a ttack, and he never woke up. (44) Robinson and Viscomi treat Blakes body as a phys ical object and suggest, in purely physical terms, that Blake could never sing or draw on th e day of his death. However their account also attempts to reconcile the claims that Blakes lif e reflected his artistic melancholic persona with those that claim Blakes death to have been a st eep descent into deepeni ng pain. The pattern of relapse and remission caused by IBD allows Blak e to experience both periods of pain and periods of health. And their account allows for a final melancholic irony. What better cause for Blakes death than the copper fu mes arising from corrosive acids that created his illuminated books and reflected his iconoclastic persona? While Blakes body remains an object of medical speculation, the body also acts to reflect a Roma ntic melancholy. Blake never wakes up and merely sinks into his slowly dying body. While pr oviding a compromise between the depictions of pain and those of quiet death, Robinson a nd Viscomi nevertheless see themselves stripping away the mystical layers of Blakes death a nd showing us the physicality of Blakes body as it dies. The interest in the material properties of Bl akes illuminated texts is, thus, reflected in Robinson and Viscomis account by an interest in the physical properties of his body. This physical body is, likewise, seen as a site of reconciliation between Blakes disciplin ary identities. In Robinson and Viscomi, Blake is a poet tied to the iconoclasm of his in fernal printing method and a physical body tied to the medical conditio ns preceding his death. Describing the minute physical processes surrounding his death is analogous, here, to Walter Benn Michaelss argument on the posthistorical attach ment to the material text. This interest in a physical Blake

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44 representable by critical discourse is, I argue, symptomatic of an attachment to a body that is now seen as a space of disciplinary conflict and indi vidual belief. In this way, Francis Bacons pa inting of Blakes life mask shoul d be seen as emblematic of the pragmatist approach to Blake (Figure 2-1). Bacon created a series of paintings on the mask. The second version, however, is the most interesting for my purposes. The life mask presents the head as a curved surface, representing the precise contours of the f ace and suggesting a lost physical object. As Lene stermark-Johansen ha s shown, Blake hated the process of making the mask, as it pulled out several strands of his hair. It is nevertheless still s een as a popular relic of the dead poet, selling for the bargain price of a mere at the National Portrait Gallery (15762). Nevertheless, Bacon did not have much interest in Blakes visions, nor did he care all that much about the mask as a relic of a mystical poet. In an interview with Michael Archimbaud, Bacon says that he loathes the mystical side of him [Blake] and that the painting wasnt a homage to the work of Blake, because his work doe snt really mean anything to me at all (121). Bacon saw in Blakes features a physical body, a pur e physical surface. He created at least five different paintings of the life mask, each representing the mask from a different perspective, yet he also took pains to flatten the masks features. Strokes of Bac ons brush combine with the eyes and the nose (which are positioned lower on the painting than on the mask) to pull the eye downward, flattening the surface a nd transforming it into a smooth piece of flesh incapable of housing a person we might call Blake. This flatte ning of Blakes image caused Gilles Deleuze to remark that Bacons Blake is not a death mask, it is a block of firm flesh that has been separated from the bone (18). In a similar tone, Michael Pe ppiatt comments that the paintings of Blakes head float against the void like unearthly sculpt ures, impalpable yet expressive of a force as concentrated as a clenched fist (165). The re lic-like properties of Blakes life mask, so

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45 important to customers who buy it at the National Po rtrait Gallery, are erased entirely in Bacons treatment of the mask. All that remains, in this se nse, is the firm flesh stripped from the bone and a force that has little to do with either William Blakes life or his deat h. This force lies in a blunt, white physicality that contrasts forcefully with the dark void behind the mask. Blakes character is distilled from the mask, and all that remains is unearthly flesh, force, and a painted slab of physicality that ceases to be, represent or, signify Blake. The death mask allegorizes the physical and mate rial Blake as a ruined relic of a literary past that has lost its relevance. These relics maintain a physical, if empty, connection with the past. They become like Bacons rendering of Blakes flesh: a pure physical trace suggesting nothing but individual inflection. Bl akes death, for his first obituaries, signified the mysticism that made him into a figure for mythology and poe tic revelation. This mysticism is translated, by a culture more interested in the impact of Bl akes persona on more c ontemporary disciplinary issues, into an issue of access and availability. The physical properties of Blakes body and Blakes texts signify a fading material connection with a literary past th at must be balanced with the political concerns of identity politics. The discourse of balance celebrates Bl akes many deaths as proof of his continuing relevance as a poet of multiplicity and iconoclasm, one whose attention to political radicalism matchesmore or lessthe political positions of the contemporary English Department. Blakes death is proof, then, not of hi s exemplary status as a singular individual with links to the theoretical insights of more cont emporary thinkers, but of the ease with which identity politics appropriates the Blakean multitude for their concerns. These deaths are numbered by the disciplinary identities Blake is made to inhabit. For nineteenth-century writers, Blakes death marks his ascendancy into relevance by crafting a discourse of eccentricity. For more recent

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46 academic writers, death becomes another opport unity to prove disciplinary relevance by managing the past. Blakes death is seen as a di scourse of ruin and death made applicable to contemporary life by making the body available to anyone who can use it to occupy a sanctioned identity position. I now s uggest that this image of a managerial Blake can be applied to a reading of William Blakes death in Alan Moore and Eddie Campbells From Hell, where the poet is made into a symbol of a mystical past that must be disciplined before it gives in to its more enthusiastic and violent tendencies. Serial Blake Alan Moore, who decries the m anagerial culture of the modern office space in From Hell as lifeless, likewise figures mysticism and literature around death.8 Literary symbolism is linked to mysticism and characterized in the comic as an older and almost extinct mode of knowledge, differing from those practiced by th e medical establishment and the news media. Yet it is only in the past, and with the dead, that mysticism can stage a resistance to the spectacle of murder conjured by the serial killer. Blake is already d ead when William Gull, the alter ego of Jack the Ripper in Moore and Campbells comic, appears to him in a vision. The Whitechapel murders occur more than 60 years after the end of Blakes life. Furthermore, the few literary figures who do appear in From Hell are always accompanied by the fore shadowing of their deaths. While Moore and Campbell seem to valorize Blake and his ties to mysticism and literature, the literary is still seen as contributing a weak resistance to the media juggernaut born during the Ripper murders. 8 I refer to the 2000 collected edition of From Hell in this chapter. From Hell has a complicated publishing history due to its appearance in several now defunct publishing houses. The first publication of the story in a serial comic did not contain either the footnotes or the coda that are central to my argument. For a detailed account of From Hells publishing history, see Eddie Campbells Comics on the Main Street of Culture.

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47 William Blake, in From Hell, presents a world of mystical depth that is unavailable to media depictions of the dead body. As I argued in Panelling Parallax: Th e Fearful Symmetry of William Blake and Alan Moore, Moore appeal s to Blakes uncompromising spirit as a counterpoint to the contemporary ubiquity of mass media. Blake symbolizes a mystical connection to depth that has otherwise been drow ned out by spectacle. In the essay, I argued that Moore adapts Blakes concept of fearful symmetry in Watchmen (1987) to comment on the postmodern desire for a deep meaning underlying seemingly chaotic events. That deep meaning, I attempted to show, existed only on the most supe rficial of levels: the purely formal layout of comic panels arranged by Moore and Gibbons in a symmetrical pattern. Moore uses Blake to show the vacillation between the desire for deep meaning and the possibility that the only answer for such a desire is on a formal surface foreve r obscured to those characters inhabiting the comics diegetic space. Blakes status as a literary figure implicates him in Moores explor ations of depth and close reading. In this section, I argue that From Hell depicts Blake after death to mourn the death of literature as a genre of depth. From Hell characterizes Blake as part of a mystical tradition whose cultural importance is be ing slowly displaced by the ne wspaper scandal of the Ripper murders. The comic charts the transformation of th e dead into a symbol of the state and an image exploited by the mass media. My analysis demons trates the comics preoccupation with a literary tradition by focusing on its interest on a mystical past where meaning is seen as accessible through the use of symbols. Moore s tale depicts the loss of the li terary and the triumph of New Media and the annihilation of mystic meaning in favor of spectacle. Alan Moore is widely known for his interest in combining literatu re with the comic book genre, and giving the latter th e cultural importance of the former. As he commented in a 1988

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48 interview with Vincent Eno and El Csawza, Watchmen was an attempt to create a superhero Moby Dick; something that had that sort of weight, that sort of de nsity. Literature is seen, here, giving the flimsy comic book more st urdiness and more cultural weight. V for Vendetta (1982) appeals to literature as a politic ally radical alternative to the o ppression of a fascist government that rose to power in England after a small nuclear exchange. The literary provides not only a reminder of a democratic past, but enables the an archic characters in the novel to retain portions of their humanity. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2002) includes characters from nineteenth-century British adve nture novels including: Alan Quartermain, the Invisible Man, Captain Nemo, Mina Harker from Dracula, and Mr. Hyde. Literary settings and events are reinterpreted to show the politics of imperialist Britain. For example, the mysterious bacterial infection that stopped the Mart ians from invading in the c limax to H.G. Wellss novel The War of the Worlds (1898) is explained in the second volume of League as a biological weapon designed by Dr. Moreau (another Wells char acter) and deployed in South London. The government is shown caring little for the thousands of poor people eliminated with the biological agent, and the League dissolves in the controve rsy. Literature provides M oore with a palate for his serial stories, yet his comics also reveal an anxiety surrou nding their status as a literary form.9 The category of literature is particularly important to From Hell, a comic that uses literary allusion, quotation, and history to argue for the literary pos sibilities of the comic book. The footnotes, in particular, reveal Moores struggle with historical verisimilitude and realism. He admits as much in an interview with Dave Sim in which he calls the footnotes and their selfdeprecating tone a gruff apology for having don e such a fucking sloppy and unprofessional job. 9 See Josh Heuman and Richard Burts Suggested for Ma ture Readers?: Deconstructing Shakespearean Value in Comic Books for a discussion of a similar anxiety over the sophistication of comic books.

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49 [] And the fact that something hasnt been done in comics before is really no excuse for doing a sloppy job (310). The footnotes act as comm entary on Moores anxiety over accuracy and chart his struggle to construct a realist literary epic. These anxi eties over literary reputability are hardly Moores alone. Comics are seen as a margin alized form, a reality that is reflected in many academic accounts of comic books arguing for thei r status as acceptable objects for literary criticism.10 Charles Hatfields Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature appeals to the countercultural roots of independent and alternative comics as evidence of their literary appeal. Rocco Versacis This Book Contains Graphic Language: Comics as Literature has an entire chapter, subtitled Comics vs. Real Literatu re, focusing on the way comics transform the category of literature by causing readers to look beyond labels, while reinforcing the definition of literature as embodying art that brings new understanding and insight (189). The apologetic tone of Moore, Hatfield, and Versaci suggest thatfor comic booksliter ature is the standard by which comics aspire to gain acceptance, yet literature is also what must be surpassed in order for comics to be considered a worthy object of analysis. From Hells depiction of the dead articulates this literary co mplex by aligning literature with a mystic past figured as an unreachable id eal, which is nevertheless being devoured by the emerging technologies of mass media. The figure of the dead body in the comic serves to 10 See Donald Aults In the Trenches, Taking the Heat: Confessions of a Comi cs Professor, for a personal history of the difficulties incorporating comic studies into English curriculum. See especially, his conjunction of Carl Barks and William Blake in teach-ins at Bearkley in the late 60s: Voluntary teach-ins by faculty had become a staple of campus life, and there was a great demand for me to lead sessions on William Blake, who was predictably seen as a prophet of radical political activism, mystical vision, and psychedelic consciousness (rumor had it that Blakes body automatically produced LSD). It was in the context of this social turbul ence when normal academic ac tivities began to break down that I seized the opportunity and began to incorporate Donald Duck comics (which I considered to be every bit as radical as Blakes work s) into my teach-ins. (242)

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50 allegorize the place of literature and mysticism both as sources of mystery and objects of trash. From Hells beginning and ending scenes, which focus on the carcass of a dead bird, suggest a vacillation between mystical veneration and spect acle. In the prologue, the dead bird occupies the entire first panel. Its shape sprawls across the width of the page (Figure 2-1). Figure 2-1. The dead bird (Pro:1). From Hell Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell. Reprinted with permission. Artist Eddie Campbells harsh and rough realism reveals even the most minute of details: the bones edging ever so slightly from the bird s breast, the open mouth welcoming the many flies and organisms feeding off its corpse, and the limp leg and wings curling ever so slightly and withering in the sun. Its form encompasses the fo reground for most of the first page, acting as the audiences perspective, when two of the principa l investigators of the Ripper murdersInspector Abberline and Mr. Leesapproach from the background. The dead bird centers the audiences point of view in the first scene. From its place in the first several panels, close to the audience in

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51 the extreme foreground of the images, the dead bird is central in forming our first impressions of a world in which the events encompassing the Ripper murders take place. But it is also clear that the dead bird is completely accidental to the comics narrative. Abberline only half consciously picks at the birds carcass as he talks to Lees. He uses his cane to briefly pick at the dead body, then, to shove it aside as the two men continue on their walk. The carcass disappears entirely by the second page. Although we are made to identify completely with the bird on the first page, we see the wounds of its decomposition and can imagine being made uncomfortable by the stench and the stillness of the dead body. Campbell and Moore quickly move us from this image by treati ng the dead bird as trash to be thrown to the side and quickly forgotten. Once the panel penetrates the dead bird, and reveals that there is nothing to fascinate besides the revulsion tied to viewing dead bodies, the dead bird disappears completely. In this way, the dead bird sets up a tension that is carried throughout the comic and is tied to a fundamental shift in the attitude toward the dead. Th e dead are objects of mystical veneration in the eyes of characters like Willia m Gull. To the majority of the characters, however, the dead act merely as inert objects tied to murder a nd spectacle. The dead body, as a locus of spectacle, loses its ties to the deep meaning of the mystic and is, instead, opened completely to reveal its now superficial recesses. The dead bird shows up two other times in From Hell. The first is tied to William Gulls initiation ceremony in the second chapter. As Gull kneels to be sworn into the brotherhood, he states that, should he ever reve al the secrets of the Freemasons, his penalty would be that my throat be cut across, my tongue torn out by the ro ot, and that I be buried in sand a cables length from the shore where the tide regularly fl ows twice in twenty four hours (2:9).11 Moore and 11 Parenthetical citations to From Hell refer to chapter and page number respec tively. This reflects the first collected editions method of dividing the numbering among issues of the comic. If the reference is a footnote, I use the

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52 Campbell then cut to the beach scene in the be ginning, with the mangled bird carcass in the foreground and the aging Abberline and Lees fading into the background. The tide is about to come in, presumably to take away the dead bird into the sea. The epil ogue portrays the bird once more, this time in a scene occurring directly before the image Gull has in his vision. As Abberline looks away, Lees picks up the dead bird, quickly inspect s it, and then drops it onto the beach. The final shot shows the dead bird on the beach at dusk, its open mouth facing the ground, its decomposing wing jutting to the top of the panel, and its guts exposed to the night sky (Figure 2-2). Figure 2-2. Dead Again (Ep:10). From Hell Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell. Reprinted with permission. Why William Gull sees a scene occurring after the final panel thirty years before the events occurring in the epilogue is not clear. Does he have a unique power to see the future, or does the dead bird exist as Gulls double? This question is not answered by the text. Yet the way Moores comic links the dead body to both interpretive fr amesthat of a mystical or aesthetic object being closely inspected as meaningful and that of a piece of trash thrown to the side of the framesuggests that the survival of the mystical tradition is tied to the veneration of objects as aesthetic or literary, and not the treatment of the dead corpse as a spectacle. abbreviation App1 to refer to appendix 1. If the reference is either the prologue or the epilogue, I use the abbreviations Pro and Ep respectively.

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53 Alan Moore treats his massive meditation on the Ripper murders as an autopsy. He fantasizes on the back cover about cutting into and examining the still-warm corpse of history itself. And, on the epigraph page of the prologue he links autopsy to the [d]issection and examination of a dead body to determine the cause of death, [a]n eye witness observation, and [a]ny critical analysis. He notes, perhap s more provocatively, that autopsy comes from the Greek autos, self+opsis sight, suggesting autopsy to be the act of seeing with ones own eyes. Embodied in Moores autopsy medita tion is a larger discourse spanning vision, mutilation, and the use of the dead body in constructing knowledge of the past. Barish Ali suggests as much when he argues that the word autopsy connects the Ripper slayings to the larger and perhaps more culturally acceptable worl d where authors and critics alike do violence by dissecting history (613-14). M oores story suggests a haunted relationship between the writer and the murderer: by entering the discourse of history, both do damage to the body and consequently the lives of their subjects. Furthe r, by connecting the killer with the writer, Moore suggests that it is the autopsy and the analysis (or even more starkly writing itself) that constitutes death as an event. As writing constitutes death, the act of analysis in From Hell kills and dismembers the literary author. Literary figures in the text are po rtrayed as ruined; their bodies literally become ruins. Blakes appearances occur only at his grav eside or in hallucinatory visions about the past. The literary figure is made, in Moore and Campbells narrative, into a dead figure who is seen in mystical visions. W. B. Yeatss appearance is also tied to his death, although this death occurs several years after the events of the comic. In issue 9, William Gull chides Yeats and his Order of the Golden Dawn during a visit at the Br itish Library, where the poet was studying Blake.

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54 Gull tells Yeats that his bones shall never rest easy (9:15). In a footnote, Moore suggests that Gulls words are prophetic: Yeats died in France and was interred at an ossuary, where his bones are stored according to the type of bone in question rather than according to whom they originally belonged to, so that there will be a room of skulls, a room of femurs and so on. Imagine the embarrassment of the French au thorities, then, when Yeats s family requested that his remains be returned to Ireland, the land of his birth. A skeleton was hurredly assembled and shipped to Ireland for buria l with honors, but it was, in all likelihood, a frankensteinian effort composed from a dozen separate donors. (App1:31) The encounter with Gull foreshadows Yeatss li teral dismemberment. His body is torn apart, analyzed and catalogued for the purpose of study. This footnote underscores the status of the literary in Moore and Campbells comic. Literature is held t ogether by veneration: a knowledge that respects the unity and mystery of its object. Spectacle t ears the body apart; it studies distinct portions and discards the rest. The representation of William Blake in Moor es text underscores th e competition between veneration and spectacle. In From Hell, Blake is treated as a symbol of an older way of thinking, one that prizes vision above logi c and imagination above reason. Bl ake is first mentioned in the fourth chapter of From Hell, when William Gull, and his driver Netley, tour London architectural sites. Gull mentions that Blak e saw visions of Old Te stament prophets. Netley responds that such experiences sound [] barny (4:11). To which Gull responds: Possibly. And yet, as Alexander Gilchrist, Blakes biographer, suggests, Tis but comparatively recently that seeing visions w ould call into question a persons sanity. [] In Gilchrists words, Blake spiritually belonged to earlier ages of the world, since when, as Hazlitt has remarked, the heavens have done fu rther off. Our lunatics were prophets once, and had a prophet power. Never forget that, Netley. (4:11) Blake belongs to a past whose valu es and power have faded and acts, in this scene, as a figure of mourning and a symbol of what had once been possi ble. He represents a mystical golden age, where symbols and language were not necessary to elevate the individual to an ecstatic or mystical state. Gull places emphasi s on the directness of the mystical experience in ages past. He

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55 notes that Roman diaries contained frequent references to visionary experiences. Charges surrounding Blakes lunacy only act as evidence that he serves as a transitionary figure in Gulls history. Belonging to a world that has now passed into oblivion, Blake is treated as insane. Blakes status as a figure of mourning is re inforced on the next page, where Gull shows Netley Blakes grave in Bunhill Fields. Gull point s out the irony that Blake, a druid who was known for his hatred of the sun, is placed next to the grave of Daniel Defoe whose memorial includes an obelisk that is sty led upon stones consecrated to the Sun God Atum, raised at Heliopolis in ancient Egypt (4:12). He cackles at the fact that Defoes grave casts a shadow on Blakes at dusk, suggesting that the shadow of the sun will forever chain the poets insanity to the gravestone. Gulls suggestion here implicates Blake in a larger occult history surrounding the struggle between imagination and reason. In an earlier porti on of the chapter, Gull argues that the earliest symbols were used by men to understand the myst eries of birth, and c onsequently to rebel against matriarchal forms of rule. The origin of written language, for Gull, sought to use reason for enlightenment rather than dwell on the my steries of life. The creation of the symbol appropriates the remains of the dead to cont rol and discipline the li ving. Gull mentions the transformation of the Goddess Tiamat from a mere chimera into a demon, and the replacement of the Goddess Diana with the masc uline deity Herne. Symbols empo wered magicians to restrict the mysteries of women, signify their power with reason, and replace their deities with masculine Gods of the sun. The politics surrounding the dead William Blake works in much the same manner. The act of being eclipsed by Defoes grave both chains Blakes mysterious pow er to the earth and symbolizes him in order to be placed into a na rrative of the past. Moores footnotes exacerbate

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56 this process by explaining visionary experiences with history and biology. Citing Roman military logs, Moore recounts a story where a column of troops follow the god Pan across a river that was earlier seen by the group to be t oo deep to cross. Moore suggests that such a vision was the effect of a brain whose corpus callosum ( the strand of neural gristle that connects the twin lobes of the brain) was not as developed as it is today (App1:12). The visi on of Pan is explained away by Moore as an unconscious projection of a mind that was too primitive to work out the crossing of a river without plugging in ancient deities. As an explanatory device, Moores footnotes place Blake firmly into the past and suggest a physio logical source for the vi sionary experiences he recounts in his poetry: Since from all available evidence it would appear that such visions were more common in ancient times than they are today, it seemed fitting that I should connect this with Gilchrists comments that Blake saw visions because he spiritually belonged to [an] earlier age of the world, the implication bei ng that those we call pr ophets or visionaries simply have a different relationship with th eir subconscious mind to that enjoyed by the great majority. (App 1:12) It would seem odd that Alan Moor e, a self-described magician, would go to such lengths to place Blakes visions in a medical cont ext. Yet the work performed by From Hell to understand Blakes mysticism is hardly different from the transformation of the memory of literary figures into symbols that can be appropriated into a larger historical narrative of domination. Much like the dead bird at the beginning, Blakes memory is appropriated by the comic as a site of extraction: his poems are used as archival evid ence of a different way of looking at the world. Blakes memory is also tied to the replacement of mystical sympathy with historical realism. Since Moore places Blakes mysticism in the pa st, Moore can distance himself from a deep connection with Blakes insanity while at the same time claiming to adopt a realist understanding of the world.

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57 Moore is involved in a series of intellectual dances that at one poi nt move closer to a communion with the dead, and at another point m ove away from the dead. In the issue where Gull kills and mutilates Marie Kelly, Moore spends 34 pages investigating every detail. We are shown Gulls mutilation of the vict ims face, his deep cuts made to her abdomen, the extraction of bodily organs, and the scalding of her heart in the fireside kettle. Gull takes the burnt heart, crushes it in his handkerchief, and scatters the ashes to the wind s. On two facing pages, Gulls murderous reverie is focalized on the smallest details of the victims body. Campbells sketchy style is replaced with clear lines and dark contrasts suggesting photorealistic microscopic shots of the body. His illustrations zoom in on Gulls knife as it cuts into the victims corpse, focusing first on the knife, then on the bit of flesh being cut by the knife, then on the blood vessels on the side of the flesh, and then into the stru ctures of these blood vessels (Figure 2-3). Figure 2-3. Cutting into the Sublime. (10:11). From Hell Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell. Reprinted with permission. Finally, Campbell shows us the inside of one of the blood vessels as a huge underground cavern, blood settled at the bottom (Figure 2-4). Th e close-ups of the organs in these panels are so extreme that they seem to become geological spaces. The intensity of seeing the body reveal its secrets leads only to further se crets, suggesting that the serial killer cuts into what could be called the arterial sublime. The body, in the hands of the visionary killer, becomes pure

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58 physicality. Campbells close ups then proceed to the blood itself, then cuts to a close up of Gulls eye and back to Gull standing in front of his mutilated corpse. Figure 2-4. The Body as Cavern (10:12). From Hell Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell. Reprinted with permission. Lisa Coppin has suggested that these scenes pull Gull optically into the uncanny nature of vision by overloading the eye with an excess of inform ation. The intensity of Gulls dissections, in other words, leads both the reader and the ki ller into the same unca nny experience where seeing visions of the future and the past is possible. While Moore seems interested in using the body as a nexus of sublimity and the uncanny, he also back s away from the very visions he depicts. In a footnote to the final murder scene, M oore cites Stan Brakhages short movie The Act of Seeing with Ones Own Eyes a particularly graphic film detaili ng three autopsies. Moore notes that seeing Brakhages film produces an initial revulsion that soon gave way to a kind of fascinated awe at the magnificence and intricacy of our i nner workings (App1:35). Moores viewing of the film translates the body into a site for revelation, a space where revulsion opens up to the

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59 visionary state of awe. Yet when discussing his theory that Gull was motivated by a similar awe of the body when dissecting his victims, Moore pulls away from identifying too closely with the murderer. He suggests, quite ri ghtly, that no one can really k now what happened in the room during the murder of Marie Kelly but that: it seems to me that, at least on the level of th e killers emotional re ality, some kind of an Apocalypse transpired. Human experi ence went to the very edge, there in that sordid little flat, then stepped beyond. The depiction here is as close as I can get to the portrayal of what might have happened on that night. In th at room. In that mind. To be absolutely honest, its as close as I want to get. (App1:35) Depth and intimacy figure here as limit points for what Moore calls human experience. On the one hand, depth can transform the shape of huma n experience by overloading the senses. On the other hand, too much depth can lead to apocal ypse, annihilation, insanity, and perhaps even death itself. It is Gulls pursuit of depth that l eads him to murder and dissect his victims. Autopsy and analysis lead to sublimity, for Moore a nd Campbell, but might also lead to murder. Moore distances himself from death and the mo re terrifying aspects of mystical depth by medicalizing Blakes visionary experiences and by separating himself off from the apocalypse occurring in Marie Kellys bedroom. Moore wants neither the mystical insanity of William Gull nor the soulless rationalism of the twentieth century. During his mutilation of the final victim, Gull is transported to the contemporary office building. He sees disint erested workers plodding away at their computers. He calls the sight dazzle, but not yet divi nity, suggesting that modernity is an apocalypse of cockatoos [] Mo rose, barbaric children playing joylessly with their unfathomable toys (10:21). He then turns and embraces the mutilated body of his final victim. Gull suggests that he sa ved the body from annihi lation: I have made you safe from time and we are wed in legend, inextricable within et ernity (10:21). In this moment, it becomes clear that Moore at least half-identifies with both Bl ake and Gull, without identifying too closely with either of them. The office buildi ng, with its emphasis on the mana gement of the workday and the

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60 alienation of lifeless employees, is seen as the alternative to Gull and Blakes connection with tradition and meaning. Moores difficulty in completely identifying with either Blake or Gull stems from a common problem plaguing the profili ng of serial killers and their cr imes. Id like to take a short detour through the relationship between Blake and the serial killer before showing how this relationship impacts From Hell. As Mark Seltzer argues, the em ergence of the serial killer parallels the domination of modern forms of identification and the rise of the mass media in the late nineteenth century. The seri al killer is the product of the pathologization of murder, the historical shift from consider ing killing an act to attempti ng to understand the essential characteristics that make up the killer. Seltzer se es the serial killer as a subject flooded by the social and its collective fantasies, as copycats ev acuated of interiority and made to become that which they perceive (128). Popul ar representations of serial killing characterize profilers, on the other hand, as those who empathize with killer s and are consequently in danger of becoming killers themselves. Brett Ratners movie vers ion of Thomas Harriss Red Dragon (2002), for example, features Edward Norton playing Will Graham, an FBI agent working to arrest Francis Dolorhyde. Dolorhyde is a serial killer w ho has tattooed a portion of William Blakes The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun on his back and believes that he is slowly becoming the dragon. Graham, meanwhile, is portra yed using intuition to track his killer. He visits the local University library where he vi ews a copy of Blakes illuminated poetry to study up. The literary mystic who closely identifies with the characters in Blakes poetry is set against the literary forensic who must track the killer using Blakes artifacts. Graham also visits Hannibal Lecter: a fellow serial killer who enjo ys psychologically tormenting profilers who

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61 come to him asking for advice. The scenes with Graham and Lect er revolve around their similarities. Lecter is a killer, but he is also a former physician and an intellectual on par with Graham. The profiler and the psyc hotic are doubles, separated only by the latters penchant for killing. The danger that th e profiler could become th e serial killer is always acute, with Graham consistently attempting to place boundaries betwee n himself and Lecter. In the novel version of Harriss Hannibal (2000), that distinction is severed completely as Clarice Starling (Grahams replacement) is shown being seduced, brainwas hed, and made into a cannibal by Lecter. The novel ends with Starling leavi ng the FBI and following Lecter around the world. Harriss novels and films portray the serial ki ller as a figure who threatens to possess the innocent public with murderous desires. Could it be that, for Moore, merely displaying the inner apocalypses of William Gull and the prophetic visions of Willia m Blake could cause the comic book author to become a mystic and a killer? A chain of referents contests the distinction be tween serial killing and Blake, threatening to collapse one in on the other. Academics and comic artists alike attempt to reinscribe and manage those distinctions, feelin g a similar threat: to align Blake with the serial killer would truly unveil literary mysticism as a discourse leading potentia lly to murder. Jason Whittaker, for instance, suggests that Gull seeks Blake as a druidic master, and that his murders are a horrible misinterpretation of Blakes true visionary power (202-3). Seltz er, himself, points out several instances of Blakes appearance in serial kille r narratives, among them the Harris novels and Jim Jarmuschs Dead Man (1995), but does not note their c onsequence to our understanding of mystical revelation and its ties to literature and the mass media. He recoun ts an episode in which Robert Ressler, the FBI agent w ho coined the term serial killer and who is the archetype for Harriss profiler in The Silence of the Lambs writes a non-fiction book on the development of

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62 the FBIs Behavior Science Unit (BSU). The frontispiece of Resslers book reproduces Blakes Red Dragon print. William Blakes place in this anecdote is telling. The Romantic poet, filled with visions of another world, se rves not only as a template for the serial killer, but also the poets artwork is made emblematic for serial killing in general. Dead Man, likewise, uses Blake as a template for serial killing. In the film, a Cleveland banker named William Blake becomes a serial k iller after meeting a Native American who believes he is the reincarnation of the Britis h poet and prophesizes that his new poetry will consist in the killing of Europeans. William Blak e, in Jarmuschs film, is played by Johnny Depp who acts in a number of roles as the typical Ro mantic author flirting with annihilation. In Don Juan DeMarco (1995), Depp plays the titular char acter of Byrons narrative poem. The Libertine (2004), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), and Sweeney Todd (2007) all feature Depp as either an iconoclastic writer verg ing on insanity and drug addiction or as a serial killer. And, in the film version of Moore and Campbells From Hell (2001), Depp stars as Inspector Abberline. Depps From Hell, however, transforms Abberline from the fat, working class, and mostly inept character in Moores comic into a slim, sexy, psychic detective who achieves visions with the help of laudanum. Depps character matches th e grim world of Gulls insanity with his own opium-induced explorations of the borders of co nsciousness. Abberline dies soon after the last murder from a drug overdose, an event that refl ects neither the Moore and Campbells comic nor the historical reality of Abberlines life. While references to William Blake are removed entirely from the film version of From Hell and replaced with half-hearted allusions to Shakespeare, Depps performance retains a trac e of the interconnections between the Romantic poet, Blake, and the serial killer that suggests all are copycats of one another.12 12 Tom Cohen makes a distinction between the detective and the serial killer when he analyzes the film From Hell s citation of Hitchcockss The Lodger (1927). In the epilogue to the first volume of Hitchcocks Cryptonomies Cohen

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63 Perhaps this is what lies behind Moores re luctance to fully embrace either the mystic Blake or the serial killer. Th e discourse of symbolism and im agination has been so thoroughly pathologized in the discourse surrounding the serial killer that it threatens to turn the good mystic poet, William Blake, into the bad ritualistic killer William Gull. The threat of possession by the serial killer characterizes the final confrontatio n between Blake and Gull and also forces Moore and Campbell to distinguish between Blake and Gull. They do so by putting Blake in the role of a police detective, who can stop Gull from inf ecting the twentieth century with his madness. From Hells fourteenth chapter, titled Gull asce nding, chronicles the serial killers dissemination into the fabric of the twentie th century. Moores overarching thesis in From Hell theorizes the Ripper murders as givi ng birth to the twentieth century: in terms of its fascination with murder and genocide, the rise of the seri al killer as celebrity, a nd the spread of media technologies to document every facet of the public fascination with murder. In one scene, Gull is shown possessing a rain of blood that plagued Me diterranean fishing boats in the summer of 1888, the same summer as the murders. While falli ng on the astonished fishers, Gull muses on a poem read to him by his father when he was young. After laboring for years, God showed a dying scientist his final reward: [ t]he universe and all of space and time were his laboratory, wherein to be about his work, his measuremen ts and tests (14:7). Gull, who is made omnipresent by his murders that are seen as a sacrifice to the Freemason God, is given all of space and time and becomes an invisible cu rve, rising through the centuries (14:9). Gull materializes only to certain people in the final chapter. Netley, for instance, sees Gulls face in 1903 before dying at the Clarence Gate of Regents Park. Robert Louis Stevenson identifies the doubling occurring between the mutilation of the Ripper victims and their dehumanization by cinema and photography in the 20th century. He suggests that there are two sides to ci nema: one that serves the state by creating technologies of identification and one which shifts to alternative modes of sensing and being. The visionary aspects of cinema are distinguished from those that identify, catalogue and chart the body. Yet, Cohen also finds Depps Abberline the nexus of these two cinemas: as a detective who is addicted to his cinematic visions.

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64 sees Gull in a nightmare that inspired the writing of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886). Ian Brady, the Scottish serial killer responsible for the Moors Murders of the 60s, is shown seeing Gulls head as a child. While Gull is invisible to mo st of the public, he is visible to those who can perceive the invisible: the artis t and the killer. Gull appe ars to Blake twice in the chapter. The first time, Blake is shown in his Lambeth home while Moore and Campbell depict Gulls hands growing scal ylike a lizard or a dragon. Gull is astonished by the fact that Blake can see him. But, after Blake notices Gull s hands, he exclaims, Am I now but a thing of mind, and coloured by the minds that view me? (14:10). His interiority vanishes completely. Gull embodies the perceptions of others and is ma de wholly concept (1 4:10). The serial killer abandons all interiority and is gi ven over to a ghostly exteriority. The second time Blake sees Gull occurs soon after, during a visit by John Varley. Blake recounts his earlier experiences notices Gull, and decides to draw his form. The sketch, according to Moore, becomes Blakes famous Ghost of a Flea Eddie Campbell reproduces Blakes painting in minut e detail (Figure 2-5). Figure 2-5. Eddie Campbells Ghost of a Flea (14:17). From Hell Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell. Reprinted with permission. Both Blake and gull use a discour se of capture when discussing Blakes visionary representation of the serial killer as a flea. Blake says Almost. I think I almost have him (14:16). And Gull replies in his ghostly monologue, [i]t is a marv el. Beyond death he has caught me to the life.

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65 Caught me red-handed in the fourfold city. I am movement in the paint-plump brush, an agitation in the squeaking pen (14:17). By placing th e discourse surrounding re presentation and vision into the larger langu age that focuses on capturing, having, and catching, Moore and Campbell figure Blake as Gulls afterlife pr ofiler. They reinscribe the di fference between the good mystic (Blake) and the bad mystic (Gul l). The good mystic provides M oore and Campbell an access to meaning, visions, and art. The bad mystic in fects the world with murderous thoughts and searches for the sublime in the de ath of victims. Blakes work, as the product of the good mystic, becomes the disciplinary tool to catch and reveal the monstrosity of the serial killer. Just as Eddie Campbell has captured Bl akes painting reproducing it almo st exactly (albeit in black and white), Blake has used his visionary capabilities to incarcerate Gull in his visionary work. Blake, mocked by Gull as Englands greatest holy Fool, is made to displace the anxiety over the murderous possibilities of Gulls mysticis m by capturing and identifying the bad mystic. Blakes literary persona ends up managing th e boundary between the good mystical poet and the bad mystical killer. Blake is made to control the mu rderous subject by identifying Gull and sketching a visionary picture of the killers face. The mystical lite rary tradition embodied by Blake in Moore and Campbells comic is valorize d above both the soulless tradition of spectacle and the dark personality of the se rial killer. Literature shifts w ith Blake in Moores comic from being a discourse associated with a mystical meaning to one almo st in league with the serial killer to a power capable of containing and managing Gulls mo re radical, magical purposes. Despite Moores anger toward media spectacle a nd the management of the office building, he ends up using William Blake to capture Gulls ghos t and keep the enthusiasm of the bad mystic from infecting the twentieth century. In the hand s of Alan Moore, the mystic is made into the

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66 manager, and Blake polices the boundaries between the mysticism associated with artistic invention and the mysticism associated with serial killing. Spectacular Death I have argued that Blakes death has fixed the poet in a discourse of m anagement: between the conflicting discip lines of the English Department and be tween the poetry of the good mystic and the serial killing of the bad mystic. For Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, Blake polices a boundary between the close readi ng of mystical symbols and media spectacle. Academic scholars, however, have also us ed William Blakes work to create a pathway for the acceptance of New Media in English Departments and have suggested that close r eading is enabled by the electronic dissemination of texts. In what follows, I would like to see how New Media critics attend to the material characteristics of Blak es texts and what it means for the disciplinary subjectivity of William Blake. The online William Blake Archive creates a media driven space for the close reading of Blakes illuminated manus cripts. N. Katherine Hayles notes that the attention to each copy and its material particularities simula tes the experience of going to numerous libraries across the globe and viewi ng the originals (264). William Blake, with the help of the Archive, can be made more popular than ever before, and critics are now able to read his texts with unprecedented levels of access and accuracy. But what does close reading mean in this cont ext? And, perhaps more importantly, what is the object of close reading? Ha yles suggests that the Archives very existence dramatically transforms the notion of what constitutes the material text into a medium specific enterprise. What determines a close reading now changes ba sed on the medium we use to view the literary object. Yet other scholars arent so sure. J. Hillis-Miller ends his essay on Digital Blake with ambivalence. He suggests that Blakes belief in the power of poetry cannot be detached from the material texts that embody his pr ophecies; yet he also argues that the digitalization of Blakes

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67 work embodies what heafter Werner Hamach er and Walter Benjamincall pure mediacy. Blakes mediacy, for Miller, extends the power of his work beyond its manifestation in the medium of the illuminated manuscript and ev en beyond the performative ego of the poet. The question of the literary archiv e, according to Miller, is a que stion of death. And it is in this sense of the death of Blake that we should consider the preservation of his work. It would not be hard to extend Millers Digital Blake and imagine the digitalization of the Blakean body in some strange science fiction future: every in ch of his fact catalogued: his brain weighed, his relative blood pressure recorded, and his weight and height documented. Blake could, perhaps, be manifested in flesh simulated to match his skin tone, with eyes that held his visions, and a mouth that would utter them. Even recreating Blake in this way would be, in Hayless terms, a translation and an interruption. What would we be digitalizing or arch iving but pure mediacy? What ruined rough beast would materialize in front of us? Millers and Hayless emphasis on mediacy could perhaps be better stated, or translated, as management. As the identity of William Blake beco mes disciplinary, his materiality refers to that blank space upon which academics can project their ideological fantasies and anxieties. These fantasies in Blake criticism are often interdiscip linary in nature, focusing on Blakes relevance to the schools of thought that approp riate them for their ends. If digitalizing Blake could reproduce him in front of us as a physical being, would it be long before multiple Blakes are born: one for a march on Washington in favor of gay marriage, another to conduc t psychological assessments in a clinical practice, and yet another to unionize gr aduate students? Literature and mass media, in this example, combine to create a circuit of mourning and exhilaration that manage academic thought and action. The machine can create a W illiam Blake for everyone, but the content of these Blakes are still mediated by the memory of a single figure named William Blake and the

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68 subjectivities articulated to th e academic by the disciplinary ma rket. Everyone has their Blakean institutional profile, composed of the ruins the academic continues to mourn.

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69 CHAPTER 3 BYRONS CORPSE: ACADEMIC NECR OPHI LIA AND J. M. COETZEES DISGRACE Cultural critics hold the figure of Byron in an ambivalent mixture of admiration and condemnation. He is seen by some as a radical iconoclastic activist whose poetry critiques nationalism, and whose personality forms a dramatic contrast to the faci le morality of bourgeois England.13 Others find his Oriental Tales central in the nineteenth-century expansion of the British Empire, his political stances ineffectual, and his private life a testament to misogyny.14 Byrons identity as political ra dical, sexual deviant, and cosmopo litan idealist reflects many of the contradictions that define th e political and social ideals held by critics wishing to use literary studies to critique cultu re and affect political change. By rons ambivalent place in cultural studies is, therefore, symptomatic of the contradictory role of E nglish Departments released from their institutional role as purveyors of culture. As critics of ideology and culture, academics share Byrons dedication to democratic and cosmopo litan ideals. As teachers holding onto survey courses corresponding, more or less, to the esta blished canon, Romantic scholars search for a reason to continue to teach Byrons poetry. As a critic of the postcolonial academy, J. M. Coetzees depiction of the academic embodies a similar contradiction. Coetzees acad emic is an adolescent relic of European imperialism. His portrayals of academia simultaneously critique the narcissis tic political aims of cultural critics and the aesthetic fa ntasies of older professors. In Elizabeth Costello (2004) an 13 See, for example, Jonathan David Grosss argument that Byrons cosmopolitanism is a type of internationalism that expressed liberalism by actively persui ng both erotic and political freedom (4;8). 14 See Saree Makdisis Romantic Imperialism which characterizes Byrons Childe Harold as an imaginary map of [] contemporary Oriental space (126). See also Malcom Miles Kelsalls Byrons Politics where he argues that Byron achieved nothing for reform, and was the determined opponent of the very radi cal forces who selectively misread his poetry to support their cause. The life of Byron is of no political significance (2). For an account of Byrons early misogyny, see McGanns My brain is femi nine: Byron and the Poetry of Deception, which charts his early poetry enacting a misogynistic inversion of poetic sentimentalism by portraying women constantly breaking the contract of love in Childe Harold

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70 aging novelist who, is bombarded with the political ambitions of literary critics discussing her work, refuses to give an account of what her art does. The final ch apter takes place in a purgatory afterlife. This afterlife is ta ken and parodied from Kafkas Before the Law, where Costellos assertion that writers have no beliefs keeps he r from passing the gates into the beyond. Coetzees literary writer wastes away in the middle space be tween two worlds; her refusal to subscribe to a particular ideology holds her in a nihilistic border-town mocking her ideals. The academic in Coetzees novels fares no better. Age of Iron (1998) contrasts the insu rrections occurring in the late 1980s against apartheid with an aging classics professor dying of cancer. Political progress happens in the corpse of the dying academic pa st, and Coetzee suggests that the only way to move into the future is to abandon the smoldering ruins of literature. The academic is unable to do this and is depicted holding on compulsively to literary fetters and figures from the past. Coetzees academic addresses an institutiona l symptom of the English Department whose pathology directly reflects the Ro mantic obsession with literary celebrity. The figure of Byron is perhaps the best example of this obsession; hi s afterlife, embodied in the literary tradition secured by its institutionalization in the English Department, promises intimacy with cultural authenticity after death. For the scholar, literary intimacy takes th e form of what I call academic necrophilia: a tendency on the part of liter ary academics to approach the corporate institutionalization of literary studies by claiming intimacy with dead literary celebrities. To explore academic necrophilia, I first turn to accounts of viewing Byrons corpse to illustrate the tension between claiming intimacy with the literary celebrity and the separation of the community from the corpse. A series of accounts of Byrons corpse show the complex play of intimacy and alienation toward the material actuality of the celebrity corpse. I then turn to J. M. Coetzees novel Disgrace (1999) and the main characters ob session with Byron to investigate

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71 the incorporation of the literary celebrity in the body of the academic-fan. Coetzees character patterns his life after Byron and, in a rite of aesthetic resurrection, attempts to recreate him in fiction and in his classes. The claim to intimacy made by literary schol ars (whether achieved through a performative recreation of the celebritys m eaning in the environment of the literature classroom, or the reconstruction of her life by writ ing historical criticism aimed at mimetically recreating the historical environment of the author) depends upon establishing a closeness to death and the corpse. I combine attention to the historical construction of the celeb rity corpse during the Romantic period with an awar eness of how academics, living off of the celebrity corpse, transform the meaning of celebrity to buttress their academic identity. Intimate Relations with Byrons Corpse Byrons death enacted a crisis in Eu ropean Romantic celebrity culture. As a celebrity, Byron captured the whole of Europe by performi ng the figure of the cosmopolitan aristocrat engaged in international adventures. In this sens e, Byron signified much more than a writer of books. His life transformed the category of Ro mantic authorship into a figure whose work signified an essential personality. When Byron di ed, his fans attempted to use his body and his literary remains to reconstruct that essential personality to make Byron appearlively and authenticin their imagination. I argue that the de sire on the part of fans to reconstruct Byrons life through his remains, both lite ral and literary, reflected their necrophilic attachment to the intimacy his celebrity promised. Byrons corpus, in other words, reconstructed the corpse as a site of libidinal attachment. As Tom Mole has argued, Byr ons Romantic Celebrity played off of the intimacy many fans felt when reading his poetry. Much of Byron s poetry was designed to provide the sense that his readers were entering the private thoughts of a unique mind, capable of traveling beyond the

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72 British Isles and transgressing the economic and so cial limitations of his middle and upper class readers. The inspiration of a sense of intimacy led to a series of reading practices meant to supplement the physical absence of the poet, including buying and looking at portraits of Byron, or i llustrations in which the Byronic hero was represented as the poet, soliciting introductions to Byron, writing to him, dressing in Byronic fashion, reading newspapers, cartoons or reviews, and falling in love, either with the noble lord or violently, passionately and hope lessly, as his characte rs were wont to do. (Mole 25) Both acquiring various artifacts of Byrons pe rsonality and imitating that personality gave readers the impression that they had a personal s ecretkept from everyone elsethat was key to the inner life of the celebrity. Andrew Elfenbein demonstrates this effect when he argues that Byrons poems were marketed as more than poems [offering] an invi sible commodity lying beneath more tangible ones, focused around the pe rsonality of Byron hims elf (49). The desire, on the part of readers, to keep reading Byron was directly related to their belief that continuing to read would give a better understand ing of the poets soul and would allow them to act as if they knew Byron in life. The market personality Byron developed during his life also helped preserve his celebrity after death. Byrons posthumous reception, in pa rticular, attempted to use the promise of intimacy to overcome the alienation of the ninete enth century community from the corpse. As Thomas Lacquer argues, the newf ound attention to public health in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was due, in part, to a transformation in the attitude toward the dead. During the Middle Ages cemeteries were generally kept alongside chur ches, and the dead were seen as part of the living religious community. The smell of dead b odies acted as a sign of the perfection of the afterlife and the corruption of earth ly existence. As the amount of dead individuals threatened to overwhelm these small cemeteries, Lacquer recount s, health officials began to complain about the danger of rotting bodies to the public health and suggested moving cemeteries away from

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73 churches. The body, according to Lacquer, no l onger pointed to the next life or something transcendental but to a shortene d life here on earth (24). The corpse, and its smell, was divorced from a community that no longer wanted to be reminded of the short length of its life. Cemeteries were made into an entirely separate sphere, and this separation haunted Romantic writers who now saw the immediate need to construct an afterlife in literature.15 The separation of the corpse from the community acted as an incentive for writers to cr eate a celebrity persona that could outlast the life of the author. The litera ry afterlife, in other words, relieved anxieties surrounding the separation of the dead from the community imaginary. Necrophilia emerges, in the same way, as a resp onse to the death of the literary celebrity and the construction of a literary afterlife. The Oxford English Dictionary lists the first English use of the word in 1892 with the work of ps ychologist R. von Krafft-E bing. Krafft-Ebbing notes, in Psychopathia Sexualis that the sexual desire for the dead co rpse satisfies an abnormal desire, in that the object of desire is seen to be capab le of absolute subjugation, without the possibility of resistance (100). The necrophiliac ta kes pleasure in the fact that the desired sexual object cannot consent to the act. Krafft-Ebbing su ggests that this attraction to passivity is part of a larger sadistic tendency delighting in the domination of othe r people. Less literal forms of necrophilia also engage an intimacy that does not depend upon consent. Necrophilia, as Dany Nobus suggests, is part of a reaction to the death of lovers and sovere igns. He further notes that and public interest in the conditi on peaked due to the popularity of gothic novels portraying 15 Lacquer quotes William Hazlitt to illustrate th e newfound fear of dying. For Hazlitt, People walk along the streets the day of our deaths just as they did before, and the crowd is not diminished. While we were living, the world seemed in manner to ex ist only for us. [] But ou r hearts cease to beat, and it goes on as usual, and thinks no more of us than it did in our lifetime (qtd. in168).

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74 vampirism, grave robbing, and ghosts.16 The attachment to the corp se was a sign of pathological mourning, which used the remains of the dead as a physical connection to an intimacy that was now lost. For readers reacting to the death of their favorite author the contest to determine who was the better fan continued on after death. As write rs crafted a personality that could survive the death of their body to secure their memory w ithin the community, readers became necrophiliacs in order to dominate that memory and perpetuate their intimacy with a life that was now absent. I argue that necrophilia is an inseparable element of the reac tion to Byrons death and the rise of literary celebrity in Britain in gene ral. Reacting to the loss of one who signified authenticity and allowed the lower classes to participate imaginat ively in an aristocratic life, readers of Byrons poetry found a need to reinforce all the literary qualities contributing to their intimacy with the poet. The desire for intimacy tu rned onto the corpse who, in the absence of Byrons living voice, became the repository for Byrons celebrity personality. Byrons body became the material battleground for the mourners who attempted to prove their proximity and intimacy to the literary celebrity by visiting hi s corpse and using thei r accounts of his physical remains to unveil the truth of his personality. The process whereby Byrons relics came to st and for his authentic personality combines the fetishization of his body with the remnants surviving after his death. These relics became substitutes for the physicality of his body, and acted to keep his mourners in contact with the authenticity his personality signi fied. Ghislain McDayter has argue d that, for his mourners in the nineteenth century and his contemporary critic s, Byrons body becomes the screen upon which we project our own fantasies, anxieties and desi res, and is the phantasmatic embodiment of our own desire (133). Byrons body signifies a potency and an authenticity that reflects the desire of 16 See Nobuss article Over my Dead Bo dy: On the Histories and Cultures of N ecrophilia for the early research on necrophilia.

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75 his audiences. McDayter suggests that accounts of Byrons corpse treat it like a fetish, where Byrons image as a figure of potency is a stand-in for the lack of potency in his audiences. I suggest that this logic of substi tution is also linked to the prob lems of authenticity and intimacy. Byrons corpse is a substitution for a substitution, or a fetish for his fetishized potency. If his audience cannot have intimacy with a living poet, the desire for intimacy is then transferred to his poetry, his portraits, and any of the texts that are substitutes for his physical presence. Since this physical presence is already a screen for the desires of his audience, the remnant emerges as a trace of a desire that can never be fully em bodied or realized. The contest for intimacy turns into a compulsive and pathological search for remnants of Byrons body that reflect the decaying remains of the audiences intimacy. This search reveals the desire for Byron, and the desire for the Romantic celebrity in general, to be fundamentally necrophilic. The search for remains of the dead celebrity, fr om relics that touched the hand of Byron to publishing lost words from his diar y, characterized this contest of necrophilic intimacy. Byrons funeral made the personal intimacy that each i ndividual reader felt a public event comprised of mourners who all believed they knew the dead poet best. Alfred Tennyson claimed that on the day of Byrons death the whole world seemed to be darkened for him and carved Byron is dead on a rock (qtd. in H. Tennyson I; 4). Thomas Carlyle felt as if he ha d lost a Brother(III; 68). Everyone wanted to claim intimacy with the corpse. Many, in fact, want ed to see the corpse for themselves and offered to pay money for a brief glimpse of Byrons body. John Hobhouses diary recounts a young man who prayed hard to see the body, and after viewing it, the young man took up a bit of the cotton in which it [Byrons body] has been wrapped and carefully put it in his pocket (July 5, 1824).17 The attention paid by the young man to recovering part of 17 Since Hobhouses diaries are online, I have decided to cite individual entries with the date they were written. I cite the URL in the References section.

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76 the burial shroud as a relic underlines the desire to reconstruct some semblance of the intense presence Byron conjured in his poetry. In all of these accounts, the d eath of a poetic figure whose personality was desired by re aders across Britain caused these readers to assert ever more forcefully their claims to intimacy. Death brought Byron even closer to his readers than he had been in life. Claims to intimacy with the dead Byron t ook on bizarre contours when people reported looking at the corpse and repeatedly focused on the state of decomposition. John Hobhouse, after refusing to view the body and claiming that he would have dropped down dead if he actually saw it, found himself drawn by an irresistible in clination to see his dead friend (July 6, 1824). After his first refusal, Hobhouse eventually decided to open Byrons coffin and view the corpse. He notes, chillingly, that the corpse did not bear the slightest rese mblance to my dear friend. The mouth was distorted and half open, showing those teeth, in which, poor fello w, he once so prided himself, quite discoloured by the spirits. His upper lip was shaded with red mustachios which gave a totally new colour to his face, his cheeks we re long and bagged over the jaw, his nose was quite prominent at the ridge, and sunk in betw een the eyes, perhaps from the extraction of the brain. His eyebrows shaggy and lowering. His forehead, marked with leech-marks probably, his eyelids closed and sunken I presume the eyeballs having been removed when he was embalmed. His skin was like dull yellow parchment. So complete was the change that I was not affected as I thought I s hould be. It did not seem to be Byron. I was not moved so much scarcely as at the sight of his handwriting, or a nything that I know to be his. (July 6, 1824) The transformations made to Byrons body as a result of the embalming process become, for Hobhouse, a corporeal commentary not only on his mourning, but also on the very lack of intimacy that he now intensely feels toward wh atever is left of By ron. Hobhouse had traveled throughout Europe with Byron, was present at his wedding, and was the last person to see Byron after he left the British Isles in 1816. Now, he reinforces that intimacy by relating the bodily state of the decomposing corpse in extreme detail. He notes the ragged state of Byrons teeth; the mustasche that Byron had grown in Greece, now quite unkept and probably even more

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77 prominent from the gradual ebb of the dead sk in from the hair follicles; the leech marks punctuating his face with blood; and the shrunke n state of Byrons once full face. Byrons body had become zombie-like, a shriveled mockery of the beautiful face who adorned portraits in galleries across Britain. In fact, the horror Hobhouse expected to feel when he looked at his dead friend was completely absent. Byron did not rese mble himself. He had become something else completely. This lack of being moved on Hobhouses part is a reaction to the desire of Byrons fans to preserve remnants from the poets life. As Be nita Eisler notes in her biography of Byron, [r]elics of the living man acquire d sacred properties. From the moment when locks of hair were snipped from the corpse, the organs packed separately, and his belongings docketed for appropriate distribution, any connection with Byron through his possessions acquired an unprecedented mystique (753). Hobhouse rejects th e mystical quality of the body in order to gain control of Byrons reputation from the popular imagination. Hobhouse saw himself entrusted with Byrons good name and memo ry, a mission he sometimes took to radical extremes. Mere minutes after hearing about Byrons death, Hobhouse decided to burn a good portion of Byrons memoirs, especially those sections he deemed indecent (May 14-15, 1824). These actions were much to the chagrin of Thomas Moore, who had been contracted by John Murray to write the first official biography of Byron. Hobhouses account of seeing Byrons corpse is designed to establish his ultimate intimac y with the poet, to argue that he is entrusted with the meaning of Byrons memory, and to keep others from contesting his role as guardian. Hobhouses account begins the contest for control of the meaning of Byron, or quite literally the material afterlife of what Byron will come to mean for a Britain still coming to terms with his death. The contest over Byrons meani ng centered on what the body signified. Without

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78 Byron to sell his market personality to an a udience, the audience was forced to connect with Byron in other ways. Hobhouse sees his intimacy with a living Byron passing on into death, and takes control of his memory as a way to keep Byron respectable. He can only make Byron respectable by convincing the public to efface th e mystical qualities ascribed to Byrons body, and replace the mystique of the body with his co mmodified remainshis poetry, his letters, his portraits, and his possessions. Hobhouse, of course, had little luck convinci ng the public to abandon their obsession with the celebrity corpse. Since Byrons poetry referred to Byrons personality, and Byrons personality was seen housed within Byron s body, Hobhouses disinterested reaction to the corpse and his desire to remain fully in cont rol of Byrons memory became quickly dwarfed by the sheer amount of mourners who wanted to be as close to the poet as possible. Byrons body was seen to be the only remnant to the fierce, aristocratic and poetic authenticity he signified. Even the containers that housed his body b ecame relics. The October 19, 1825 edition of The New York Times reported that the tube in which Byr ons remains came home was exhibited by the captain of the Rodney for 2s. 6d. a head; afterw ards sold to a cooper in Whitechapel; resold to a museum; and finally sold again to a coope r in Middle New Street, who was at that time using it as an advertisement (qtd. in Lamb 363).18 Everything that t ouches Byrons corpse becomes sellable and expresses the celebrity By ron marketed to his fans. The marketing of intimacy by the celebrity figure transforms the everyday object into an expression of Byrons personality and repository of his memory. Mere ly touching the tube that housed Byrons body becomes a way fans can become intimate with the remains of authenticity. The immediacy of 18 This anecdote is recounted in a footnote to the 1913 ed ition of Charles Lambs poems. The footnote references an epigraph Lamb wrote about Byron, arguing that the latter re mained an alcoholic for the rest of his life. So lordly Juan, dd to endless fame, / Went out a pickle and comes back the same (363).

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79 such objects, and their claim to have touched the dead poets body, became more tantalizing than the sober words of a friend who desired to r ecuperate Byrons reputation and his personal intimacy with the poet. Many other accounts of Byrons body rested upo n the notion that the corpse signified Byrons celebrity, and that it fu rthermore materially manifested his essential pe rsonality. Clare Clairmonts journal satirizes Byrons body and mocks her former lovers narcissism by suggesting that, during his autopsy, [h]is heart laid bare, [the doc tors] find an immense capital I grown on its surfaceand which had begun to pierce the breast (qtd. in Page 167). The literary play of Clairmonts prose teas ingly suggests that his body succum bed to his self-centeredness. Even though her account is satirical and meant to be read allegorica lly, the actual autopsy follows the same pattern of overlaying Byrons celebrity characteristics onto his body. The doctors noted that Byrons corpse still preserved the sarcastic haughty expression, which habitually characterized it (Milligen 142). Byrons body, it would seem, became a prisoner to his celebrity. Pierced by the physi cal manifestation of his inner narcissism and retaining the characteristics that had famously defined the By ronic hero during his lif e, Byrons corpse is literally formed out of the commodified traits of his literary figures. In death, Byron physically reflects the personality he marketed. Edward Trelawny affects this same transfor mation of Byron into his marketed self. Trelawny, unlike Hobhouse, underscores his intim acy with Byron andlike Clairmont and the autopsy doctorreinforces Byrons celebrity by making his physical characteristics reflect his famous personality. Trelawny is also the only friend of Byron that publicly disclosed his viewing of Byrons corpse. Trelawny claims to have visited Byrons corpse mere days after his death. He sees the corpse as more beautiful even in deat h than in life. The contraction of the skin and

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80 muscles had effaced every line traced by time or passion; few marble busts could have matched its stainless white, the harmony of its proportions, and its perfect finish (225). Here we see Byrons body becoming a Greek statue. Every muscle is seen, in death, to re veal the true beauty that Byron could only display when his skin c eases to move and, by not emoting, preserve the smooth texture found in Byrons portraits. Byro ns skin becomes statuesque, its wrinkles smoothed out by the effect of rigor mortis and it s surface shined to a perfect finish. Trelawnys description reflects earlier comments by Walter Sc ott that Byrons beauty caused a brother poet to compare it to the sculpture of a beautiful alabaster vase, lighted up from within (152). For Scotts brother poet, Byrons pale skin imitated the color and texture of the vase, and the light from his eyes revealed a beautiful soul enga ged in high thoughts. Death causes the body to embody Scotts desire, a perfect representation of the apotheosis of European art--the artist embodying the work of art. This conjunction of the Greek art with Byrons corpse is also a focal point of Joseph-Denis Odevaeres painting L ord Byron on his Death-bed, which portrays Byrons corpse as a perfectly preserved statue resting lightly on his bed and surrounded by pen, sword, and lyre. Trelawny implicitly argues in this descripti on that to appreciate Byrons art and his personality one should view his body. Byrons corpse had now become a perfect reflection of the intense aristocratic hero he portrayed in his poetry. By view ing the corpse, Trelawny bypasses the poetry and stares directly at the authentici ty materialized by the material proximity of Byrons body.19 19 Trelawnys description changes when Byrons servant leaves the room, and he fearlessly uncover(s) the pilgrims feet [] both feet were clubbed, and the legs withered to th e knee: the form and f ace of an Apollo, with the feet and legs of a sylvan satyr (225). The irony of this last passage reflects a long controversy over the state of Byrons legs after his death. One of the many controversies of Byrons death involved whether one, two or none of his feet were clubbed. The excavation of Byrons corpse in 1938 establish[ed] the fact that his lameness had been

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81 Hobhouse, Clairmont, Milligen, and Trelawny each used their intimacy with Byron to prepare a place for his memory after he died. Trelawny, especially, used his description to communicate the meaning of Byrons afterlife to his fans and to secure Byrons celebrity as a poet of beauty and aristocrac y. Despite Hobhouses quest to re scue Byron from scandal and secure his afterlife as a British poet of resp ectability, other accounts bank upon the promise of intimacy encoded within Byrons poetry to entice the interests of a fan-ba se who had collectively experienced the trauma of Byrons death. The focus on Byrons corpse as a repository for Byrons personality reacted against the trauma of his corporeal separation from the community; it assured readers and mourners alike that Byron had not disappeared, that the personality contained within his poetry literally reflected material realities etched on his body. Byrons market personality secured the body against the corpses mutene ss, and it reflected the poets expression of authenticity and poetic truth. The desire for poetic truth is signified directly by Byrons corpse. To be a true fan of Byr on during the years surrounding his death meant substituting the materiality of the corpse for the celebrity body, it meant becomingquite literallya necrophiliac. Byron and the Death of the Postmodern Academic But there are other people to do these thingsthe anim al welfare thing, the social rehabilitation thing, even the Byron thing. He saves the honor of corp ses because there is no one else stupid enough to do it. --David Lurie in Disgrace As he thinks these lines toward the end of J. M. Coetzees novel Disgrace, David Lurie is loading the corpses of dogs onto a conveyor belt that will dump th em into a large incinerator. Lurie honors these animal corpses; he keeps their limbs from being broken by the workmen of the right foot (qtd. in MacCarthy 574). The legs represented for both Byron and his readers an ironic deformity cutting across the image of the perfect British aristocrat.

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82 operating the incinerator. He notices that it is his stupidity that keeps him attached to the corpses, no one else will give them a final dignity. He recognizes the immediate, material need for someone to keep watch over the dead remains. And while the weighty bodies of stray dogs pile up at the eunthanist where Luri e volunteers, the need to pres erve Byrons cultural memory remains largely immaterial in comparisona co mpulsion on the academics part to maintain a cultural attachment to the literary celebrity after the death of its body. Luries care for the dead is a product of a stubborn stupidity, a compulsive necrophilia unable to detach itself from the dead libidinal object. The necrophilic attachment to Byrons cultural memory, I argue, largely informs Coetzees critique of academia in Disgrace. Byron has neither body nor corpse in the novel. There is no physical manifestation of Byron a nywhere, and yet his absence is felt keenly. Byrons seductive promises of intimacy are lost on Luries students His lectures on Byron and Wordsworth are met with silence and ignorance. Lurie regards his st udents as [p]ost-Chri stain, posthistorical, postliterate, without any care for the transcendental experiences of poets living in the past (32). The intimacy promised by the Byro nic celebrity, and the desire th at promise inspired, disappear along with the deteriorating corpse. David Lurie invokes Byron in his half-hearted seduction of his student Melanie, who pauses an d mentions poetry only with a passing interest. When asked if she writes poetry, Melanie responds, I did when I was at school. I wasnt very good. I havent got the time now (13). Lurie himself gradually shif ts attention away from Byron who is initially the subject of a planned scholarly work, then becomes the central character in an opera he decides to compose on the poets time in Italy, th en disappears completely from the work that now focuses on Teressa Guiccolis mour ning for the deceased and absent Byron. Disgrace dissolves the intimate material claim of Byrons co rpse into the vagarities of an irrelevant and

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83 politically problematic cultural memory and a po etic corpus whose existence has only a fading archival value. By focusing on the dissolution of the celebritys corpse into absence and irrelevance, Coetzee highlights the loss of intim acy in the University and the necrophilic attempts of displaced academics to reconnect with the literary celebrity. The inner workings of Byrons cultural memo ry in the novel are highly complex as it presents truths that are, in Linda Seidels words, limited, contradict ory, exasperating (1). Coetzee seems to relish in the afterglow of ar tistic creation, allowing David Lurie one brief moment of sublimity while composing Byron in Italy On the other hand, the outlook of Romanticisms optimism about the human spirit does not translate well into Coetzees harsh South African landscape. David Lu ries Byron is seen, at best, as a misguided revolutionary unaware of the limitations of his European brand of cosmopolitanism. The critique of Romanticism leveled through the figure of Byron in the novel is read quite compellingly by Jerome McGann as a parable of its limitations in the post-colonial novel. McGann, in fact, leaves the Romantic scholar with the depressing and gha stly task to go on with [their] memorial activities, as classical scholars have long since done with wo rks even more unbelievable than our own romantic works (Is Roman ticism Finished?). The Romantic scholar is told, in an almost Voltairian fashion, to tend to the memorial garden of the Romantic period and give up the ghost. McGanns suggestion that Romantic scholars sh ould start acting like classics professors reveals more than he seemingly intended. Bill Readings makes the same comparison when mourning the fate of liberal arts education. Th e English department, according to Readings, will suffer the same fate as classics departments. Their emphasis on a subject of culture that legitimates nationalism is no longer needed in the contemporary University. Classical texts will continue to be read, but the assumptions that necessitated a department of classics for this purpose (the need to pr ove that Pericles and Bismark were the same kind of men) no

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84 longer hold, so there is no longer a need to employ a massive institutional apparatus designed to make ancient Greeks into ideal Etonians or Young Americans avant la lettre (33) Readings sketches a portrait of the classics depa rtment separated from its traditional role as a disseminator of culture shaping the national subject. Nationalism used classical education to legitimate the present political climate and to pr ovide a set of heroic examples for young people to emulate. Readings argues that, in the wane of nationalism and the nationa list subject, the need for classics departments likewise diminishes. The appearance of Cultural Studies, and its attendant critique of nationalist and colonial ideo logy are symptomatic of the wane of culture as a central concern in the University, when it ceases to mean anything vital for the University as a whole (91). Cultural Studies can only exist when culture is a dead t opic. The centrality of Cultural Studies in the English Department and its focus on ideological critique signifies, for Readings, are the last gasps of a body that has already outlasted its own life and persists despite already being dead. In interviews and essays, Coetzee has voiced si milar observations about the current state of the University. In an article responding to Andr e du Toit, Coetzee calls the modern intellectual impossible without an idealism that is relate d to Romanticism. He, nevertheless, calls upon intellectuals to confront the cu rrent issues of what he calls intellectual colonization that inhabits the body of students in their speech, the rhythm of their bodies, their affective behavior including their sexual behavior their modes of thinking (111). Instead of hunting down the ghosts of the nineteenth century, in the form of racism or colonialism, Coetzee argues that we should really be confronting neoliberalism a nd globalization. In this corporate University operating in the wake of globalization, the bodies of students and profe ssors are possessed by neoliberalism. Neoliberalism co-opts the ghos ts of the past to inhabit the body of the contemporary, corporate academic. The University, as a corpse for cultural studies, destroys the

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85 critical capability of the Eng lish Department by materializing and exorcising its ghosts. These ghosts take on the form of the professor who is made to professionally in habit a subject position that is an abstracted, processed and institutionali zed form of the literary afterlife. Coetzees critique of the corporate University reflects the anxieties of David Lurie and contributes to the depiction of the professors ruined institution. Coetzee sees the academic entrenched in a corporate landscape of familiar ghosts and abstractions feeding the engine of professionalism. In an interv iew with David Atwell, Coetzee distinguishes between the writi ng of fiction and the function of the critic who develops abstractand commodifiablekno wledge. He points out the inherent tension between on the one hand the ar tist, to whom we can call the question of ones life or the question of how in ones own case, to live may be the source of a drama that plays itself out over time, with many ups and downs, and on the other hand the critic or observer or reader who wants to package and label the artis t and his particular question and move on elsewhere. Coetzees valorization of the artist centers on the use of the aesthetic in developing a life, over the course of ones life. The questions encountered while living life are played out in artistic experimentation and can take on difference vale nces throughout life. The critic, on the other hand, isolates these questions in a particular context, identifies that context, and packages and labels it with the intention of imitating and cont rolling the life of the literary celebrity. The tension between the life of the artist is contrasted with the else where of the critic. Where, we might ask Coetzee, does the critic go? Where is the elsewhere that defines the critics departure from the life of the artist? Coet zee never answers this question in the interview. But his lack of an answer recalls the image of the postmodern academic stranded in a landscape of corporate ghosts. Coetzees elsewhere signals a lack of life, a space occupied by abstractions that have little relevance to the living realm of the artist. There, in a space that is both possessed by the material ghosts of the past and ab stracted by the departure of criticism from the life of the artist,

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86 the academics role is to create a professional su bjectivity tied intimately to a life that can be captured with a label. By knowing the intimate a nd unchanging secrets of th e literary celebritys life, necrophilic academics secure their position as the ones who are most intimate with the universally desired figure. What can academics and scholars do in Coetzees elsewhere, but engage in critical memorial activities to honor corpses that no one else will? The need to preserve cultural memory despite its lack of an ideol ogical purpose alienates Coetzees academic from the larg er community that no longer shar es his concerns. David Lurie is no longer a professor of Modern Languages, but is instead unmoored from a specific department. He teaches one section of Romantic literature and two sect ions of Communications 101, a class whose premise Lurie finds preposter ous: Human society has created language in order that we may communicate our thoughts, feelin gs, and intentions to one another (3-4). Luries unexpressed counterargumen t, that language has its origins in song and the need to fill out with sound the overlarge and rather empty human soul, has no place in the University because its claim fails to resound in a syst em dedicated to what Mark Sanders calls instrumentation (4).20 Lurie sees his school as a transformed and, to his mind, emasculated institution of learning and his fellow teachers as clerks in a post-religious age reduced to correcting lapses in punctuation, spelling and usage, interrogating weak arguments, [and] appending to each paper a brief, considered criti que (4-5). Lurie minds his business, performs his instrumental role, and passive ly accepts his marginal status. The desire for intimacy with the celebrity in Disgrace is also translated into a larger problem of intimacy within the collegiate co mmunity. Instead of offering communal intimacy, 20 Sanders essay argues that Disgrace is about the capacity of language to alter itself and its speakers long after losing articulateness for those who have claimed privileged ownership of it (372). Sanders contrasts Luries use of the perfective in his classes with the stress on completion imposed by his academic institution.

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87 Luries corporate campus emphasizes individual professional development and the isolation of the scholar from his peers. As the University pr ofessor becomes more isolated, he attempts to form intimate connections with his students. Lu ries relationships to his idolized Romantic celebrities are staged as a relief from the inte nse alienation Lurie feels from his students, his profession, and his craft. Teaching is an obligation to the state, performed only to make money and to maintain some semblance of a connect ion with the world. Lurie continues to teach because it provides him with a livelihood; also because it teaches him humility, brings home to him who he is in the world. The irony does not escape him: that the one who comes to teach learns the keenest of lessons, while those who come to learn learn nothing (6). Lurie holds to an older, Platonic ideal of teaching in order to bring enlightenment to those who know little or nothing. But ensconced within an age without the desire to reach moments of revelation, he can do little but ape the same tired platitudes from the same anthologies. The only thing he learns from his experience with his students is alienation that reinforces his belief that he is doing nothing of importance in Cape Town, and that academic life offers nothing but isolation and meaninglessness. Luries only access to anything he considers intim ate comes in the form of brief flings he has with other members of his department and his students. Even these flings provide little excitement. Luries affair with Melanie serves as the apotheosis of his failed attempt to fuse teaching with his more poetic inclinations to brea k through the cloud of disinterest he feels in his everyday life. He mentions to Mela nie that poetry speaks to you either at first sight or not at all. A flash of revelation and a flash of response. Li ke lightning. Like falling in love (13). Poetry supplements intimacy for Lurie, it ignites an immediate feeling of connection that fuses one to the secret thoughts of the author. For Melanie, the words seem onl y half-sincere, completely cut

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88 off from the reality of her life. Melanies passivity in the early chapters of the book not only reflect her separation from the older academic, but also underscore the disavowed consequences of Luries attempt to regain intimacy with his st udents. Lucy Graham suggests that the initial encounter between Melanie and David is best read as a rape scene. The free indirect perspective of the novel plays upon Melanies silence to expose Lurie as part of an un expressed tradition of the college novel, a genre that often masks the inequalities, gender harassments and incidents of rape reported in campus life (438). Rape become s the dark underside of Luries search for intimacy at the University. Its silent presence in the novel is the obverse of Byrons absence. The discourse surrounding the possible rape of Melaine by her teacher suggests the necrophilic character of Lu ries libidinal atta chment to the ghosts in th e past and his students at the University. Necrophiliacs, as I argued earlier, derive pleasure from their domination over the corpse. The corpse cannot fight against sexual advances, nor can it cons ent to those advances. All love for the necrophiliac is, in essence, a rape.21 Similarly, Luries attachment to Byron suggests another kind of rape that is connected to the search for poetic authenticity. The celebrity cannot fully consent to the love offered by either the fan or the academic critic. This love is always, of necessity, one-sided; it is predicated upon a distance between the celebrity and the fan that contributes to the celebrit ys popularity. As a figure plagued with distance and isolation, not only believing in the authenticity offered by Byr on but also holding onto a Romantic idealization of love, Lurie cannot help but to be a necrophilia c and a rapist. His search for intimacy connects a necrophilic longing for an object that cannot consent to a pedagogi cal style that attempts to reignite love in a corporate University sp ace that is seen as abstracted and dead. 21 I am indebted to John Leavey for suggesting this line of inquiry.

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89 Lurie searches for intimacy with his st udents on a pedagogical le vel by rhetorically including them in his desire to be with Byron when the poet experiences aesthetic transcendence. He mentions to his students that the famous Mo unt Blanc is like Drakensberg, or on a smaller scale Table Mountain, which we climb in the wa ke of the poets, hoping for one of those revelatory, Wordsworthian moments we have al l heard about (23). He re Lurie transports European landscape and pastes it onto South Afri ca. Lurie stages his lectures as Romantic dramas of revelation. He keeps close to the demands of departmental curric ula and the historical arguments of people in his field, while hoping that miming the insights of poets in his class will lead to the same authentic experiences of Byr on and Wordsworth. He uses the memory of Byron, his famous claim to authenticity, as a personal and professional archetype. By teaching him in class, David Lurie becomes Byron, inhabits hi s voices, and speaks his maxims, all in the hope that his students would share the intimacy Lurie feels when writi ng about the poet. Luries imitation of Byron in the classroom is a desperate attempt to reclaim the intimacy promised by Byron as well as the authenticity he signified as a Roman tic artist from the academics growing sense of marginality. In his lecture, Byron not only signifies Luries guilt over seducing Melanie. He also serv es to provide a separate sphere of intimacy for the academic. By allying and identifying himself with Byron, Lu rie is able to condemn his students for their separation from the past and a pplaud himself for remaining authentically Romantic. In the classroom, Lurie makes distinct connections betw een Byrons life and his own. As he begins his lecture, Lurie quotes from Byrons poem Lara de scribing an individual who is a stranger, a thing of dark imaginings, that shaped/By choi ce the perils he by chance escaped (qtd. in Coetzee 32). The relationship to Luries life is not lost on the professor who finds, despite his misgivings, that he cannot evade the poem (32) As he elaborates the dark personality of

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90 Byrons characters, mentioning Lucifer in Byrons Cain as a figure who provokes sympathy but is ultimately condemned to solitude, Lurie takes the poem to be a direct commentary on his life. Lurie, too, provokes sympathy but this sympathy only proves how isolated he is from the university community. The professor takes on the pers onality of the dead poet to combat his growing sense of alienation. He ingests and incorpor ates Byrons memory into his body. As much as he recognizes the many parallels between Byrons life and his ow n, there are several that Lurie never seems to notice. Luries scandal and exile from the Univ ersity mirror Byrons departure from England after the public condemned his rela tionship to half-sister Augusta Leigh. His inability to connect with daughter Lucy reflects Byrons virtual neglect of his daughters, as he sent one to a convent to die and never knew the other. Byrons cosm opolitanism and attraction to the Orient is problematized by the very setting of the novel, in a South Africa attempting to find an identity after apartheid.22 If Byrons life is an arch etype for Luries, the setti ng has changed dramatically. The intense, authentic, even heroic personality of the poet is transformed into a quiet, pathetic personality of an academic fighting against aging and nihilism. The aristocratic, aesthetic, sexual aspects of Byron are molded into the figure of the disgraced academic. For Coetzee, the academic repl aces the question of life with the imitation of the literary celebrity who provides intimacy as a replacement for the questions undertaken by the writer for his life work. Luries character is fa mously self-deluded by his Romantic fantasies throughout the entire novel. He never fully admits the problematic character of his relationship with Melanie. He only slightly understands Lu cys reason for not leaving her farm in South 22 Jerome McGann mentions several parallels between Byrons life and Luries story in his essay on Byron and Coetzee. He also mentions Byrons famous love of dogs an d the violent treatment of do gs as a response to their being a symbol of white dominance.

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91 Africa. His reflections on the many complex political events he experiences are always filtered through a simplistic, nostalgic yearning for the Romantic past or a lament for the loss of youth. Luries composition of Byron in Italy, designed to relieve the academic of prose, implicates artistic creation in the sa me mourning ritual for a lost Romantic connection with the ghosts of the past. Lurie initially planned on having the opera fo cus on Byrons final year s in Italy. However, he decided instead to focus on mourning after Byrons death. Lurie senses that his creative reimagining of Byrons death subtly transforms his relationship with the poet. Instead of creating abstract prose and following the afterlife of the lit erary celebrity, Lurie imagines himself however fleetinglybecoming part of the artistic e xperience itself. As he begins to compose the music to accompany an impossibl e conversation between Teresa and a Byron who is long dead, Lurie reenacts the mourning process of the academic writing criticism. Lurie, in fact, imagines himself as a ghost who inhabits the conversation. In death, and in the afterlife, Lurie aesthetically inhabits the music of Byrons ghostly language. Six months ago he had thought his own ghostly place in Byron in Italy would be somewhere between Teresas and Byrons: betw een a yearning to prolong the summer of his passionate body and a relu ctant recall from the long sl eep of oblivion. But he was wrong. It is not the erotic that is calling to him after all, nor the elegiac, but the comic. He is in the opera neither as Tere sa nor as Byron nor even as some blending of the two: he is held in the music itself, in the flat, tinny slap of the banjo strings, the voice that strains to soar away from the ludicrous in strument but is continually re igned back, like a fish on a line. (185) This episode is clearly meant to support Coetz ees valorization of the aesthetic life above its imitation in the abstract thought of the academic Yet the section also shows how the academicartist, in his desire to merge with the ghostly voice of the poet, imagines himself as a ghost existing alongside the poet who ha s a closer relationship to life. If Byron is a ghost, mourned by Teresa, Lurie is even more insubstantial. He is held aloft by their waili ng and then slapped back down, caught in the beat of their memory. It is difficult to determine whether Lurie finds this

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92 moment exhilarating or a complete and final degr adation that condemns him to the isolation of death. As a fish caught in a line, Luries life is sa crificed to feed the memory of the celebrity. His voice is tethered to the whims of his characters, caught in the melody of their concerns. In Luries opera, Teresa keeps her letters from Byr on as her only remaining claim to immortality, a chest she calls her relique, which her grand-nieces are meant to open after her death and pursue with awe (181). Death confronts both Lurie and Tessa with the all-encompassing questions of life. It can only do so from the vantage point of the dead celebrity and his relics. Any claim to Luries immortality, and he realiz es that the opera he composes only offers a slight claim to a short afterlife, is couched in th e trace of Byrons corpse. In art, as in criticism, the celebrity corpse remains a potent reminder of the academics melancholy and a realization that the intimacy promised by the celebrity will never be fulfilled. Coetzee characterizes the academic as an impotent necrophilic fan, blinded by questions of authenticity and his yearning to remain close to dead literary celebrities. The academic cannot pose an adequate response to the possession a nd control of bodies by gl obalist corporations because the corporate bodies of the literary celebrity possess him. Unanchored from their purpose as disseminators of imperialist culture, academics compulsively return to their corpses and attempt to resurrect the memory of literary ce lebrity using their own bodies as repositories of nostalgia. Coetzees academic short-circuits im portant questions of authenticity, ethics, and politics by referencing Byrons values. Even when he seems to get rid of Byron, and removes him entirely from his opera, Luri es necrophilia lives on in his ch aracterization of Teresa who wants to bequeath her memories of loving the celebrity to her children. Lurie wishes to leave something as well, something aesthetic and authentic. But, stifled underneath his own commitment to Byron, he can only produce another pi ece of fan-fiction tied to a series of songs

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93 that are not even composed by him. The focus on authenticity by the academic uses the promise of intimacy to bypass anxiet ies surrounding isolation, lone liness, and finally death. Symptomatically, the corpse returns as a reflectio n of the academics invisi bility and marginality, somehow convincing the academic that this marginality is itself worth preserving. George Gordon Byron, Postmodern Ph.D. In the introduction, I argued that Coetzees critique transform s the academic into a corpse of contemporary life. Coetzees fiction depict s the academic as a cultural sacrifice to the demands of political progress. I also argued that Byrons ambiva lent place in cultural studies emerges from his cosmopolitan ambitions, which I compared with the political ambitions of the academic. I want to take up this question of politi cal efficacy and present the figure of Byron as a way to imagine the difficulties of sketching a literary future for the postmodern University. Byron is an essential figure for Coetzee because he, perhaps more than any other artist operating during the age of British Romanticism, highlights the contradictions of the imperialist but still liberal and radical ambitions of literary education. The institutional existence of liberal education cannot be understood outside of th is contradiction. And, at the same time, it is the place of postcolonialism within the English Departmentthe very place where one would expect to find critical consideration of J. M. Coetzees workthat this contradi ction is the most palpable. As an institution within the postmodern University, postcolonialism i nhabits Byrons contradictions and compulsively returns to the corpse of th e Romantic author to stage its critiques. A good example of this contradiction is Gaya tri Spivaks meditation on the future of literary studies aptly entitled Death of a Discipline Spivaks book attempts to find a new purpose for literary studies in an age where nationalist boundarie s are dissolving and where the practice of Comparative Literature nevertheless continues to expl ore what she calls Europe and the extracurricular Orient (6). She suggests redefining the study of comparative literature,

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94 pulling it away from area studies, focusing on the more complicated issue of border crossing, and perhaps most surprisingly transfor ming the identitarian category of the globe with the natural and environmental figure of the planet. Her utopia n tone throughout the book is toned down with a list of her institutional limitations. Toward the end of the book, Spivak admits that: Cultural studies is heavily invested in New Immigrant groups. It seems to me that a planetary Comparative Literature must attempt to move away from this base. What I write in closing will give some indication of the way out, as far as a nonexpert can imagine it. These words are no more than scattered specula tions, to mark the limits of my rather conventional U.S. Comparative Literature tr aining: English, French, German poetry and literary theory, romantic and modernist. (84) Spivaks scattered speculations mark literature as a boundary of possibility for the literary academic, suggesting that the study of postcolonial literature figures an internal contradiction that cannot be resolved between the identity of immigrant groups and the need to find a new literary genre that can represent transnational, extracurricular e xperiences. Spivak picks at the corpse of her Comparative Literature training, providing a series of re adings that prove her intimacy with literary authors in order to sketch out a vision of the institutional future. Her apology marks an institutional reluctance to move aw ay from the form of exegesis and attempt to find some other way to understand and appreciate the global circulation of lit erature. Literary scholarship is still made to touc h the boundaries of its extracurricu lar Orientalist po ssibilities. Spivaks postcolonial academic becomes the postmodern cosmopolitan, enlightening the reader who is trapped within older, nationalist structures of thought a nd reclaiming literature from its imperialist past. The academic can both support an essentially progressive function for literature and train the imagination to think beyo nd the strictures of natio nalism. Spivaks role for literature is still Romantic. By highlighting a traditionalist mode of literary interpretation grounded in the exceptional figure, Spivak marks co mparative literature as still an essentially European, Romantic, even Byronic activity. Byro ns poetry, after all, provided many British

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95 subjects their first literary glimpse of the exot ic Other and sketched ou t the subjectivity of the enlightened, cosmopolitan reader. Spivaks literary limitations show just how difficult it is to move past the model of celebrity that is so entrenched in the literature department. Far from moving past imperialism, literary discourse circle s around the strictures of Byronic Orientalism. The Byronic corpse becomes a bridge for the academic attempting to think the Other. Byron conjoined the intimacy of the celebrity with the excitement of travel and the attraction of intellectualism with liber al politics. As a nexus for critical humanistic thought, Byrons corpse signifies both that which academics wish to leav e behind and that which they, secretly, always wished to be: privileged, yet cr itical; beautiful, ye t iconoclastic; poetic, yet popular. Byrons afterlife in popular fic tion obscures his afterlife in the figure, perhaps ev en the very body, of the postmodern academic. Clinging to the material artif acts of the literary celebrity, proclaiming the necessity for understanding the real historical si tuation in which Byron lived, attempting to argue for the ultimate idealism of Byron against his detractors, Byron scholar s look very much like those intimates who fought over cont rol of his physical remains. Perhaps what Spivaks example shows us is that the true professor of the postmodern University, with its attendant freedoms and li mitations, should be Byron. As students of Romantic thought, we should neither proclaim the death of Romanticism nor dwell on the problematic ideologies of men who shared the prejudices and ideological assumptions of the early nineteenth century. Literary education is, th erefore, not an exercise in training oneself to think differently, as such an e ducation merely reinscri bes the market imperative to produce new commodities. It also, however, cannot simply reflect on a past whose corpses are pilfered for new histories. As Coetzee implies in Disgrace, Byron is a figure through which the contradictoryoften oppressiverealities of mi sunderstanding the colonial Other can be

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96 thought. The postmodern academic continues to be part of that misunderstanding. By analyzing Byrons reception as a repressed, disavowed desire for poetic, aristocratic and academic authenticity, we can begin to understand the cult ural impact of his co rpse upon a globalizing University.

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97 CHAPTER 4 THE STILLBORN PAST: ACADEMIC REALISM, THE HAUNTED SUMMER OF 1816 AND KEN RUSSE LLS GOTHIC Despite the fact that the haunted summer of 1816 is one of the most dramatic and perplexing historical events occurring during the Romantic period, few academics choose to write historical criticism about it. James Riegers powerful a nd memorable 1967 argument that the received history of the contest in writing ghost stories at the Villa Diodati is almost entirely fictional has kept most literary historians from touching the subject (461). Yet academics consume fictional, biographical, filmic, and theatrical recreations of the event and present them in their classes. In 2001 Ron Broglio and Eric So nstroem incorporated elements from the Diodati myth into their FrankenMOO : an online teaching environment that allowed users to pick up Byrons famous skull cups, observe the decayi ng portraits of Byron s family, and become characters from Mary Shelleys novel.23 Texts like Anne Edwardss novel Haunted Summer (1989), Howard Brentons play Bloody Poetry (1989), Paul Wests Lord Byrons Doctor (1989), and Gonzalo Suarezs film Remando al viento (1988) are frequently found in Romantic period surveys. Even while questioning the historical validity of the events at Diodati, academics continue to use these fictional recreations as pedagogical instruments to introduce students to Lord Byron, the Shelleys, and John Polodori. This contradictory attitude towards the events at Diodati strikes at the very heart of academic subjectivity in literary studies and th e degree to which such identity depends upon the mourning of the dead literary celeb rity. Stephen Greenblatts presid ential address to the MLA in 2002 defined literature as, at least in one context, the triumph ove r death, and criticism as an 23 See Sonstroem Do you really want a revolution?: CyberTheory meets real-life pedagogical practice in FrankenMOO and the conventional literature classroom for more information about his collaboration with Broglio on the FrankenMOO

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98 act to keep alive and to circul ate what might otherwise be silenced forever (420, 423). The academic, according to Greenblatt, preserves the memory of the past against its annihilation. He suggests that the University is a special commu nity [] constituted by the ability that each of us has to be seized with the conviction that someone we do not know is addressing us personally and with eloquence (418). Furthermore, this moment of being contacted from the beyond is a silent moment, constantly renewed, acting as the essence of academic professional life (419). He links this intense absorpti on to his childhood, where the books in Greenblatts home inspired an interest in reading that would later culminate in his academic identity. Greenblatts theory of a special connection between the literary academic and the dead, renewed not only through the production of new cr itical work but also through inspiring new generations of academic critics, I call academic realism. Academic realism seeks a relationship between the academic critic and a voi ce from the past that the critic is trying to contact. It also seeks to renew that connection by inspiring students in the cla ssroom and introducing them to this special connection. Realists attempt to make the voices of the dead present by codifying and memorializing these voices in critical discou rse. While the feeling of connection motivates Greenblatts academic, he never argues that connections between the academic and the past or the future are successful. In fact, the unsuccessful or bad connections between literary critics, their progeny, and the dead interest me in this chapter. These bad c onnections made by the academic give rise to an uncontrollable process of phantasmic doubling in the discourse su rrounding the Haunted Summer. By analyzing biographi cal retellings of the Villa Diodati event along with Ken Russells reviled film Gothic (1987), I explore the complexities of academic realism and reveal the gothic elements underpinning its special connection to the dead. I first turn to the role

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99 biography plays in the dissemination of the Di odati tale. The intrusion of the gothic into biography complicates realism by including uncanny and occult expe riences in literary history, and by invoking a mass readership that is part of the gothic novels history. Then, I turn to Russells film to illustrate how he appropriate s the Diodati story to comment on film and historical realism by linking the go thic form with the desire to penetrate Byrons home. I show how Russells film frustrates the connection to the past through its fr aming, the casting of its main characters, and the intrusion of painting into its mise en scne. The uncertain place of the Haunted Summer in literary history is exposed by the symptomatic rhetoric surrounding its retelling in literary biographies and the frenzied depiction of the event in Russells film. This chapter uses Russells film and biographies su rrounding the Haunted Summer of 1816 to analyze the boundaries of academic realism as a series of interrupted, uncanny connections infiltrating the special relationship between the academic and the dead. Death, Realism, and the Academic Politics of Biography Biography h olds a central place in the constr uction of literary history. This point is especially so in studies of the Romantic period where literary history is still influenced by the personalities of its writers.24 Biography is also frequently cited in historical criticism. Both Fiona MacCarthys biography of Byron and Jonathan Bates biography of John Clai re are widely used in historical treatments of the poets.25 Despite the dependence of hist orical criticism on Romantic 24 See David Chandlers essay One Consciousness, Historical Criticism and the Romantic Canon for a particularly interesting reading of the relationship betw een New Historicism and the canon. Chandler suggests that two historicisms emerged out of the 80s: one that challenged the canon and one that did not. A large strain of criticism held onto the canon, according to Chandler, to produce a relevant an d provocative challenge to orthodox Romantic studies. Despite their emphasis on marginalized figu res, new historicists still focus on personality to prove the importance, and thus the due celebrity of previously unr ecognized figures. 25 See Mintas Lord Byron and Mavrokordatos, and Claire Knowless Poetry, Fame, Scandal: The Cases of Byron and Landon. for criticism citing MacCarthys biography. See Sarah Houghtons John Claire and Revaluation, and Michelle Faulberts Cure, Classificatio n, and John Claire for criticism citing Bates biography. Jonathan Bate actually contributed to the Romantic Biography collection and was pr aised by its editors.

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100 biography, many academics are reluctant to align th emselves with the popular form. Christopher Rovee, in a review of a co llection of essays titled Romantic Biography, called biography the mass consumerable form of literary scholarship that, like film, straddled a dangerous line between popular and academic audiences (737). The separation of academics from the dangerous forms of film and Romantic biogr aphy highlights the fear that a good portion of academics still have toward being identif ied completely with popular audiences.26 Academia uses the biography as a source material for cri ticism, yet Rovee suggests that academics must also separate themselves from what he considers a popular form. For the editors of Romantic Biography, history provides the separation between academia and the uninformed popular masses. Romantic biographies, Rawes and Bradley argue, traditionally focus on transcendental genius, are n eo-conservative, and fail to get to grips with the social, political and philosophical radicalism of the Romantics themselves (xiii). As such, Romantic biography acts to disseminate mythology rather than real history. Academics, say Rawes and Bradley, are too serious to buy into the suggestions of biographers, many of whom overdramatize the lives of their subjects for popular audiences. The editors cite Francis Wheens biography of Marx in which the author informs us that, while working to destroy western capitalism, the philosopher used to go on drunke n pub-crawls in Soho (x iii-xiv). The editors reject such lurid details for the more sober work that stresses the proper historical contexts for Romantic writers. 26 It is important to mention that many academics do not mind being identified as fans Constance Penley, Andrew Ross and Henry Jenkins are widely known as academics who identify with the fa n community. In fact, Richard Burt has argued that academic-fans want to occupy all positions be the virtuoso, the one wh o can cross over, do it all (15). Henry Jenkins has responded to this critique by arguing that theory emerges both within and without the academy, and that academic theory production is simply one subcutural or institutio nal practice among many (13). My argument is more focused on an institutional reluctance by the academic who, as academic, refuses to be identified with a mass readership. The subjectivity of the academic is boundc ulturally, economically, and institutionallyto reinforce the boundary that Jenkins dismi sses between themselves and the fan. As Burt argues with reference to Penley and Ross, the academic wants to keep the boundary at least faintly in place (15).

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101 The dichotomy between sober history and luri d biography sublimates an anxiety with mass readership that structures Rawes and Bradleys approach to literary sc holarship. This anxiety appropriates realism, supported by the authority of the academic institution, as a means to exclude mass audiences. The practice of appr opriating biography for critical work remains dangerous for these academics because it exposes sc holars to the racy details of the literary past and could turn them from more sober and seri ous historical work. Th e racy details surrounding the writing of Mary Shelleys Frankenstein (1818) provide a useful example to understand what I call a gothic intrusion of lurid enthusiasm into the discourse of sober history. As a case in celebrity and history, th e Haunted Summer of 1816 offers wh at few other literary events do. 1816 can be seen as one of the first celebrity events And, its status as a ce lebrity event is related to the production of literature. The featured person alities are a list of some of the most prominent British writers during the time including Byron, Ma ry and Percy Shelley, and John Polodori. The event itself gives birth to two of the most enduring legends of horror: Frankenstein and the modern Vampire. Diodati during the summer of 1816 acts as a kind of nexus for Romantic celebrity. Another way to consider the summer of 1816 is to show how its legend is disseminated, repeated, and produced by popular a ccounts of Romantic history. Studyi ng the lurid details of the Haunted Summer can help us to explore the more gothic aspects involved in the production of history. As James Chandler provocatively argues in England in 1819 the historicism of 80s and 90s criticism acts as a repeti tion of the Romantic intere st in history. He sees the interest in cultura l chronology, rather than being expl ained away as an anachronistic cultural projection from the present onto th e late-Romantic period, could be understood instead, or in addition, as a suppressed residu e from the earlier period still operative in the contemporary practice of literar y and cultural history. (33)

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102 Chandler characterizes historicism from the pos ition of doubling and repe tition, suggesting that the elements making history so attractive during the Romantic pe riod emerge again in 80s and 90s English Department as a newfound interest in historicism. For me, the emphasis on residue and repetition also argues for the reemergence of older debates in new forms. If the Romantic interest in history emerges in newer forms of cr iticism, perhaps other questions related to history can also be explained as repetitions of older debates emerging once again. The tension between racy and s ober history could, I suggest, be seen as a repetition of the nineteenth-century contest between the gothic an d realist novel in Britain. Bradford K. Mudge contextualizes the debate between the gothic and realism in term s of gender. He also suggests that the reduction of the gothic to the more popular and less radica l horror genre had its origin in the need to redefine class roles due to the rise of a middle-class readership. The novel, according to Mudge, became legitimate to literary circle s by rejecting its imaginative excesses. The depiction of magic, specters, demons, and ghosts in a form which did not relegate them to the status of mythology but instead reveled in the possibility of their ex istence threatened the emerging middle-class of female readers and co uld not offer what Mudge illustrates was the selling point of realism: the r eal artistic experience, that unsullied intercourse between authorial genius and readerly taste (98). Nineteenth -century realism offered a proper and sober intercourse between reader and wr iter. It controlled the imaginat ive excesses of the gothic novel, provided protection to its femini ne readers, and normalized fe male sexuality along middle class lines (94). The discourse surround ing the rejection of the gothic novel and the ascension of realism involved concerns over normative sexuality and a desire to connect directly and properly with the voices of the past.

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103 Following the work of Chandler and Mudge, I argue that repetition, haunting, and doubling intrudes upon and complicates the connection between the dead and the academic reader. Biographical accounts of the Diodati event repeat the commonplaces of Mary Shelleys novel, providing a picture of Roma ntic history that reawakens the imaginative excesses associated with the threat of the gothic novel. The Diodati myth, rather than being a moment exclusively relayed to contemporary audiences through sober realism, is punctuated by lurid references to ghosts, curses, and uncanny coincidences. These referen ces threaten the prope r intercourse between reader and writer with racy de tails, wild speculati on, and tempting digressions. This section argues that the gothic elements embedded in the Haunted Summer of 1816 emerge as uncanny doubles of academic realism. In the context of the Diodati story, lurid and sober history supplement one another: one is inextricable from the other. As we will see, the Diodati story included gothic and uncanny details from the beginning and used the desire for a historical explanation of Frankenstein to sell the third edition of the novel. Since uncovering th e fictional roots of Marys introduction, sober historicists have separated themselves from the myth. Most often they leave the telling of Shelleys story to historical fi ction writers, biographers, and f ilmmakers. The reluctance to tell the story of Diodati, or to investigate its historical impact on the popularity of Frankenstein marks an uneasy relationship with the more gothic elements of Mary Shelleys introduction and an anxiety with the ghosts that populate the boundaries between the writing of literary history, historical fiction, and literary biography. There has never been a scholar who really, and as scholar, deals with ghosts, Derrida says in Specters of Marx (11). The scholars uneasy relationship with the Haunted Summer of 1816 re flects uneasiness with the repressed ghosts of mass culture lurking within the celebrated c onnection between the academic and the dead.

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104 These ghosts of mass culture inhab it Mary Shelleys 1831 introduction to Frankenstein which was produced by the author to satisfy fans who desired an explanation for the creation of the story. Mass culture inspired Marys story, and it also gave Mary the incentive to exaggerate some of its aspects in order to re produce the excitement of reading Frankenstein for the first time. The story of the novels production had to be as horrifying as Shelleys novel. Shelley relocates the dark laboratories of Geneva to Byrons Villa Diodati and a horrible rainstorm that forced the writers to find shelter. Victors expe riments in animating dead matter are given reallife counterparts in the discussions between Byron and Shelley over the famous scientist Erasmus Darwin and the claims of galvanism. Mary re lates her tale as part of an effort to explain How I, then a young girl, came to think of, and to dilate upon, so very hideous an idea? (5). Instead of sketching a woman singularly obsessed with images and ideas that are unworthy of a young girl and highlighting her oddity, Mary locates the origin of her st ory in a series of extraordinary yet relatable elements that culminate in a horrible dream. The introduction begins with a dream in wh ich Marys imagination unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images th at arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond the usual bounds of reverie (9). The form of the dream allows Mary to revel in its imagery without carrying that imagery into her waking life, except in the form of a possession that suggests she had little agency in writing the novel. The dream also convinces her audience that she is not ordinarily engaged in such ghastly thoughts as reanimating the dead. The focus of the story originates in the realm of dream: a co mmon image frequently employed by Percy Shelley to explain the fantastic images occurring in hi s own poetry. If the events in the novel seem too imaginative for a young woman, Marys introducti on argues that they can be explained by reference to the ideas discussed by her promin ent masculine friends, the dark and suggestive

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105 scenery of Byrons Villa, and their impact on he r unconscious imagination. These culminate in a dream whose vividness expands the bounds of her e xperience and spurs her to write the novel. Her dream so possessed my mind, th at a thrill of fear ran through me, and I wished to exchange the ghastly image of my fancy fo r the realities around (9). The image of an exchange between her dreaming and waking worlds is particularly important here. By including that economic metaphor, Mary distinguishes betw een the sobriety of her waking life and the fantastic elements of her dreaming life, which is embodied in her fict ion. Mary is not able to easily get rid of my hideous phantom, until she thinks to use the ho rror to write her ghost story and frighten my reader as I myself had been frightened that ni ght! (9). Marys dream becomes tethered by the demands of fiction. She uses fiction to shift fr om her gothic dream to her proper waking life and back again. Even as they retain the same atmosphere as Shelle ys novel, the events recounted by Mary in the introduction serve as an anchor for their more fantastic elements. These events serve, in the introduction of Frankenstein, as a double for the events of the novel. However, the history surrounding the compositi on of Marys novel is not as simple as Shelleys introduction suggests. Frances Wilson has shown in a close reading of the diaries of John Polodori, Byron, and the Shelleys, that ther e was no consensus regarding the events of the haunted summer (170). Polodoris account gets mu ch of the biographical material completely wrong, including Percy Shelleys age and the fact that Claire had a relationship with Byron not with Percy. In each of the accounts, a different group of people engages in the conversation involving the possibility of using electricity to animate dead ma tter. Mary acutely remembers a conversation between Byron and Shelley. Polodori says that it was betw een himself and Byron. Claire, meanwhile, asserts that the conversation was between Po lodori and Shelley. Wilson even places the originality of Byrons suggestion that they each co mpose ghost stories under question

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106 by noting the first few pages of Phantasmagoria which tells its readers to relate a story of ghosts (167). Instead of being an idea of Byrons, the famous ghost story competition was a double of the events of the novel, and existed rhetori cally as yet another of the series of narrative introductions (including Robert Waltons letters to his wife and the story of Walton speaking to the dying Victor Frankenstein) to the novel proper. Wilson argues that the haunted summer is, in fact, a ghost story used to frame Frankenstein. More contemporary biographies recounting the Diodati event perpetuate this fabrication by embedding their stories in clichs that circulate th e basic elements of gothi c literature. The gothic demands of narrative shape the historical unders tanding of 1816, yet many books that attempt to reproduce the events of the Haunted Summer are mocked for inaccuracy. Radu Florescus attempt to reconstruct the events of Diodati in the 1975 bi ographical history In Search of Frankenstein with help from Alan Barbour and Ma tei Cazacu was met with mockery by the academic establishment. Jan Perkowskis piece on the book for the journal Slavic Review argues that the biography holds no professional interest suggesting that it is not a book of literary criticism, history, folklore, or even cinematography; and it is certainly not a detailed psychological analysis of fetus envy. Although it contains bits of all these features, it is basically a travelogue, a sentimental journey (585 ). Perkowski is most uneasy with the authors speculative nature, his choice to prove most of his assertions based on circumstantial evidence and what Florescu calls histori cal insight (58). It is the more racy details, the discussion of eighteenth century androids and the suggestion that Mary Shelley knew that a Frankenstein family actually lived, which disturbs Perkowski mo st (58). Florescu uses an intuitive method for constructing literary history, and because much of this history is mired in speculation and insight, the serious historian rejects it outright. My point here is not to valorize speculation

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107 above serious research, but to suggest that Fl orescus book provides insight on the discursive reception of the Diodati myth and the reaction of the academic to the more fantastic aspects of the myth. In constructing his intuitive history, Flor escu injects elements of the gothic into Marys story. In a particularly vivid example of the gothi c elements operating in the text, Florescu describes the demonic weather occurring in Geneva during the night of the reading of Phantasmagoria : Let us imagine the evening of June 16th: outside the rain and wind are pounding against the tall windows overlooking the veranda, lightning is marching over the lake, and thunder echoes in the mountains. At Diodati, everyone huddles in the main living room, around the fireplacewaiting for a cue. (118) Florescu then describes the juxtaposition betw een the raging storm outsi de, the reading of the ghost story, Byrons recitation of Co leridges Christabel, scientific descriptions of galvanism, and the work of Erasmus Darwin. Florescu place s these elements into a story whose background is already unusual. The American northwest, New England, and the Canadian Maritimes were covered in ice and snow. Crops froze in the middle of the summer, snowstorms killed several people, a food shortage in Europe resulted in riots, and red and brown snow blanketed Italy and Hungary (118). Such a context lends the physical environment n ecessary to the composition of a novel of horror, implicitly arguing that even the weather wanted to inspire Mary with visions of terror required for the com position of Frankenstein.27 The author uses short dashes for dramatic pause, and then quotes from Polodoris diary that shockingly describes the sudden breakdown of Shelley at the moment of Byrons recitation of Christabel. Delighted at the overwhelming imagery of the diary, the author surmises that 27 For more information about the summer of 1816, see Henry and Elizabeth Stommells Volcanic Winter: The Story of 1816, the Year Without a Summer

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108 Coleridge wrote Christabel shortly after Mary Wollestonecraft died. Noting that Coleridge was a friend of the Godwins, Florescu asks is it to be wondered that Shelley, probably under the influence of laudanum, should have left the room terror stricken at seeing Marys or her mothers ghost? (118). By attempting an intuitive recreation of the ev ents at the Villa Diodati, Florescu ends up suggesting that Mary Wollestonecrafts ghost haunt ed Percy. Shrouding that ghost story in the hallucinations of laudanum for the sake of part ial realism, Florescu questions how much the Diodati group participated in their own horror story and ends up mimicking the commonplaces of the gothic genre. The scene attempts to invoke a sense of the uncanny, repetition, and doubling. It thereby illustrates that the atmosphere mirrors both the dramatic scenery of Christabel and the not yet written Frankenstein. Shelleys novel acts as a ghostly retelling of an event that, according to the aut hors, really happened. Conversely, th is event performs an act of prophecy and dark foreboding. The subsequent chap ter A Summers End, quickly turns to the dramatic suicide of Polodori, the deaths of Mary s sister Fanny, the drowning of Percys former wife Harriet, the passing of all Mary and Percys children save Percy Florence, and finally the deaths of Percy and Byron themselves. Florescus treatment of the haunted summer argues that the writing of Frankenstein is not only reflective of the even ts experienced by Mary Shelley, but also suggests that the novels go thic inspiration might be respons ible for the deaths of many in the group. We are left to wonder how much the haunted summer prophesized the downfall of the Diodati group and if, more horrifyingly, it did not cause their deaths. In Florescus hands, biography becomes a ghost story serving as a spectral double for Frankenstein by incorporating the same gothic narrative elements as the novel. Gothic and uncanny elements frame the archival

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109 evidence in the biography, creating a narrative in which history exists as a phantasmagoria of coincidence and uncanny repetitions. The Diodati event inspires phantasmic speculation, where supernatural forces do not explain historical events, but their influence is not entirely ruled out. This method of analysis blurs the line between fiction a nd history, indirectly suggesting that the uncanny influences the production of scholarly and popular histories regarding the Di odati event. The uncanny is, therefore, not simply a theoretica l category but rather a repressed fo rm of historical analysis that emerges like the return of the repressed (if only du e to the racy, intuitive nature of Florescus work). By repressing the gothic elements of this history, the academic can give up the ghost, ontologize the remains of the past, and publish th em as serious, sober, realist history. The repressed form of historical analys is embodied in popular biography returns in Dorothy and Thomas Hooblers The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein The narrative of the book uses historical sources but constantly slips into a gothic mode, where, like Florescus work, the whole of the Diodati circles biography ma rches inexorably towards death and destruction. The first senten ce of the biography emphasizes th e collision of the gothic and history by arguing, [i]t actually was a dark and st ormy night (3). The Hooblers move then to fill out the individual re putations of each figure and sketch out the gothic evening. Flickering candles and burning logs in the fireplace provid ed the only light, other than the flashes of lightning that abruptly illuminated the windows (5). The Hooblers are so comfortable with the gothic as a narrative device that it quickly take s over the biography. The introduction culminates in the gothic intention of the biographers: A dark star hung over all the brilliant young pe ople who listened to Byron reading horror stories that night. Though their futures seemed limitless, early deaths or stunted lives awaited each of them. It almost mi ght be said that the writing of Frankenstein placed a curse on the lives of those who we re present at its birth (5-6)

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110 The Hooblers place the supernatural elements fi rmly in the realm of the as if. In the process, they highlight the uncanny elements of the biography. The Hoobler biography assumes the role of historian, ye t this historian also employs curses and prophecy to explain events. The parade of qualifiers in the final sentence of the material quo ted above (almost might be said) underline the biographers role as historian wh ile reconstituting the sl ight possibility for supernatural elements to infect the historians pu rpose. While the history of the Diodati event is recovered through documents and first hand accounts in The Monsters the theatricality of the prose and its spectacular invocation of dark spirits, evil stars, curses, and monsters highlights the occult expectations of those who read a gothic tragedy starring thei r favorite literary celebrities. The mechanisms governing the Hooblerss narra tive work portray thei r characters history with gothic elements that parallel Frankenstein. Mary Shelley is portrayed as the product of a doomed marriage between her parents Ma ry Wollestonecraft and William Godwin. Wollestonecraft dies giving birth to Mary Shelley. This fact shapes Shelleys life and, according to the Hooblers, constantly reminds her that her own life began in death. She was aware from childhood that her birth was responsible for the d eath of her mother. This trauma and guilt would be one of the central factors in he r life, and would find an outlet in Frankenstein (37). Marys horrifying beginnings force her towards her fate as an author. The Hoobl ers begin the biography with a sense of fatalism, focused around the inevitabl e publication of Frankenstein and the sense that Mary cannot help but be the focus of tr agedy. She was born from tragedy, shaped by the sense that she caused her own mothers death, and seemed fated for further misfortune. From the beginning Mary is primed to be the main charact er of a gothic tragedy, as the Hooblers sketch out the deaths of her children, her friends, and her family.

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111 The short biographies of Percy Shelley, Clai remont, Byron, and Polodori set each of them up as secondary characters in Ma rys gothic romance. Percy is the dashing lover who is more adventurous than faithful and whose inability to swim portends his final fate. Claire is the anxious lover who quite probably had children with both Byron and Shelley. Byron is the aristocrat whose desire to become the adventurou s characters he portrayed in his poems forces him to seek glory in the Greek fight for independence. His fear of losing his reputation as an adventurer forces him to stay there, catch sic k, and die. Finally Polodori is the jealous pseudowriter who, never able to finish his own works a nd shamed by his inability to become a famous writer, dies by his own hand. The Hooblers finish his story by de picting a sance performed by Polodoris nephew William Rossetti y ears after his life. After dete rmining the identity of the ghost, Rossetti asks the ghost Are you happy? The only response is two raps on the table, which Rossetti interprets as not exactly (235). Polodoris final scene depicts him as a dissipated apparition still loitering with his sorrow. Spiritualism, furthermore, becomes the way to celebrate Polodoris contribu tion to literary history, as it gives Rossetti the ability to understand the inner secrets of his uncles re lationship with Byron, the composition of The Vampyre and his most private thoughts after death. The Monsters highlights a tension between the afte rlife and celebrity by focusing on the remnants of its primary characters after their de ath and linking those remnants with the mourning of those they left behind. The Hooblers achieve this tension most when they recount the postmortem reconstruction of Perc y Shelleys literary estate by his wife. They set this story around the claims made by various members of th e Diodati group for Shelleys body-parts after his cremation. Byron, according to the Hooblers, ha d wished to retain Shelleys skull after his death. Edward Trelawny, however, remembers Byrons habit of drinking wine out of skulls and

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112 so allows the head to be consumed by fire. Leigh Hunt had claimed Percys heart, even though Mary also wanted the heart. He gave it up only after Mary pleaded with him for a long period of time. Mary keeps the heart in her writing desk for the rest of her life. By invoking this image of a bereaved wife keeping the body parts of her deceased husband and wrestling them from the iconoclastic hands of Byron a nd Hunt, the Hooblers demonstrate the degree to which Marys mourning for Percy reflects the desires and obsessions shared by Vi ctor Frankenstein. While the Hooblers do not simply accept the curse Frankenstein as historical reality, analyzing the curse nevertheless provides a narrative that bridges the many events described in the biographies of the Shelleys Byron, and Polodori and also act s to explain a set of uncanny experiences. The Hoobler biography traces literary history as the history of a curse. It appropriates gothic commonplaces and the persistent myth of the curse to transform the uncanny events of the haunted summer into a ghost story that acts as a double of the novel Frankenstein. The story surrounding the creation of Frankenstein for the Hooblers, focuses on the mystery of creation and its consequences, something that co ncernedeven, at times, tormentedall five of the people at Villa Diodati. In th eir outsized passions, their remarkable talents, their distorted personal lives, their never-satisfied yearning for lovethey were all monsters (323). By making this connection between literature and biography, The Monsters highlights the uncanny resonances between writing and life. It is the hyperbolic exis tence of the Diodati group that transforms their memoryand their historyin to a group of monstrous occurrences. The Hoobler biography functions to produce that histor y, a history of hyperbole, into a gothic tale of monsters and ghosts. To e xplore the mysteries of cr eation, the Hooblersperhaps unintentionallyemphasize the more mythic aspects of celebrity: the birth of Frankenstein out of an unnatural summer and a haunting dream, tragedies surrounding Marys conception that

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113 characterize the overall tenor of her life, and th e obsessions of Byron, Polodori and Percy leading them fatefully to their deaths. Th e Hooblers portray literary celebr ities as mythical creatures of tragedy prone to phatasmagor ias and tied to prophecy. The Monsters and In Search for Frankenstein foreground the part the uncanny plays in the creation of the literary past. The gothic elements in Florescus in tuitive treatment of the haunted summer use phantasmic association to provide a br idge between the more unrealistic aspects in Mary Shelleys introductory story and the historical artifacts that prove something in fact happened in 1816. The Hoobler biogr aphy appropriates the same historical artifacts and diary entries to trace a genealogy of the novels curse upon its authors. In the hands of the biographer, mourning becomes part of the act of reading a nd writing history. The biog raphies use repetition, foreshadowing and doubling to suggest historical causation. The strict separation between racy and sober history, by scholars interested in analyzing the contexts out of which literature emerged, rein forces the academics uneasiness with the more uncanny aspects of exploring the pa st. While serious history rejects racy details in favor of the more serious artifacts populat ing academic research, it does so by favoring an ideology of academic productivity. It is the job of the literar y historian to translat e individual acts of mourning into statements that can heighten their indi vidual level of prestige and perpetuate an industry filled with those interested in di sseminating a productive academic conversation over literary studies. Professors tend to their graduate stude nt flock by making sure their research is productive. Fans also reproduce, but this reproduction produces nothing but undisciplined enthusiasm (in the eyes of academics who are used to published articles and scholarly books as markers of a more scholarly productivity). The normalized productivity of the literary academic is contrasted, in this way, to the undisciplined enthusiasm of the fan interested in knowing the

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114 racy details of their favorite celebrities. By dividing racy from sober academic history, and the serious historian from the one merely interested in lurid details, academics tell their fan-doubles to keep the hideous progeny of th eir intercourse in the closet. Ken Russell and the Ghosts of Celebrity Ken Russells underappreciated 1987 film Gothic provides a useful example of a film straddling the line between sober and racy history. While heav ily utilizing historical details to tell its story, Russell nevertheless crafts a tale more suited to the horror genre than prop er literary history. The Diodati group is depicted as not constructing stories but conjuri ng monsters, contributing to the history of the occult rather than the history of letters. Gothic is campy, and overacted. Its juxtaposition of gothic elements onto historical fact verges on the sublime and the grotesque. Russells film deconstructs the line separating go thic, racy memorialization and sober history, leaving its audiencesfan and academic alike confused about the history surrounding the summer of 1816. It is not difficult, in this c ontext, to see why neither film critics nor Romanticists know what to do with Russells campy invocation of th e British Romantic period. Rick Albrights short review of the film written first for the NASSR listserv then published on the online journal Romantic Circles, not only condemns the film for its twi sted vision that does more than a little violence to the events of that fateful summer, but notes that to write a review of the film at all risks being driven off the list. Albright s comment was probably tongue-in-cheek, but it also signals the amount of vitriol many Romanticis ts associate with Russells film. Film critics were baffled by it. Donald J. Levitt called th e film talky without sayi ng anything, unconvincing, and even lacking the self-indulgent filmmakers us ual energy. Levitt lambasted the film for its

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115 historical inaccuracies, cheap soundtrack, and co mplete oversimplification of the reason Mary Shelley began work on Frankenstein .28 The rejection of Gothic by Romanticists and film critics si gnal the investment both have in a sober theory of history and the proper representation of iconic literary figures. Russells film oeuvre, in general, rejects both historical real ism and proper representa tion. In a 2005 interview with John Tibbetts, Russell explains that it is the artistic side of the biopic that interests him. For Russell, the majority of biopics seemed like nothing more than nonsense to me. I didnt associate them with art or music. You hear the word biopic used a lot these da ys. Its become a clichd term. I think some filmmakers think its an easy thing to do, but its not. Too often you never get a sense of the art, just people in costum es doddering around. Im not so interested in the physicality of it all, but the spiritua l, and poetic, and creative side of the subject. (40) Russell has demonstrated his preference of the artisti c side of the biopic over the historical and the physical in several of his features. In The Devils (1971), for example, Russells use of Derek Jarmans starkly ahistorical sets emphasizes the entombment felt by the inhabitants of Loudun. Jarman and Russell forsake historical accuracy for providing a visceral sense of the mania surrounding the execution of Ur bain Grandier. Russells Mahler (1974) likewise foregoes historical realism and focuses instead on an allegorical and musical interpretation of the composers lifestructuring his biogra phy around the themes of his music. Lisztomania (1975) chronicles the life of its titular character in a seri es of scenes that are akin to rock videos, and 28 While the filmmaker is not entirely devoid of atten tion, recent criticism of Ken Russell is scarce. Notable exceptions include the work of John Tibbetts, about whom I will talk later, Barry Keith Grants article The Body Politic: Ken Russell in the 1980s, and Anna Powells Deleuze, Altered States, and Film Grant reads Russells work in the 80s as a response to Thatcherism that both embr aces [] and resists its neo-conservatism (183). Powell uses the opening scenes of Russells film Altered States (1980) to explore Deleuzes film theory and articulate the experience of the cinematic as an alteration of consciou sness. Russell was covered in a number of works from the 1970s including John Baxters An Appalling Talent: Ken Russell Colin Wilsons Ken Russell: A Director in Search of a Hero Joseph Gomezs Ken Russell: The Adaptor as Creator, a collection of essays edited by Thomas R. Atkins titled simply Ken Russell Diane Rosenfeldts Ken Russell: a guide to references and resources Gene Philipss Ken Russell and Ken Hankes Ken Russells Films Joseph Lanza has completed a new biography of Russell called Phallic Frenzy: Ken Russell and his Films which provides little criticism of individual movies, while providing interesting insight into their production.

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116 climaxes in a vision of its virtuous rock star Liszt dive-bombing the vampiric anti-Semitic Wagner into oblivion with his angelic fighter plan e powered by the harmonious melodies of past lovers. Tibbetts has shown that such eccentric visions of the artistic possibilities of the documentary and biopic genres caused strife in Russells early career at the BBC. For a documentary on Prokofiev (1961), Russell wanted to use a real dancer to illustrate the power of the composers music. While the BBC allowed Russell to take scenes from Sergei Eisensteins October (1927) to add to the film, they refused to have a living actor in the documentary. Later on, Tibbetts recounts, an actor was allowed to portray the aging composer Bartok in a documentary with the same name. The actor, howe ver, could not voice any lines. It wasnt until 1965s The Debussy Film that Russell was allowed to use an actor to indirectly portray the composer Claude Debussy. In order to get ar ound the BBCs reticence to use actors, Tibbetts notes, Russell used Oliver Reed to portray an actor portraying Debussy (167-8). By making a film about film, Russell injects th e fictional into the historical, but does so to protect his film from the BBCs injunctions against us ing fiction in documentary features. The Debussy Film replaces the haunted voice of the dead composer with Oliver R eeds voice, splitting the past from its source and highlighting the dependence of performance on the construction of historical narratives. Gothic merges Russells interest in artistry with his concern ab out the filmic production of history, but does so in a way that provides a critique of historical realism. Russells film links the compulsive pathology of mimetically reconstruc ting the pastembraced by both the fan and the scholarwith the mourning of the celebrity poet. It also deploys the uncanny to provide a critique of literary reproduction: the sense that producing literary works will secure the perpetual

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117 memory of the author. By analyzing the relations hip between the image of the literary celebrity, tourism, and memory, the film illustrates the pl ace of mythology in the construction of history. By meditating on the uncanny nature of celebrity painting and por traiture, Russell suggests that the dissemination of the celebritys haunted image invades the historical foundation of any realist representation of the past. Rath er than being an expose of th e haunted summer of 1816 as a historical event, Gothic analyzes the desire to enter the pr ivate lives of liter ary celebrities and gain control of th eir afterlives. Russell doubles accepted histories by framing his film neither with academics discussing the importance of the haunted summer to the publication of Frankenstein nor with the authors themselves, but instead with tourists fantasiz ing about what could have happened in Byrons home in 1816. The framing of Russells film around tourism allows him to place the entire film in the realm of fantasy and desire, demonstrati ng how both impact the co nstruction of literary history. The first scene focuses on a series of overlapping gazes moving from a house rented by Byrons fans, to the Villa Diodati and back ont o a lake surrounding the v illa. The quick shots produce a rhythm of gaze, expectation, and the unknown that frames its analysis of mourning and desire. Initially, we are met with Byrons fans dressed in drab, monotonous clothing. Their only source of excitement stems from the chance to see Byron emerging from his home. Russells first shot focuses on a small group of fa ns with their tour guide. Before long, Russell cuts away to a second story of the house, showi ng that there are many more who long to see and to be intimate with Byron. The fa ns are extremely important to Gothic and they show up in several of the scenes as an al most invisible background to the ev ents happening inside. Russells use of costume in this first scene emphasizes th e lack of individuality among the fans. The fans

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118 search for this individuality in Byron who, as we move further into the film, is always portrayed in colors contrasting shar ply with the background. Russells first few shots align the audience with the desires and the frustrations of the fans. While Russell returns to the first establishing sh ot again and again, portr aying the fans taking turns looking into the telescope, he suggests that the true gaze depict ed in the film is that of the audience itself. This audience is locked into the s hot by Russells use of iris shots to simulate the experience of looking into the telescope. Russells use of the two iris shots allows the audience to identify themselves with the tourists at the beginning. These shots, along with the seeming vacuity of the tourists and thei r drab clothing, make it quite appa rent that their only place in the film is to serve as a stand-in for the film a udience. While the substance of the story focuses on the Diodati group, it is always framed by the incons equentiality of the fans. In a later scene, Polodori briefly mentions the fans and puts two ch ampagne glasses to his eyes to suggest their telescopes. Shelley remarks that they should not be wicked, due to the fact that the group is being watched. Byron replies that they shoul d, on the contrary, b lind them with their wickedness. The presence of the fans in the firs t scene actually impacts the events at Diodati, and the reality of what happened in Byrons house is inextricable from its existence as an object of the fans gaze. The tension between the centr al story and its frami ng device serves as a backbone to the events of the film. This tension has several consequences in this first scene. As Russell locks the audiences gaze with the iris shots, he also provides us with a shot of one of the fans looking through the telescope. The telescope juts into an extreme close up, with its sh aft protruding back into the eye of one of the fans (Figure 4-1).

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119 Figure 4-1. Erecting th e Telescope (2:35). The phallic nature of the telescope is hardly difficult to notice. It is just o ff center in the shot, and the two-thirds profile highlights its length and its erect position. A particularly desperate tour guide takes advantage of the sexually charged si tuation by placing his hand onto one of the fans and lightly grazing her breast. He says bedroom, top right, rolling the final r, and licks his lips as the female fan looks for Byron. The tele scope pierces the Byron home and leads us, via a cut from the shot of the fans, to the bedroom. As the audience is aligned with the iris shot, the fan with a sexual desire to pierce the Byron bedroom, and the tour-guide with a desperate desire to leech off of the mania of the fan, Russell shows us that the desire to understand Byrons inner life is related to a desire to penetrate him. The celebrity is made into a passive recipient of the fans sexual energy, its ultimate desire being to physicalize the largely image-mediated experience of Byron. The fans want to make By ron flesh and dominate him with their phallic gaze. While we do not see the fans again until the final scene of the film (this time in their twentieth-century incarnation), the first scene pr ovides the audience with a disjunction between the image-like phantom of Byron available fo r commercial consumption and the reality of

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120 Byron as an ultimately inaccessible figure. Byrons very inaccessibility focalizes the rest of the film and titillates the desire of the fans to truly know Byron. The gaze impacts the actions of the Diodati group later on in the film, yet it can neve r adequately fix the au thors. Gazing gives the audience nothing but a string of automatons, actors, and stand-ins for Byron himself. The second iris shot features a figure in the window of Byrons bedroom that acts as his first stand-in (Figure 4-2). Presumably, this figure is Byron. Figure 4-2. Byron?! (2:40). Anyone who sees the rest of the film, however knows it is actually John Polodori: Byrons doctor and biographer. Russell replaces Byron with Polodori in this shot to place the tour-guides knowledge of the poet in doubt. For all his posturi ng, the tour guide (like us) does not really know who Byron is. Russells iris shots of Byron s bedroom also suggest that the window is a portal to Byrons world. Deborah Lutz has sugge sted that Byron acts culturally as an unbounded subjectivity containing everything and thus can decimate all of it, hence dwelling in and interiorizing nothingness in all its vastness (57).29 The expectation of seeing Byron eclipses 29 Lutz refers, specifically, to the structure of the Giaour and to the sense that the Byronic hero fails to encounter otherness as a traveler without interiorizing that otherness.

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121 everything for the fans in the first scene. Byron ac ts to exteriorize the self, to transform the world into Byron, and to thus destroy otherness by focusing all desire upon himself. By replacing Byron in this first glimpse into the bedroom, Russ ell transforms the power of his cultural aura into a flat image that can be inhabited by a nyoneincluding Polodori. The lack of knowledge about Byrons appearance furthermore throws the truth of the entire film into doubt, and buttresses Russells interest in artistic flamboyancy as a tool to investigate history rather than be bound by the cultural power of Byrons celebrity biography. The disjunction between Byron and his image is repeated in the next shot. The camera focuses on a close-up of a figures back looking outside the portal/wi ndow, with a dark high contrast between the inside of Diodati and the la ke outside (Figure 4-3). The confusion of the Figure 4-3. Byrons back? (2:44). earlier shot is heightened by a strange voice who says Oh look Polly, what a pleasant surprise! Unexpected visitors. While Polly could refer to the parrot sitting by the mysterious figure, it could also refer to Polodori. Polly was a co mmon nickname for the doctor and is frequently used by Byrnes Byron in the film. Yet the vo ice sounds like neither Polodori nor Byron. The camera fixes on this mysterious figure, with a mo re mysterious voice, and then zooms toward a

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122 boat on the lake. This boat contai ns the other central characters of the story: Claire Clairemont and Percy and Mary Shelley. It is the figures monocle that acts as a zoom lens, providing a diegetic complement to Russells camera. The lens, in this first scene, mediates knowledge of the events occu rring inside Diodati. This scene transforms historical knowledge into spectacle, literary celebrities into images pierced and then consumed by telescopic lenses, and the s ubstance of history into an imagistic phantom whose reality is fueled by fantasy. Getting to the central events of the story involves moving through a set of gazes. By utiliz ing the confusion of these gaze s, the first scene radically questions the realism of all ev ents occurring in the movie and presents the knowledge of Diodati by the fans as always indirect and incomplete. The final scene inverts some of the assumptions of the first scene, but nevertheless recuperates the emphasis on incomplete knowledg e that frames Russells film. The visual fantasies of the first scene are replaced with tourists whose id entities are unknown, who listen to a bodiless voice, and who shuffle easily into and out of Byrons home. While the fans of the first scene travel from Britain to see Byron and to be close to his celebrity, the tourists of the final scene visit Diodati as an empty tomb. The fantas y of making Byron flesh is replaced with an overwhelming sense of mourning that hollows out Diodati as a space of fantasy. The fan yearns for Byrons presence, while the tourist memorial izes his lost presence. Before moving to the present day, Russell presents us with a final, pensive, mid close-up shot of the Diodati group. The mock happiness of the group contrasts with Ma rys visions of their deaths in an earlier scene. Byron assures Mary, naively, that ghosts do not come out in the day. Fading in the transition between scenes and becoming the very ghos ts that Byron represse s with his delusional happiness, the image of the Dioda ti group gives way to a modern day version of the same shot.

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123 Russell replaces the figures of the poets with thos e of tourists visiting the villa in the late twentieth century. He also uses a continuity shot to bridge the past with the present, and to seemingly erase all of the phantasmic probl ems he introduced in the first scene. The final shots present the same problems as th e first scene. This time, the tourists are largely invisible and the scene meditates on the disa ppearance of the poets. Instead of iris shots, Russell shoots several points of view moving between a ship floating on the lake surrounding Byrons home and the fields in front of the vill a. In each one of these shots, we are separated from the identities of the tourists inhabiting the scene. The first shot of the tourists shows them from the back as they move toward Byrons hom e. Russells second shot of the tourists views them from the side as they take photographs of the scene. The third and final shot depicts the tourists from the first shot turning around and waving at the ship. These fi gures are, however, so far in the background of Russells shot that their faces are completely obscured. Instead of an unknown object of fantasy viewed by subjects who are completely known, Russells final scene depicts a Diodati that has been completely opened and saturated by the tourist fantasies of the first scene. These fantasies are made available to faceless tourists who approach its history as a speech delivered by a bodiless voice. The megaphone acts as the media ting object in this final scene, emphasizing the vacuity of the historical knowledge it relays. The sense of vi sual alienation experienced in the first scene by the tourists acting as living spectators is repl aced by a machine whose voice tells history as a story ready for quick consumption by the tourists It delivers this hist ory in a quaky voice-over that summarizes the fates of the Diodati group: Three years after that fateful night, Mary s son William was dead. Two more of the Shelley children later died at birth. Shelley himself drowned at the gulf of Spezia in 1822. That same year Allegra, Clai res daughter by Byron, also di ed. Byron survived her by two years, dying of fever in the Greek war. His biographer, Dr. Polodori, committed suicide in

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124 London. Eight years after the night at Diodati, on ly Claire and Mary remained alive. But something created that night 170 years ago lives on, still haunting us to this day: Mary Shelleys Frankenstein. The simple, almost parodic voice listlessly names off a series of traumatic events, gliding over the horror of death with a disconcerting apathy. As the voice valorizes Mary Shelleys novel, th e camera cuts away from the tour ship onto a mid-close up shot of a dead baby floating unde r the lake surrounding Byrons home. This is Marys stillborn William, a figure appearing visually or alluded to several times in the movie. The camera lingers on the dead baby, and then zooms in for a final shot (Figure 4-4). Figure 4-4. The corpse ne ver decays (1:24:00). The stillborn baby represents a kind of death passed over by the majority of proclamations about death in the movie and by the distracted tour ist culture whose variety of gazes cannot look directly at the baby. Interestingly, Russells invo cation of the stillborn child is historically inaccurate. Mary had no stillborn child. Her firs t child, as Anne Mellor points out in her

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125 biography, was born two months premature (31). She survived a little unde r a month. It is this child Mary refers to in the introduction of Frankenstein However, the inaccuracy of Russells use of the stillborn baby has larger implications for the films questions about literary persistence and survival after death. The voice-over by the disembodied tour-guide suggests that the monster in the novel persisted despite the deaths of the Diodati group. This reference to persistence mocks the faith both Percy and Byron express about the immortality afforded to poe ts through their writing. In the dinner scene at the beginning of the film, Byron mentions his obsession with im agining the changes death would make on the faces of his lovers. Russell then cuts to a closeup of Claire with Byron in the background. Byron squeezes Claires cheeks, forcing the noodles she had previously been eating to spew out of her mouth (Figure 4-5). Figure 4-5. Immortality in Putrefaction (10:01). The noodles reflect the leeches and the worms w hose presence signals death throughout the film. Worms are crawling on the face of the dead knight feared by Mary in her imagination during the reading of Phantasmagoria Polodori replaces the ri ce in Byrons late nigh t snack with leeches, much to the horror of the poet. And in the fi nal scene Mary has a vision of Byrons death,

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126 leeches used to bleed him crawling all over his body. The worm and the leech threaten the poets pristine account of immortalit y. The Byronic poet feeds upon the health and beauty of the young and transforms their features of health into thos e of death and decay. Immortality is for poets, Byron proclaims, looking at Percy in an unvoiced moment of literary solidarity. Russells choice to close the movie with the still dead, but perpetually preserved, baby forces its powerful image into this discourse of survival. The baby signals the flotsam of literary creation, the remains of the dead author haunti ng the discourse of immortality voiced by Byron in the past, and the literary tourism of the pr esent. The dead baby is the refuse of literary creation. As an inert object, the baby compli cates many of the hermeneutics of memory presented in the film. In the opening scene, memory is a product of the gaze, film, and, tangentially, photography. In the closing scene, memory is mediated by the monological voice of the bodiless tour guide. The preser ved corpse floating at the end of the film weighs memory down and anchors it to the stillness of death. Th e perfect immortality promised as the product of literary creation has turned to its uncanny opposite: a being who dies at the moment of birth, whose death is its birth. The child, as the stillborn offspring of Mary, is re vealed as the repressed double of literary culture. To create the most reproductive book in literary history, Marys first child had to be stillborn and encrypted into the characters and sentences making up the novel. While the tourists seek a passing knowledge of the literary past, the sti llborn baby is passed over as the effluvia of literary culture: the unencountered undead excess of literary writing. It is the confrontation with this excess, or repressions of that confrontation, that structures the logic of Russells attitude toward historical realism in the film. As he interpenetrates biography and history, Russell also transforms the telescope and the painted portrait into the photograph and the film camera by suggesting that the canny aspects of painting become the

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127 uncanny aspects of film and vi ce versa. Russell portrays the camera as an extension of nineteenth-century portraiture, li nking the dissemination of celeb rity during the Romantic period with its manifestation in the film celebrity of the twentieth-century.30 By focusing so much on the juxtaposition of painted image with th at of film, Russell is able to displace Gothic from claims to historical accuracy and focus instead on the visual production of ce lebrity and its ties to death and mourning. According to Laura Mulvey, the invention of film and photography wa s closely linked to the rise of spiritualism and the popularity of the stage magician in the late 19th century. Photography provided people with the opportunity to view love d ones after their death, which profoundly defied the laws of nature and suggested to some people that the dead could persist after their demise: The uncanny and other of the phantasma gorias, in which technology and lingering superstition had been so closely entwined, was recast in rather different terms. The photograph actually preserved, mech anically, a moment of life stopped and then held in perpetuity. [] [T]he photograph was the desc endent of the natural magic shows of Kirchers and della Portas camera obscura. (45-6) Photography and film both conspired to provide an illusion of life where life had ceased to be. While the realism of the photographic image allo wed it to give the impression of life, the photograph also producedas Kojin Karatani ha s argueda fundamental split in the image produced by the photograph and the sense of a self-image existing independently of its representation.31 Photography divided life and its imag e from themselves in the act of preservation. 30 For a good consideration of the role portraiture played in the dissemination of celebrity in the nineteenth century, see Tom Moles account in Byrons Romantic Celebrity 31 See Karatanis Transcritique, where he uses Kantian terminology to argue that the photographs claim to objectivity is much more severe than that of either looking at a painted portrait or seeing ones reflection.

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128 The audiences introduction to Byron in Russells film underscores this splitting of the image from itself, suggesting th at painted art has the same pow er as photography to inspire the sense of doubling. Russells first shot of Byron places him in front of his own portrait. Byron is doubled, with the painted por trait acting to preserve his image (Figure 4-6). Figure 4-6. Byron on Byron/Byrne on Byrne (5:14). The portrait hanging on the wall is, oddly enough for the professional Romantic ist, not painted to look like the historical Byron but instead reflects the features of Gabriel Byrne. For audiences who do not know Byrons image intimatelynamely those who do not study Byronthe portrait would simply confirm the authenticity of Byrnes portrayal of the poet. It seems, on one level, to heighten the overal l realism of the film. For thos e who already know Byrons many portraits; however, Russells decision to base the image on Byrnes features only confirms that Byrne looks nothing like Byron. The unveiling of Byrnes image on what would otherwise be considered Byrons portrait, t hus divides the audience in tw o. Those looking for historical Even though there is always a photographer, his or her subjectivity is less influential than the painters, for there is an ineradicable, mechanical distance in the photographic image. Strange as it may be, we cannot see our faces (read thing-initself), except as an image reflected in the mirror (read phenomenon). And only thanks to the advent of photography, did we learn that fact. (48)

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129 accuracy are, in the first five minutes of th e film, disappointed. Those who, on the other hand, are already convinced of its reality as a guide into hist ory, look past the problems and enjoy the movie as a literary fantasy. The faulty image of Byrnes Byron sketches a history divided and al ienated from itself, providing the dark underside of the ontological conundrums argue d by film theorists such as D.N. Rodowick as a primary locus of phot ographys uncanniness. Photography, according to Rodowick, is a transcription of hi story while painting is merely a representation of the past. For him, following a well-worn tradition of scholar ship beginning with Roland Barthes, the photograph fixes a duration of time onto a photosensitive plate and, as such, remains a physical and indexical artifact of that dur ation. The photograph is a direct artifact of the past it depicts (Rodowick 55-6). Russells disdain for historical realism is expressed, on the other hand, by his utilization of painting as an an chorless archive of a past that perhaps never existed. Detached from its original state of being as history, pain ting is unmoored by Russell to invade the realms of the living. Russell depicts the power of painting in the f ilm by forming each of the Diodati group into portrait-like poses and merging pa inted portraits with several of his shots. The first encounter between the Shelleys and Polodori, shown soon afte r we see Byron for the first time, displays the latters awkwardness and his desire to be the subject of a celebrity portrait. Polodori displays an austerity that is quickly juxtaposed by Russe ll with a goatone of Byrons animal menagerie walking in front of the troubled physician. Wh en Percy dies, Russell forms a shot of his cremation that recalls Loui s Fourniers 1889 painting The Funeral of Shelley.

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130 Figure 4-7. Shelleys Cinematic Death. (1:18:55). The portraits presented in the background of Russel ls movie, constructed out of individual shots of the camera, provide a curious conjunc tion of the diegetic world in which Gothic resides and the historical images it continually displays. The fact that the images lead to no better understanding of the history surrounding the events at Diodati show that Russell has little interest in the concerns of living history. The proliferatio n of portraits, in fact, forces the Diodati group into a confrontation with death and sexuality, deflating the beli ef of Percy and Byron in an immortality secured by history and transmitted th rough their literary offspring. Russells parade of aesthetic doubles suggests that these pictures might not produce any history at all. Literary portraits are sterile in the film, and literary history a parade of discarded remains signifying nothing.

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131 The scene involving Marys c onfrontation with Fuselis The Nightmare is the visual apotheosis of Russells merging of photography with painting. As Maryanne Ward argues, the themes of Fuselis painting have analogues in Frankenstein and served to inspire Elizabeths death scene in the novel. Russell, however, abandons this historical information entirely and introduces Mary to the painting wh en she arrives at Byrons villa. Several scenes are shot with the Fuseli painting hanging harmlessly in the background, completely separate from the events occurring to the Diodati group. Yet only when Mary confronts Byrons liber tine sexuality does it become central to the films narrative. The Fuseli painting penetrates the diegetic boundaries of Russells film and threatens to dominate the orde rly unfolding of filmic temporality with a completely unproductive sexuality suggesting a thr eat both to Marys conservative attitude toward lovemaking and the promise of immortality through the literary work as autographic offspring. Russell begins the scene with Mary attending to her sister, who had been overcome in a sance. The camera cuts to a close-up of Mary flipping through a book of erotica. Thunder crashes in the background, and Russell employs sinister music to suggest Marys growing sense of unease. The film then cuts to an extreme cl ose-up of a sketch of Byron, inserted into the book. Mary focuses on the Byron sketch for a moment, then removes the drawing to reveal the lurid, erotic picture of a man pleasur ing a woman by fondling her (Figur e 4-8). The woman is stretched out on the bed and the man towers over her. She gently caresses Byrons picture, then quickly shuts the book.

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132 Figure 4-8. Byron as Fuseli (40:04). Russell shifts between close-ups of an uneasy Mary and a long shot of Fuselis painting, slowing zooming into a closer shot of the image (Fi gure 4-9). Curiously enough, the Fuseli image is not the original, but instead a reproduction made fo r the movie. Even while suggesting the uncanny aura of Fuselis painting, Russell provides us with a stand-in, a double, a reproduction. The posture of the woman lying prone on a bed, and an imp towering atop her, reflect those in the erotica book. The camera then focuses entirely on the imp before quickly shifting to a shot of Mary lying on the bed in the same position as the woman in Fuselis painting (Figure 4-9).

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133 A B Figure 4-9. Painting haunts film in A) Russells reproduction of Fuselis The Nightmare (40:48). B) Film version of Fuseli in Marys dream (40:56). The imp stands in for Byrons sexuality as a seductive force of a nnihilation. Instead of conceiving a baby from Percy and raising it to adulthood, Mary is overc ome by the imps power, subjected to his whims, and is completely power less to halt his advances. The imps power to dominate reflects Byrons power over women, a power Mary felt while reading the erotica book. Furthermore, its demonic and uncanny nature re flectsat least for MaryByrons refusal to claim his familial progeny: a dark nothingness at the center of his distinctly unproductive sexuality. Contrasting with Marys inability to raise a child and her desp erate attempt to bring that child back from the dead, Byron is portrayed in the movie activ ely rejecting the child growing in the pregnant Claire.32 In one particularly intense scene, Byron visits the prone Claire and gives her cunnilingus while Po lodori stabs his hand with a nail in an adjoining room. Byron 32 This characterization of the male as transgressive and the female as more conservative is a fairly recurring trope in Russells films. Even where the female is more tran sgressive, Russells films appropriate them into more conservative roles by the end of the film. In Crimes of Passion (1984), Kathleen Turner plays a woman who has a prostitute secret identity named China Blue. Yet her transgre ssive sexuality is clearly outmatched by the Reverend Peter Shayne (played by Anthony Perkins) who is a preacher driven to sexual violence and who carries a sharp metallic vibrator he nicknames the Superman. In Lair of the White Worm (1988), feminine sexuality is focused around a mythological creature named the Dampton Worm. Hugh Grant plays the masculine aristocrat who is charged with killing the worm. While the worm uses feminine sexuality to charm her victims, Grants masculinity is forced to destroy the threat to heterosexuality the worm represents.

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134 emerges from pleasuring Claire with blood tric kling down his lips, s uggesting that he had performed an oral abortion. Both the director and the audience, however, know that Claire is still pregnant. Russell portrays one of Marys visions focusing on the future Allegra dying in a convent years later. Yet it is th e suggestion that Byron cares ve ry little for his biological offspring and is more concerned with his literary reputation that forms the most distinct contrast between him and Mary. Byron represents to Mary a sexuality that is not productive and leads to nothing. Fuselis painting, as an extension of Byr ons nihilistic sexuality, mocks Marys stillborn child and threatens the heteronormative produc tion of children with nothingness and death.33 The painting also reduces literary history to pure gothic spectacle, as Mary is forced to enter the fictional, flat and spectacular worl d of the painting and is held hostage by the composition. The depth of the films claim to mate rial indexicality and th e historians claim to historical indexicality are both challenged by the now uncanny state of the painting as pure, flat, spectacle. Martin Myrone argues that Fuseli s work became popular in the late eighteenth century due to its ability to inst antaneously attract the eye with spectacle reducing the exercise of aesthetic judgment of a kind of dream-state which goes beyondand potentially underminesthe conventional subjectiv e experience of narrative (308-10).34 Fuselis work, according to Mynrone, was known to send people into a state similar to those of the incoherent spectacles embodied in the Phantasmagoria. Inst ead of deep contemplation, Fuselis painting instantaneously excited the eye with its grotes que creatures and lighting effects reflecting the 33 In one of the most obviously queer moments of the film, Percy Shelley kisses Lord Byron after defending him from Mary. While heterosexuality is reserved for women, homosexuality in the film is an exclusively male enterprise. 34 Myrones essay Henry Fuseli and Gothic Spectacle also reveals that the ar tist was frequently referred to as a wizard in a cultural climate that feared the reduction of art to pure spectacle. In a particularly interesting episode, Brooke Boothbya man who owned Fuselis The Nightmare organized an elaborate gothic masquerade [] which involved the Swiss painters donning a wizards costume, taking up a wand, and tramping around the woods to participate in a series of ca refully planned adventures (309).

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135 exaggerated, anti-re alist scene descriptions in gothic novels (295). In Russells film, Fuselis painting suspends both cinematic and historic te mporality by collapsing one in the other. Midshots of Fuselis composition mimic the gothic spectacle of The Nightmare on film, replacing the painted composition with a filmic take. In a brie f moment in Marys nightmare, it is no longer possible to distinguish the artistic from the historical, dream-state from waking-state, or life from death. Russells shot recreating Fuselis composit ion places the entire film in the realm of horrific spectacle, ignoring the de mands of history and realism. Or rather, the shot reduces film indexicality to just a nother gothic spectacle. Russells sequence of shots in this scene halts the proper experience of cinematic temporality by utilizing Fuselis painting as a gateway between desire, fantasy, and reproduction. The diegetic universe of Gothic tests the desire of Mary to propagate, both physically and literarily, by marginalizing the discourse of both to brief mome nts in the film. None of the authors mention writing anything un til the end of the film, in which Polodori and Mary engage in one tellingly short exchange about what they might write. Before the group decides to use their imagination to conjure a mons ter in the early scenes of Gothic Byron mentions that he does not want to write a ghost story at all. Polodori says that it is obvious Byr on is bored with poetry. Byron quips back, No sir, I am bored with life. Byrons aggressive response is a tad disingenuous. The entire group, like Russell himself, seems bored with poetry and history. Russell provides no scene of ar tistic production, no brief shot de picting Byron setting pen to paper. Mary is never shown even jotti ng down the notes that would later bring Frankenstein to life. A film purporting to examine the reasons why Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein depicts no writing occurring at all.

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136 It is in this sense that the fans and the tourists have their revenge on the academic in Russells film. By placing the story of Diodati in the context of tourism, Russell detaches its discourse from sanctioned academic forms of hist ory, creating a narrative that uncannily exposes the fantasies of an audience thatfor all its pret ensions to the sobriety of historystill takes pleasure in the racy story of 1816. As an una pologetic double to accepted academic history, Gothic threatens the mimetic construction of litera ry history by questioni ng its discourses of reproduction. It suggests that the author produces literary offspring and that this fact of reproduction, along with the social and political contexts in which this reproduction occurred, forms literary history as such. Russell provides ve ry little to academics whose fantasies cause them to pursue a more intimate relationship with th e lives of dead authors. As a filmmaker all too aware of the limitations imposed upon him by indivi duals valorizing history in the form of the 1960s BBC documentary films, Russell basks in the drunken Dionysian revelry of biopics and documentaries that signify and produce nothing bu t enthusiastic mayhem and celebrity spectacle. The Struggle for Academic Realism I have argued that academic realism rejects th e gothic nature of Russells film in order to define itself as a productive genre apart from the potent yet sterile chaos of popular and mass connections to the Romantic celebrity. Academic r ealism is an extension of the literary idealism voiced by Byron in Russells film: both seek to de monstrate their special connection to literature by a entering a discourse of reproduction. Academic realists point to crit ical productivity as a marker of virility. Literary idealists point to their writing as carry ing on their memory and providing for their immortality. Now I examine how the bad academic, the double of the figure demonstrating a special connection to the literary past, threaten s the discourse of reproduction and connection embodied in academic realism.

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137 The controversy surrounding John La uritsens public ation in 2007 of The Man Who Wrote Frankenstein challenged the special connection of the l iterary academic to the dead due to the authors lack of a fundamental post-graduate degree in English. Lauritsen is a maverick in the gay rights community who has sugg ested that AIDS is not caused by the HIV virus, that AZT is toxic and should not be prescribed to AIDS patients, and that butyl and isobutyl nitrate (known on the street as poppers) could cau se Kaposis Sarcoma. In his book on Frankenstein Lauritsen is equally provocative, arguing that Percy Shelley wrot e the novel. Lauritsen suggests that Mary Shelley could not have written Frankenstein due to her young age, her lack of a formal education, and what Lauritsen sees as the inferiority of her other novels. The truth of Lauritsens thes is is not important to my study here. The suggestion that Percy Shelley had written Frankenstein is not particularly new. Walte r Scott, for instance, sensed Percy Shelleys language in the novel when he wr ote his review in 1818. It is largely accepted that Percy adopted a marginal role in providing certain phrases to Mary when writing the first draft. Charles Robinson, in a roundtable discussi on with Lauritsen and Ne il Freistat, said that manuscript evidence suggests that at least ,000 of the words were Percy Shelleys. Percy is widely accepted amongst Romanticists as a collaborat or in Marys first book. Yet it is also clear, from Robinsons analysis, further literary fo rensics done by Freistat and the extra-textual statements made by Percy and Lord Byr on, that Mary wrote most of the novel.35 More important is the challenge Laurits ens book poses to the academys special connection to the ghosts of the past in the form of academic realism and its ability to mold the next generation of scholars. Lauritsen argues in the book that so many academics still assume 35 Charles Robinson says [t]here are probably two dozen references extra-textually where Byron says its Marys novel, Claire Clairemont says its Marys novel, Leigh Hunt says its Marys novel, Marianne Hunt says its Marys novel. So with all of that evidence, the extra-textual, I think its very hard to argue otherwise that it was written by Percy with only minimal intervention by Mary Shelley.

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138 Frankenstein was written by Mary Shelley because they demonstrate an inability to readan inability which, unfortunately, is all too common in academia, even among tenured Professors of English literature (26). If they open the book at all, Laurit sen suggests, academics do not have the subtlety or the care to read the text as it was originally intended. Camille Paglia, herself a controversial figure in the academic community, called Lauritsens book important not only for its audacious theme but for the devastating portrait it draws of the insularity and turgidity of the academic community. She added that she hope s the book will inspire ambitious graduate students and young faculty to strike blows for truth in our mired pr ofession, paralyzed by convention and fear. Paglia sees The Man Who wrote Frankenstein as an opportunity for graduate students to overthrow their overbearing parents. Lauritsen and Paglia emerge from this episode as twin harbingers of academic extinction: one threatens to separate academics from the special connection they have with the past by questioning th e authorial voice inhabiting Frankenstein the other from the special connection they have with the future by calling upon graduate students to overthro w their conventional mentors. The combined threat of Lauritsen and Pa glia resulted in vitriolic reactions to The Man Who Wrote Frankenstein Most of these reactions, like Paglias review, form their criticisms from the impact such a text might have on the academic community. Germaine Greer is particularly critical when she suggests that Lauritsen really hates radical feminists for silencing the discourse of gay literature. For Greer, the idea that fe minism displaces gay literature is an odd interpretation of the fact that womens studies is now gender studies and that queer theory is on every syllabus, but some people are never satis fied. Academia one-ups its challenge from Lauritsen by the very fact of its institutional be ing. Since queer theory ex ists, and queer theory appropriates everything from feminism to gay literature, then Lauritsen is now less politically

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139 progressive and less relevant th an his doubles in academia because he hasnt adopted queer theory over and above gay literature studies. Ga y literature studies interrupts an academic conversation that has already moved past what ever concerns Laurit sen may have over the representation of gay authors in literary studies. Jonathan Grosss review from The Common Reader engages in a more detailed textual argument against Lauritsen, but he neverthele ss frames his critique around the question of Lauritsens credentials a nd from the perspective of revisiting the dead. Paglia, after all, got a degree from Yale and Greer from Cambridge. They are in a different league than Lauritsen, whose pr ofession is market research. After attacking AIDS researchers, he has now lighted upon college professors. So he beats the dead horse of literary attribution, turning his attention to the morally dub ious task of disseminating (or is it marketing?) faulty information. (9) Lauritsen, according to Gross, injects the specte r of marketing into the pristine environment of academic scholarship. By linking marketing to faulty information, Gross suggests that Lauritsens background in market re search threatens the objectivity of academ ic scholarship with the corrupting influence of capitalism. Lauritsen is furthermore, occupied with topics that are dead to Gross. Grosss review characterizes Lauritsen as, again, interrupting an ongoing academic conversation with an outdated topic. Th is time the figure of the dead horse injects a more gothic element into Lauritsens challenge As an image of interruption, the faulty information bound up in the dead horse haunt s an ongoing academic conversation over the meaning of Mary Shelleys novel. To beat a dead horse is to bring back the dead academic past, to uncover buried topics and dead subjects a nd to challenge a separation between what is accepted as productive literary scho larship and what is considered the decaying corpse of a once relevant conversation entombed in the past.

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140 I do not mean to suggest that academics shoul d take Lauritsen serious ly or start referring to Percy Shelley as the author of Frankenstein Lauritsens book signifies, for me, the spectral challenge of the bad academic who impedes the progress of scholarship by resurrecting topics and political positions long thought to be burie d. In contrast to Greenblatts academic who maintains a renewable and special contact to the dead by contributing to the academic memorialization of the Romantic celebrity, La uritsens academic reanimates a reactionary specter, a dead critical horse, a nd implies that current English professors have neither the ability nor the care to attend to the li terary past. The realism of the good academic attempting to secure a connection to the dead and renew that connect ion by inspiring new students is displaced by the gothic intrusion of a bad academic peddling the de bris of outdated academic topics and seducing students with visions of overthrowing their academic parents. But these distinctions never really hold up. Lauritsens bad academic has realist de sires to establish a good connection with the dead just as Greenblatts good academic does not ignore the possibility of a bad connection. Marys historically inaccurate stillborn child, then, reveals not only the dead refuse underlying the discourse of literary production, but also es tablishes a connection to the dead Romantic celebrity that is constituted by junk, inte rruption, and unwanted or unauthorized ghosts.

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141 CHAPTER 5 INCORPORATING THE ROMANTIC CELEBRI TY: LITERARY ENCRYPTION, MARYS MELANCHOLY, AND SHELLEY J ACKSONS PATCHWORK GIRL While Frankenstein enjoys one of the most famous lit erary afterlives in popular culture, Mary Shelleys own appearances in film and cont emporary fiction are not nearly as numerous as her creation. With the exception of short roles in James Whales Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Roger Cormans Frankenstein Unbound (1990), appearances in films depicting the Haunted Summer of 1816, and a few biopics about her seemingly more fam ous friends and lovers, Mary Shelley hardly appears at a ll in popular films. The only e xplicit biopic about her life, Mary Shelley (2004), was produced as a documentary for Canadian television and never released in either the United States or Great Britain. In Mary Sh elleys case, at least, th e creator is not nearly as important as the creation. The popular marginalization of Mary recalls the sexist approach to Ma rys afterlife in the nineteenth century. Described most often as the husband of Percy, or the daughter of Godwin, Mary appears as a domestic figure sa crificing her name and her place in literary history for the preservation of someone elses memory. Henry W eekess commissioned sculpture of Mary Shelley cradling a dead Percy Sh elley in a pose akin to Michaelangelos Pieta exemplifies Marys secondary role. Mary is pict ured leaning in, grabbing and cradling Percys dead body. The poets dead body occupies the ce nter of the sculptures composition and physically pushes Marys body aside. Mary is pi ctured as a domestic mother for a masculine Romantic tradition, whose support for the more famous male poets marginalizes her own celebrity. While academic criticism is focused on envisioning a Mary Shelley who is not simply the wife of a dead poet, the figure of a silent and invisible caretaker of literature remains attractive to those who see the decline of literatures centrality in English Departments. Marjorie Perloff has

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142 argued that the contemporary English Department suffers from a lack of good caretakers for the literary tradition. She notes that interdisciplin arity has become other disciplinarity, and suggests that literature has become little more than a window through which we see the world beyond the text (654-5). Perloff imagines literatu re as a transparent figu re for the content of other disciplines. To preserve literary studies as a discipline, Perloff argues that we should abandon our attachment to other fields and learn the theoretical, hist orical and critical foundations of literature (662). By suggesting we abandon our attraction to the exotic lands of other disciplines, Perloff simply replaces the idea of literatures transparency with the belief that critics should learn the transp arent foundations of the discipline. This suspiciously neoconservative move would replace Mary on Weekes s sculpture with the literary critic, who would now become an invisible and ghostly suppor t to a literature made transparent by the disappearance of the interdisciplinary corpus. The pr omise of a return to l iterature acts only to turn the academic into a ghostly support for a fantasized disciplinary identity. Perloff, furthermore, imagines literature as an institutional manifestation of what I call in this chapter literary encryption: a collection of literar y ruins conjured into a cryptic body whose closure attempts to secure the disciplinary memory of the dead against annihilation. The crypt, according to Abraham and Torok, is the product fo rmed by incorporating the Ego in an attempt to preserve the memory of a love object against the destruction of the body. Reacting to a trauma whose full impact cannot be articulated in language, the crypt also designates what the authors call an enclave, a space where the love-object is preserved. Mourning that is inexpressible, in other words erects a secret tomb inside the subj ect. Reconstituted from the memories of words, scenes and affects, the objectal co rrelative of the loss is buried a live in the crypt as a full fledged person ( Shell and Kernel 130). For Perloff, the maintenance of a disciplinary identity in literary

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143 studies depends upon reclaiming a lost object of st udy and securing it as a stable base to argue for continued institutional releva nce. The secret tomb, for Abraha m and Torok, is filled with the dead who are kept alive and made into a person. For Perloff. However, the dead author is made into a personality who can be continually a ccessed by criticism, history, and theory. The academic is made into a guardian of the meani ng of the literary celebrity. If Perloff seeks to encrypt literary studies from the harmful influence of interdisciplinarity, I argue that the intended effect of such an encryption is to reinstate the special connecti on between the Romantic celebrity and the academic reader. Literary encryption t hus involves both securi ng the discipline against the harm of interdisciplinarity and reinforci ng the connection with dead literary authors by crafting a stable discipline to entomb their memory. This chapter explores literary encryption by looking at the example of Mary Shelley. The first section focuses on the critical and biographi cal invocation of melanc holy in the construction of Marys literary personality. Ma rys fictional writing is placed in a circuit with her diaries and her journals to reinforce her characterization as a melancholic and contro l the discourse of her disorder. Melancholy, furthermore, discipline s Mary Shelleys identity by encrypting her personality in a critical corpus that can be ex amined and diagnosed. The critical disciplining of Marys melancholy constructs her personality as a tomb for consumption by academic and popular audiences. The second section analyzes She lley Jacksons appropriat ion of Mary Shelley in Patchwork Girl (1995) as an investigation of the encryption of the literary in New Media. Marys gradual disappearance as a character reflect s an outdated literary technology that has lost its identity. Patchwork Girl is read, then, as a literary ghost inhabiting a computational machine: the persistence and resurr ection of literary discourse in Jacksons text sugg ests that it is haunted by the silent ghost of Mary Shelley. Literatu re emerges as an encrypted body that has

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144 disappeared, and whose decaying corpse is rewritte n into hypertext as the meaningless signifier of a past that has disappeared completely. Moving from the critical discourse surrounding Mary Shelley to the appearance of Mary in a preeminent text of New Media studies, this chapter argues that Jacksons hypert ext reveals the symptom of Marys literary encryption. Mary Shelley in the Age of Cryptic Reproduction The Nove mber 30, 1889, edition of The Academy included a review of Julian Marshalls Life and Letters of Mary Shelley one of the first texts to address the topic of Marys life after the death of her husband. The reviewer notes the or iginality of Marshalls text, which focused primarily on Mary and not Percy or Byron. Th e biography also, however, draws a picture of Marys life that is dark and gloomy. Her story is from first to last unrelievedly painful; and the picture is one of somber gloom only broken by lurid lights which serve to render the dark ness more impressive. The central figure is certainly one of winning beauty; bu t it is always seen either in deep shadow or in fitful illumination of these ghastly gleams, and Mary Shelley is encircled by a rabble rout, who seem more like shapes in some phant asmagoria of nightmare than like men and women of the ever y-day waking world. Mary is pictured as haunted by th e spectral traces of those close to her who, now dead, haunt her waking hours. The attitude is reflected in Mary Shelleys one printed obituary, written in the February 15, 1851, edition of the Athenaeum in which the author portray s Marys descriptions of the world as unreal in the excess of their sadness (LMWS 397).36 Like the review of Marshalls text, Mary Shelley is thought to have depicted a world that acted as a transparent window into her melancholic life. The dramatic tone of these reviewers is especially interesting when one understands that many of the poets in Marys own circle wr ote frequently about melancholy and several of them suffered from depression. Percy, Claire, Byron, and her mother 36 Betty Bennetts three volume Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley provides this chapter with most of the epistolary material, includes this obituary at the end, an d remains the best edition of Shelleys letters. The text will hereafter be cited with the initials LMWS.

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145 Mary Wollstonecraft all struggled with the disorder, and the poets featured hopeless, even suicidal thoughts in their poetry. Nevertheless, Mary Shelleys work is characterized primarily as the writing of a melancho lic, depressive woman. This narrative of a melancholic Mary Shelley is typical of texts writte n about Shelley in the years following her death. This prejudice contin ues to more recent biographical and academic work. For example, Diane Long Hoevler (2005) read s Mathlida and the M ourner, as instances of Mary Shelleys fictionalization of her own melancholic autobiography. Jacques Khalip (2005) argues that Marys melancholy is a bequeathal of her mothers skepticism aimed at confronting the Romantic periods tendency toward exagge rating ones importance. Claire Raymond (2006) suggests that Marys melancholic voice in her novels prefigures and revises her subservient position in the canonization of Romantic poetry.37 Melancholy proves to be a powerfully seductive trope for Shelley critics. Esther Schors introduction to the Cambridge Companion to Mary Shelley (2003) attempts a compromise with the argument that Mary Shelley lived both a life of loneliness and a life of companionship. Howe ver, the image of the lonely writer deserted by her companions and dying without the fame of her more noted friends remains a powerful one. I argue that accounts of Marys life charac terize her as a melancholic by linking her interest in writing with her experiences of wa tching loved ones die. A combination of journal entries, letters, and fiction create a cryptic picture of a Mary Shelley who is fundamentally obsessed with death. The interaction between the three sources creates a cryptic circuit between literary text, biography, and critic ism whose contents in Paul de Mans words, monumentalize 37 See Diane Long Hoevers Screen Memories and Fictionalized Autobiography in Mary Shelleys Mathilda and The Mourner, Jacques Khalips A Disappearance in the World: Mary Wollstonecraft and Melancholy Skepticism, and Claire Raymonds The Posthumous Voice in Womens Writing from Mary Shelley to Sylvia Plath

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146 Mary Shelleys literary character.38 My interest in this secti on is to explore the literary encryption of Mary Shelley by analyzing this ci rcuit. Melancholy, as a trope moving through the cryptic circuit, appeals to her life as a single narrative of death and depression. While chapter 1 looked at the attempt to articula te William Blakes physical body as a site of connection between the academic reader and writer, it is the melancho lic character that provides this connection for readers of Mary Shelleys texts. Critics and biogr aphers use the emotional intensity of Shelleys fiction to construct her historic al biography. Furthermore, the literary elements embedded in the discussion of Marys melancholy are made to re flect the connection betw een reading and death developed in Frankenstein I argue that the trope of melanc holy creates a literary crypt as a single, identifiable corpse focused around Marys personality and acts to manifest the spectral trace of the author by fixing her nov els as reactions to historical trauma. The analysis of a real historical Mary Shelley who wrote novels to work through her melancholy is a product of a crossing between textual ruins aimed at constructing a figure with an internal personality that can now be managed and dominated by critical discourse. Marys novel Frankenstein (1818) provides a literary blueprint to the melancholy described as an essential part of her personality.39 The text connects writing and literature with death and mourning, and suggests that melancholy begins with an unnatural attachment to books. Frankenstein s narrative includes episodes of death in the literary ed ucation of Victor 38 See Paul de Mans essay Shelley Disfigured, where he argues that what we have done with the dead Shelley, and with all the other dead bodies that appear in romantic literature [] is simply to bury them, to bury them in their own texts made into epitaphs and monumental graves (121). De Man is talking about Percy Shelley rather than Mary Shelley, but I suggest the idea applies equally (if not more) to the latter. 39 This chapter uses the 1818 edition of Frankenstein While Nora Crook has argued that the 1831 edition of Frankenstein is not less politically radical than the 1818 and carries many of the same thematic concerns, my reason for the preference surrounds the inclusion in the 1831 editio n of the theme surrounding the overtaking of Gods position by science. Since I am more interested in the re lationship between Victors education and melancholy, I am not as interested in the more theistic language of th e 1831 edition. See Nora Crooks In Defense of the 1831 Frankenstein for her approach to the latter edition of the novel.

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147 Frankenstein and Robert Walton. Shelleys novel, in this sense, provides an analysis of death that is primarily literary. It argues that the discovery of literature is, itself, a dark precursor to isolation, the neglect of the family, and finally the end of life. Robert Waltons narrative in the novel parallels the bur ial of the dead with the discovery of books. While Walton is self-educate d, a practice that he suggests alienates other people, his desire to become a sailor is fulfilled only by igno ring the wishes of his father and embracing the fantasies inspired by reading his uncles coll ection of sailing books. On his deathbed, Waltons father forces his uncle to keep Walton away from the sailing industry. Death in Waltons narrative occurs as a block to the fulfillment of desire. Reading is seen as the action that causes Walton to ignore the wishes of his father a nd leave his family. Walt on reveals that this absorption in books causes most people to despis e him as romantic (53). Reading, in this way, causes Walton to ignore his dead fathers me mory, take up sailing, and leave his family. As a practice, then, reading leads to a narcissism that distracts the sailor fr om his call to mourn the dead and, instead, forces him to embrace isolation. Victors early memories are li kewise punctuated with death a nd isolation. The first portion of the narrative focuses on Victor s introduction to reading and e ducation as relatively free of consequence. His studies were never forced; and by some means we always had an end placed in view, which excited us to ardor in the prosec ution of them (66). Shel leys Miltonic allegory of education figures as Victors tempter the work of Cornelius Agrippa, a text that promises the resurrection of the dead, and fo cuses Victors interest in the conquering of death and disease. The literary narrative here introduces a tens ion between new and outdated knowledge whose misrecognition leads Victor to his failure. As he introduces the text to hi s father, the response is not enthusiastic. Victors father looked careles sly at the title-page of my book and said, Ah!

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148 Cornelius Agrippa! My dear Vi ctor, do not waste your time upon this; it is sad trash (68). Victors father distinguishes be tween books that are essential to the education of the individual and those that are a waste of time. The latter impacts Victor far more negatively than the former. The scientist suggests that had his father perfor med his duty to direct hi s attention to useful knowledge [] the train of my ideas would never ha ve received the fatal impulse that led to my ruin (68). The narrative transforms intell ectual nourishment, which is acquired by the consumption of useful books, into a poison brought by wasteful books that brings only death and ruin. The death of Victors mother provides materi al evidence for Victors presumption that his acquaintance with the texts of Agrippa, and the dark desires for resurrection they inspire, transform life into decay. Victor calls the event a n omen, as it were, of my future misery, and reads the death of his mother as an interruption of the beginning of his University education (71). He sees the interruption as a warning against pr oceeding with the path la id out by the books he read as a younger child. The death scene of Victors mother acts as a repetition of the death of Waltons father, providing a contrast between the two characters. While both stories recall an interruption to reading and a suggestion that d eath accompanies the practice of reading, the death of Victors mother inspires mela ncholy. It is this melancholy that serves as the pre-text of the monsters birth. Victors mother is encountered in a dream he has before first seeing the monster. In the dream, he kisses the image of Elizabeth who changes into his mothers corpse: a shroud enveloped her form, and I saw the graveworms cr awling into the folds of the flannel (85). Victors fiance becomes his mothers corpse, whic h then dissolves into a monster. By reading, Victor both characterizes the monster as a horri fic collection of occult so urces and embeds these

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149 sources within the corpse of his mother. The haunting of the moth er has been transformed into a material creature that embodies Victors loss. Both of these early episodes in Frankenstein articulate a theory of melancholy that sees the condition as an effect of read ing. Waltons story depicts readi ng as forcing him to ignore the wishes of his father and causing him to live most days in isolation. Victors story connects reading with a dark desire leading him, he fear s, to desecrate the memory of his mother. The book in Frankenstein acts to rewrite the destinies and th e personalities of he r characters. It, furthermore, tempts these characters from their families: Walton leaves his sister to go on ocean voyages in the Artic, while Victor leaves his family to create his monster. Frankenstein depicts reading as an exercise in deat h and isolation and the book as a da rk power inspiring melancholic reflection. The ghostly power of the books impact on Victors life is enclos ed in the monsters physical body. As a material coll ection of corrupted and decaye d bodies, the monster encloses this loss into his body as a physical obj ect that can be sc orned and destroyed. The connection between death and writing provides a fundamental trope for the construction of Mary Shelleys encrypted corpse. If, as Fred Botting suggests, Frankenstein reflects the narcissistic desires of criticism, then I would add that the novel also provides criticism with a means to reconstruct Mary Shelley as a figure of melancholy.40 This novel, along with others in Marys cor pus, is appropriated to place mela ncholy at the center of Shelleys biography. Victors melancholy is said to reflect Marys mela ncholy. Biographical accounts of Marys life conflate biography with literature, and criticis m with history, to create the membrane for Mary Shelley as a literary crypt. These accounts reflect the concerns of the novel by presenting a figure that is, like Vi ctor and Walton, concerned with the intersections of literature, 40 Botting argues that [c]riticism [] finds, and lo ses, itself among the broken narrative frames of Frankenstein (17).

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150 writing, and death. The widespread interest in the many deaths circulating around Marys life sketches a picture of a life consumed by mourni ng the deaths of others. The construction of her literary identity uses melancholy to suggest a co nnection between Marys inner thoughts and the critic who is able to access them This identity, in turn, enable s literary and academic culture to appropriate Mary Shelleys melanc holy as part of a larger discourse of history, and authorial and disciplinary identity. Critical and biographical accounts of Marys melancholy move from sources outlining the uncanny encounters with death experienced by Mary Shelley to a biographical narrative dominated by the melancholic indulgences of its authors. Accounts of Mary Shelleys melancholy, I argue, appropriate fiction to heighten the literary e ffect of depression. As many of these authors have suggested, Marys encounters with death began with her birth. Mary Wollstonecraft died giving birth to the child. Th e death was brought on by an incident involving Wollstonecrafts inability to eject the placenta. Marie Mulvey-Roberts argues that this creates a horrific portrait of Marys birth: the object used to nourish Mary is seen as the instrument of her mothers death (198). Yet according to Wollston ecrafts midwife, it is a prejudice common amongst many women, that they must be in great da nger as long as the after-birth remains in the womb; and for this reason, the expulsion is seldom left to nature (qtd. in St. Clair 177). The common parlance that links the words placenta with afterbirth invokes an object that is at first used to nourish the child a nd then if not properly ejected threatens the mother with death. The afterbirth becomes the site of superstition about death, and the womb is made into Wollstonecrafts internal crypt. Godwins hasty decision to remove the placen ta reflected this supe rstition and was also used to heighten to gothic flavor of the s cene. Wollstonecraft was not allowed to feed her

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151 daughter due to fears that her m ilk was poisoned. Her entire body reflects the death that is seen growing in her body. Godwin calls upon a doctor who removes Wollstonecrafts placenta in pieces, but does so without sterilizing his in struments. As Janet Todd recounts, Godwin recorded the time in his journal, then drew three wordless line s (495). The wordless lines in Godwins journal marks an empty time, a blank nothing narrating an event thatlike the womb and the placentais transformed into a empty signi fier of death. Shelley s birth, emerging as it does from the death of Wollstonecraf t, translates afterbirth into death, womb into crypt, and the narrative recalling Godwins life into a blank nothing. Despite the lack of evidence outlining Ma rys relationship to her mother, most biographical work continues to emphasize the deat h of her mother by the daughter and speculate on its impact to the early development of Ma ry Shelleys personality. Biographical accounts emphasize the horrific nature of the event by suggesting the uncanny polarity between the experiences of the two Marys. Miranda Seymour, for example, titles the chapter describing Mary Shelleys birth as a birth and a d eath. Seymour suggests that it is hard to be sure at what point and to what degree Mary felt that her own birth had robbed this beautiful, vital woman of her lifeher mo ther was only thirty-eight when she died. Frankensteins creation of a child he perceives as abhorrent may tell us something dark and troubling about Marys vi ew of herself. (33) The biography turns to Marys tale of resurre ction as a means to understand the dark thoughts that may or may not have occurred to the author She also suggests that the story of Victors anger toward his creature might function as a li terary reflection of anxieties about her mother. The death of Victors mother from scarlet fever reflects the death of Ma rys mother from her own infectious fever. Seymour concludes that Mary may well have blamed herself for the puerperal (infectious) fever of which Mary Wollst onecraft died (34). The melancholic effect of Marys fiction is constructed as a telepath ic connection to her innermost thoughts. While

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152 Seymours biography attempts to explain Marys melancholy, it reveals the use of fiction to create a desire for access to th e thoughts of the dead. Melancho ly emerges as an effect of reading, rather than an inner psychol ogical condition that reading can unlock. The birth scene forecasts Marys melancholy by marking her life with the stain of death. The slippage between birth and death remains a constant throughout Marys life. She is born from the two crypts of her parents: the physic al crypt of Wollstonecrafts death-inducing afterbirth and the written crypt of Godwins bl ank journal diary. The te nsion between these two crypts impacts Marys education. As several of the biographers recal l in their texts, Mary learned her letters by tracing on her mo thers grave and a proud Godwin would frequently introduce her in parties as a Mary Wollstonecr aft in the making (Seymour 44). Once seen as the death of her mother, Marys literary education has transfor med her into the ghostly remnant of her mother. The meditation on physical and bodily death is, furthermore, reflected in critical accounts of Marys development as a writer. Julie Carson has argued that Marys persona stems from the largely custodial position she take s with regard to dead writers (211). For Carson, this custodial position reveals itself most clearly in Marys later novels and in her biographical worka point Susan Wolfson echoes in her study of Marys role as the editor of Perc ys poetry, [a]cross her volumes, she emerges as a uniquely privileged mediator, the intimate who is the poets ideal, best reader (193). Mary s desire to edit her husbands work becomes, for Wolfson, a means for the author to prove her worthiness and suggests th at she had still not overcome her propensity for melancholy. Marys status as a writer, moreove r, is seen depending upon her intimacy with the dead and her ability to take the remains of th e past, mediate them to a public living in the present, and provide a proper place for their pres ervation. In a letter to Frances Wright in 1824, Mary says that the memory of Wo llstonecraft reminds her that I ough t to degenerate as little as I

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153 [can] from those from whom I derived my being (LMWS II; 4). Marys stat us as a custodian of the dead, then, extends to her physical and mental being and situates her identity as a relay station with the afterlife. Her interest in writing, furthermor e, connects with her obsessions about death. The connections between Mary Shelley, death, a nd writing are applied to an analysis of the melancholic aspects of her fiction, which are se en reflecting the events of her life. Diary accounts of these deaths emphasize the disconnecti on Mary feels to the world around her. This disconnection provides biographies and critical st udies with the material to continue their arguments suggesting Marys melancholy. The comb ined deaths of her two children (Clara in September 1818; William six months later in June 1819) reverse the traumatic event of her birth. Now, instead of being the product of a woman on the verge of deat h, Mary gives bi rth to children who die. She is seen as both the daughter and the mother of death. While Claras death is marked only by a brief entry in her journal in Septem ber 1818, which describes their hurried trip to Venice with Clara,Williams is enveloped in a much longer letter to Marianne Hunt in which the mother complains that her son changed quickly from having a fine colourwonderful spirits to breed[ing] worms (LMWS I; 102). The immediacy of both deaths causes Mary to experience long periods of depression, in which sh e is separated from the world around her. She writes to Leigh Hunt on September 24 that the vivi dness of life has fled from the world and that I can assure you I am much changedthe world will never be to me again as it wasthere was a life & freshness in it that is lost to meon my last birthday when I was 21I repined that time should fly so quickly and that I should grow ol der so quicklythis birthdaynow I am 22although the time since the last seems to have flown with the speed of lightning yet I re joiced at that & only repined th at I was not olderin fact I ought to have died on the 7th of June last. (qtd. in Journals 291) Shelleys letter communicates a profound stillne ss caused by the passing of time. In the context of her letter to Hunt, this takes the form of a profound quickness juxtaposed with the belief that

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154 she should already be dead. These diary entries also, however, suggest th e image of a writer who is struggling with death and noticing the world disconnecting from her. Mary describes the theme of disconn ection from a vivid world in 1844s Rambles in Germany and Italy in 1840, 1842, and 1843 which Betty Bennett reveals is a literary reworking of Marys memory watching Clara die in 1818 (221). Mary notes that it is a strange, but to any person who has suffered, a familiar circumstance, that those who are enduring mental or corporeal agony are strangely alive to immediate external objects, and their imagination even exercises a wild power over them (qtd. in Bennett 221). The experience of death opens Mary to the world of the inanimate, and she hovers between the expiring body of her daughter and the promise of life held together by her imagina tion. Further on down the page, Mary hears the communication of the inanimate th rough a series of memories th at the objects impart upon her: [T]he banks of the Brenta presented to me a moving scene; not a palace, not a tree of which I did not recognize, as marked and recorded, at a moment when life and death hung upon our speedy arrival at Venice (qtd. in Bennett 221). Marys memory reconstructs Claras death in a relay between inert objects that both interact and impress memory upon th e writer. Marys belief that sh e should be dead is coupled with a preternatural affinity with the inert a nd the inanimate. The journal entries suggest a mourning period that is tied to philosophical reflection, characterized by an affinity with the inert object that makes Mary feel aliv e. Marys literary recollecti on of Claras death, on the other hand, suggests the connection between memory and revision. The extended meditation on Claras death is only available to her once she had remembered it some 36 years later. The deaths of Marys children fuse writing to the character of Mary s depression. Criticism invokes the deaths as a means to unlock Marys in ternal thoughts. Emily Sunstein, for example,

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155 sees the writing of Valperga and Mathilda undertaken soon after th e deaths of Clara and William, as part of a self-indu ced program of therapy (188). More radically, Rosaria Champange has suggested that to read Mathilda in any way but an autobiographical meditation on melancholy risks reinforcing patriarchal law: I am not just a little intrigue d that other scholarsboth feminist and politically undeclared oneswho have just read Mathilda conclude everything but th e most obvious observation: that in a suicidal summer, Mary Shelley used Mathilda to concretize the aftereffects of what she experienced. That no cr itic has suggested this is no mere oversight: from a radical psychoanalytic-feminist perspectiv e, the incest taboo has enfor ced critical interpretations of Mathilda that maintain the Fathers law. (57) Reading Marys novel as an al legory of the novelists own melancholy is both obvious and politically progressive for Champange. She, consequently, uses Mathilda and Valperga as fictional performances of Marys psychology. The ex ternal events occurri ng in Shelleys life, derived from her diary entries, are transposed onto a narrative of melancholy that is then connected to the written portion of the novel. Champange analyzes Mathilda as an encrypted code hiding the internal mind of Mary Shelley. In order to unlock that mind, Champange turns to the fiction, which coupled with the diaries describing her str uggles after the death of her children, creates an internal sp ace that is now defined by Mary s disorder. The novel provides a diagnosis for the authors biography; it unlocks th e code separating the critic from a complete and present picture of Marys pe rsonality. Mary Shelleys fiction is appropriated in order to visualize the secret interior of her mind and to better connect with her. These tendencies reach an apotheosis in Louise Di Salvos self-help book Writing as a Way of Healing in which Marys writing of Mathilda is cited as an example of a cure for suicide. Di Salvo describes her book as an invitation to use writing as a wa y of healing, and the text transposes the experience of women as write rs for the authors program (9). A series of readings provide Di Salvo with examples of wo men who were depressed, turned to writing for

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156 help, and whose methods are now cited as a usef ul way to combat depression. Di Salvo connects Champagnes theory with its own narrative detailing Marys str uggle with suicide: In 1819, during a summer of lifethreatening crisis, Mary Shel ley, author of Frankenstein, kept her suicidal urges in check by writing her novel Mathilda. Her young son William had just died. The year before, she had suffe red the death of her daughter Clara. [] Connecting her desire with this hereto fore unexamined, unspoken experience (the possibility of incest in her own past) saved Mary Shelleys life. (171) The use of fiction to embody a depressive stat e in the criticism of Sunstein and Champagne is now abstracted as a method to combat depr ession. Mary Shelleys depression and the writing associated with that depression are encrypted, seal ed, and made available to be exported to other people suffering from what is seen as a similar disorder. The cryptic circuit around Mary Shelley moves from fiction, to biography, to academic critic ism, and finally to the genre of the self-help book. Shelleys literary crypt is transformed into a commodified pharmaceutical prescribed to depressive readers. The capsule cont ains both what is seen as a hist orical depressive state that led to the creation of fiction and the cure contained within that fiction. Di Salvos story translates Victors fear that reading can be poisonous and destructive to an environment where that poison can rehabilitate melancholic depressives and become a cure. Mary Shelleys literary crypt appropriates fic tion to fill gaps in Marys more traditional textual remains: journals, travel writing, and lett ers. The connections between these sources form her body as a space preserved by its connection to her fiction. The cryptic body of Mary Shelley allows criticism to use fiction to construct a channe l within Marys mind, where it can extract evidence of a depressive state and market her cu re to other depressive s. Mary certainly did struggle with loneliness and depression, but the academic market tied to disseminating information about Marys depression uses her wr iting to monumentalize her authorial figure. The diaries, for example, sketch out a picture of depression, yet Marys melancholy is incomplete, ruined, insubstantial. Fiction acts to suppl ement the textual ruins of Marys melancholy,

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157 constructing a figure that can embody the struggle with, and the triumph over, her mental condition. As a disorder wedded to the inner wo rkings of a mourning mind, melancholy forms Marys texts as a cryptsealing off the gaps and the nuances that might otherwise complicate the picture we have of her struggles with loss. New Mediations of the Crypt I have just argued that critical accounts of Mary S helleys melancholy construct her texts as crypts for her inner personality. Now, I will argue that Shelley Jacksons Patchwork Girl symptomizes the memorialization of Mary Shelley, and literary culture in general, by revealing the intersection between the literary encryption of Mary Shelley and the technological preservation of the literary experience. Patchwork Girl was seated in the middle of a hypertextual revolution in English Departments. Called by Robert Coover a harbinger of the golden age of hypertext, Jacksons text was ce lebrated for its formal inventiveness and its willingness to forego linear narrative and celebrate the deferral of meaning (qtd. in Keep). Patchwork Girl was characterized as nothing less than a complete rehabilitation of the literary canon, an embodiment of the poststructuralist iconoc lasm of French theory, and an example of the new possibilities of feminine writing. As such Jacksons text represen ted the culmination of an institutional iconoclasm that dismantled the literary canon a nd constructed texts as selfdiffering objects of play. Yet Patchwork Girl was also described as making computers and hypertext new mediums for literary invention. N. Katherin e Hayles called Jacksons text a useful starting point to explore electronic hypertext as literar y medium. George Landow identified the patchwork girl character as a digital fulfillment [] of twen tieth-century literary and pictoral collages. Christopher Keep suggested that Jackson explor e[s] the literary potentia l of hypertext. The literary dimension of Jacksons work is im portant to much of the praise surrounding Patchwork

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158 Girl Yet none of the articles on Jack sons text explore what literatu re means when transported to the realm of hypertext fiction. If as Hayles suggests, hypertext necessitates the development of new reading strategies, then why continue to use the word literature and literary to describe what Jackson is producing? I argue that the word literary describes Jacksons Patchwork Girl only insofar as the term is meaningless. The terms literature and l iterary function as bla nk signifiers, attempting to prove that hypertext can provide the same loosely defined experi ence as other literary texts. I suggest that this tendency to retrieve the literary in hypertext and other New Media applications functions to create literature as a mela ncholic object of preservation or a crypt. Patchwork Girl reveals this literary encrypti on by depicting the slow disappear ance of Mary from the narrative and charting the reaction of the patchwork girl to this disappearance. Mary Shelley is also, however, made into a mouthpiece for Jacksons rehabilitation of the masculine Romantic ego and her subsequent attempt to fuse postmodern lit erary theory to a Romantic tradition. Jacksons text reveals the consequences of literary encryption and the complicated process of pathologically mourning the dead Romantic celebrity. Hypertext literature developed out of attempts to provide ne w experiences that could not be achieved with print literatu re. Michael Joyce, author of Afternoon: A Story describes his motivation for exploring the possibilities of hypertex t in the 1980s as a de sire to write a novel that would change in successive readings and make those changing vers ions according to the connections that I had for some time naturally discovered (31). Joyce saw hypertext as a means to produce a new literary effect: the shuffling of paragraphs and the creation of a narrative that could be viewed in different sequences. This hypertextual reinvention of literature, however, quickly brought about declarations of the demise of literature. Robert Coover called print

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159 literature dead as God, in the June 2 1992 edition of the New York Times Book Review Jay David Bolter announced the death of prose in Writing Space, but also suggested our culture will want to keep the patient alive, if moribund, so th at the mutual remediation with digital media can continue (56). The dead body of literature, in Bo lters account, is made into the conceptual equivalent of a bad horror film where literary ca nnibals keep the bodies of the old alive only to provide them with sustenance. While these proc lamations proved to be a little premature, New Media nevertheless continues to invoke the meta phors of death to describe the innovation of new programs and the discarding of those rendered obsolete.41 Hypertext, itself, was declared dead by Nick Montfort in his 2000 review Cybertext Kill ed the Hypertext Star where he suggests that hypertexts corpus has been produced. David Ciccoricco begins his book on hypertext, Reading Network Fiction (2007), lamenting that Montforts review and Coovers essay Literary Hypertext: The Passing of the Golden Age bot h appeared while he was researching the book. All of these deaths, I argue, figure New Media as a critical discourse mired in melancholy, and this melancholy reflects an inability to fully or finally conjure away its literary ghosts. The so-called death of hypertext and it s failure to replace the canon of print literature have created a void in the heart of lite rary studies punctuated by a literary aura that has no material object. Jacksons Patchwork Girl reflects these issues no t only due to its status as an exemplar of the genre, but also because it invokes the language of death and dying to situate its relationship to literature. Shelley Jackson, furthermore, sees hers elf as the spiritual daughter of Mary Shelley, and combines their names on the title page of the text: by Mary/Shelley & herself. Yet what that shared name means to the question of Jack sons relationship to Mary Shelley remains vague 41 For example, Stuart Moulthrop argued in 1991 that hypertext brought about the end of the death of literature and a reawakening interest in typographic culture. See Moulthrops You Say You Want a Revolution? Hypertext and the Laws of Media.

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160 and unanswered. I argue that Jackso ns text allegorizes Mary Shelle y as a literary crypt tied to the ascendancy of new technologies in English De partments and, as such, must contend with the melancholy associated with the death of older media.42 Patchwork Girl uses the hypertext medium to drama tize the technological preservation of literary experience. The text imagines the resurr ection of literature by referring to the bodily resurrection of the patchwork girl : a creature formed in Jackson s text by the writing and the stitching of Mary Shelley. The patchwork girls body alludes to Shelleys monster in her novel Frankenstein Both are formed from the parts of other bodies. Jacksons patchwork girl, however, extends the concept of the monster metaphor into a larger meditation on literary writing. While the monster depicted in Shelleys Frankenstein is made of corporeal body parts, Jacksons patchwork girl is also composed of computer code and writte n text. [A]ll bodies are written bodies, Jackson argues by citing Hl ne Cixous, all lives pieces of writing (all written).43 The patchwork girls body is simultaneously corporeal and textual, and the allusions to the connections between writing and the body suggest that the wr itten set of screens comprising the Patchwork Girl program enacts the body of its main character. Jacksons text, in this way, does not merely represent a character, it reveals the act of reading as a corporeal experience in which putting together a set of screen s performs the task of stitching together and resurrecting the remains of the dead. 42 In an otherwise enlightening study of the melancholic form of hypertext narrative, David Punday suggests that Jacksons text disrupts melancholy by celebrating the Frankenstein story and feminine creativity. He argues that the melancholic hypertext traps the reader in a textual stru cture whose effects are inevita ble while the mournful text looks toward the future and challenges the reader to re spond and act (98). The choice here is the same one literary academics have been posing for years: either we are exas perated and filled with dread when confronted with the breakdown of familiar forms of narrative or we become true iconoclasts and approach New Media with affirmation. Pundays essay seeks to purify Jacksons texts, and the ic onoclast position in general, from melancholic tendencies. 43 Parenthetical citations to Patchwork Girl refer to the name of the screen where the quoted material was found.

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161 The link between text and corpse in Jacksons narrative is most easily seen in the first few screens that pop up after loading the program: th e title page, the phrenology image, and the anatomical screen of an unidentif ied girl. The title page recalls as pects of nineteenth-century title pages in general, and Mary Shelleys title page to Frankenstein in particular. At first glance, it may seem counterintuitive to include a title pa ge to a hypertext that extols non-linearity and incompleteness. As Margaret Smith argues, the development of the title page in the sixteenth century protected the unity of the written work by covering copy between the stages of its initial printing and the construction of a hard cover th at would provide furthe r protection. Eventually, title pages gained a label to distinguish one book from another and decorations, frontispieces, and ornamentation for the purposes of advertisin g the book (17-19). The title page advertised a unity it protected, by covering the numerous contents of a book with a single page that characterized the book as a whole, with a title, an author, and a publisher. Jackson invokes the title page as a way to incorpor ate literature into the stylisti c presentation of her hypertext and give it a literary weight. Shelley Jacksons title page lists the ti tle of the text PATCHWORK GIRL, OR A MODERN MONSTER in all caps. The title is centered, placed above the author, and followed by a series of section titles. These sections in clude a graveyard, a journal, a quilt, a story & broken accents ____________(sources). Each section presents or enacts Jacksons patchwork girl in a different way. The journal relays the story of the patchwork girl through a series of entries taking her from the early nineteenth century to the present day. The quilt presents quotations from literary theorists and academic cr itics. The graveyard acts as a series of meditations on death and the body.

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162 Mary Shelleys 1818 title page us es many of the same elements as Jacksons: the title in all-caps, the author, and the publisher. It also includes an epigraph from Miltons Paradise Lost (1667) that reads: Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay / To mould me man? Did I solicit thee / From darkness to promote me? The ep igraph functions in Shelleys novel to place Frankenstein into British literary history, suggest ing an allegorical relationship between Miltons epic and her novel. Shelley Jacksons title page al so has a space for the so urces of the text, but this space is left blank. The blank space suggests that sources do, in fact, exist but are unknown or simply left out. Visually, the blank space bloc ks the allegorical logic of literary citation in which a set of information about a source stands in for the physical presence of the source. Without that information, it is impossible to r econnect with all of the sources that make up Jacksons text. Literature, and the logic of the epig raph that informs literary tradition, is made the lost object of repression and disavowal. Clicking on the word sources brings up an apology for Jacksons appropriation of sources in Patchwork Girl: At certain times in this web I have lapsed w ithout notice into anothers voice, into direct quote or fudged restraint. My subject matter s eemed to call for this very unceremonious appropriation. Those with a stronger sense of personal property may wish to know who is speaking when. (sources) The patchwork section employs screens that both do and do not cite their sources. One screen presents appropriated material wi thout quotes that must be seen before the reader can click to another one that clearly cites the sources. While she may not have a strong sense of personal property, Jackson is still anxious about plagiarism. The disavowal of a literary past is combined with a sensibility that recognizes the necessity of clinging to citation as a literary commonplace that cannot be completely consigned to the grave.

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163 Jacksons second invocation of the connection between text and corpse, the anatomical picture of a woman, functions like a frontispiece acco mpanying the title page (Figure 5-1). If the title page lists the sections of the text and (mor e or less) its sources, the anatomical picture gives a visual representation of how the text functi ons. As Terry Harpold ha s suggested to me, the woman recalls Leonardo da Vincis Vitruvian Man (Figure 5-1). Figure 5-1. Anatomical Woman (her). Whereas da Vincis piece extols vitality, th e anatomical frontispiece looks more like an autopsy. The eyes of the figure are closed and her hair lies disheveled to the side. The various parts of the woman are marked with dotted lines suggesting preparation for an autopsy investigation. The body, despite be ing in stark contrast with the black background, looks pale and lifeless. The phrenology image, Jacksons th ird screen, portrays a head that is quite obviously alive, yet the image itself recalls out dated science and outdated technology. The title page, autopsy, and phrenology images present three deaths that elegize an d mock the past. The title page links death with writing. The phrenol ogy image links death with technology. These deaths invade the narrative construction of a be ginning to Jacksons text, engraving the authors, sources, and images as sections of some unfinished grave.

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164 Clicking on the various sections of Jacksons text listed on the title page gives us variations of the same image as the anatomical picture, exce pt the sections of the picture are scrambled in different ways and no longer represent a single identifiable body (Figure 5-2). A B Figure 5-2. Scrambled autopsy in A) (hercu t3). B) Another scramble (hercut4). A second click brings up the following message: I am buried here. You can resurrect me, but only piece meal. If you want to see me whole, you will have to sew me together yourself (graveyard). The title page and the frontispieces lead to a message suggesting that to experience the patchwork girl as a complete body, the reader must di g up her parts and stitch them together. Readers are introduced to coded body parts that must be first re surrected, or opened through a series of screens, and then put together to form a totality. Another click reveals the patchwork girls body parts, including a Heat, Trunk, Arms (Right and Left), and Legs (Right and Left) as well as divers Organs appropriately Disposed. May they Rest in Piece (headstone). The headst one screen complicates the textual association with the physical remains of the corpse and the crypt. Clicking on each of the parts opens new windows that describe the lives of the various body parts before they were attached to the patchwork girl. Her head is described as being akin to an ancient vase, her trunk belonged to an

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165 ambitious but passionate dancer named Angela, he r right arm was once attached to a shipyard attendant who threw bottles at vagrants. Each body part is situated inside a narrative screen devoted to its history. Jackson opens her hypertext with metaphors that suggest both materiality as text (the title page physically holds the text together and creates a skin for its contents) and materiality as a dead body (the title page and subsequent screens suggest a head stone that is placed on top of the patchwork gi rls encrypted body parts). Jack son vacillates between these two metaphorical invocations of the body and thus suggests that the literary body is preserved by the act of programming code. Hypertext acts as the language used to resurre ct the patchwork girl. A series of interfaces relay the patchwork girl to the reader who, then, linguistically reconstructs her. Code is translated into pixels displayed as words sugge sting parts of the creatures body. The first few screens simulate Jacksons theory of bodily materiality and her attitude toward the literary past. This past is a disordered, bla nk, and encrypted set of parts whos e meaning and cohesion must be deciphered by a computer program and ordered by a reader. The CD-Rom containing Jacksons hypertext acts, in this way, as the material embodiment of the patchwork girls body and the program acts as an identity that can be accessed if one has the proper tools. Getting to the text of the patchwork girl involves navigating technologi cal as well as legal limitations blocking the resurrection of her body. Only thos e who are able to load the CD -Rom program onto a computer capable of decoding its contents a nd displaying the pixels on a screen can access the text at all. I have a Macintosh iBook G4 and could not ini tially load the program because my operating system (OS X 10.4.11) is too advanced. In order to view Patchwork Girl on a Macintosh Computer, I was told to download a version of Mac Classic 9.0. The body of the patchwork girl was already lost to my Macint osh computer, whose operating system could not read the code

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166 inscribed on the programs CD. Furthermore, the viewing of the patchwork girls body is regulated by copyright. While ther e are no safeguards in the program that enforce this rule, the program cannot function without in serting the CD-Rom in to the computer. Copyright protections and the boundaries of technological compatibility form a division betwee n a material CD-Rom whose contents are unavailable a nd textual contents that must s till be stitched back together. Patchwork Girls parts are available only to those w ho have the technological means, the legal right, and the linguistic ability to access the program. The preservation of the literary, in this sense, is obscured by the physical propertie s of the CD-Rom as an object. The body itself becomes the crypt both protecting and blocking th e literary experience. As Richard Doyle has shown in his study of the discour se surrounding cryonics patients, encryption refers to both the psychological process of incorporation and the coding of a message to obscure its contents. Cryonics involves the freezing of a body that is near death with the hope that, some day, technology will be invented to revi ve the patient and cure his or her disorder. Doyle points out that many considering cryonic therapy are an xious over whether the body and mind can be preserved over long periods of time: [F]or many cryonicists, apprehension about the st ability of archival media over time is in some sense a discussion about the possibility of revival in the future; the very operations that disturb the possibility of an archivedecay, the sheer difference of the future (will they have CD players?!), fire (At least whil e you are animate a personal refrigerator is helpful in many ways. [CryoNet, message 5591]) also threaten cryonic bodies. (71) While patients are worried about the possibility of being physically revived in a future that has the technology to repair the damage inflicted by the freezing process, they are also concerned about the preservation of their identity. Sh elley Jackson seems less anxious about the preservation of identity. Yet the ambivalence of Patchwork Girl towards literary property, along with the limitation of the hypertext to the physical object of th e CD-Rom, threaten to seal Mary Shelley forever inside the tomb of outdated technology. Mary Shelley is neither alive nor dead in

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167 Jacksons narrative but is preserved in a living-dead state, buried alive by the very thing that promises the preservation of her memory. Jacksons narrative incorporates Mary Shelle y as (in Derridas wo rds) a living dead, a dead entity we are perfectly willi ng to keep alive, but as dead, one we are willing to keep as long as we keep it within us, intact in any way sa ve as living (xxi). Jackson memorializes Mary Shelley as an undead Romantic author in the narrative of Patchwork Girl by continually alluding to her work while simultaneously alienating her character from the historical figure named Mary Shelley. The journal section begins with a series of scenes written in Marys perspective that recall Victors telling of the Frankenstein stor y to Walton. In both, the creators have an eerie experience that prophesizes the first encounter w ith their respective creatures. Victor, as I mentioned in the first section, has a dream wher e his fiance turns into his dead mother. He awakens to see the monster standing before him, a walking manifestation of his darkest fears and desires. Mary, in Jacksons text, walks on a road right before meeting her monster and views a sun whose light is distributed in-between patches of grey and yellow. The sun played fitfully in the upper reaches of the cloud bank that hung overhead. There, through threadbare patches in the counterpane of gr ay that hung over the landscape, I could see its invalid fingers despondently toying with t hose vaporous growths and monstrous births. (my walk) The play of color and patchwork is invoked agai n when Mary describes the singular beauty of the monster. She compares the beauty of her different hues to the colors of autumn, suggesting that such a beauty cannot come from one color alone: I believe it is because the myriad differing hue s, while tending toward the self-same yellow one can achieve with the broth of tumeric, say, or onion skins, creates a disturbance of other colors around a root color: a penumbra, a kind of three-dimensionality of color. (she stood) As many readers of Shelleys Frankenstein know, the color yellow pl ays a central role in communicating the horror of the novel. The 1831 introduction descri bes the creature Mary sees

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168 in her dream as having yellow, watery, but speculative eyes (357). Victor describes the monster as having a dull yellow eye and yel low skin that scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath ( 85). And when he first discover s that the monster has killed Elizabeth, Victor sees the monster framed by the dim and yellow light of the moon (85). Marys world in Jacksons text is saturated with yellow, which is gradually celebrated as a color of beauty. The cancerous metaphors in my walk are transformed into those invoking a more delicate, almost autumnal death in she stood where the dullness of the yellow is offset by its penumbra effect. The softening of the description here is typical of Jack sons transformation of Mary from someone who is frightened by the patchwork girl and her strange behaviors to someone who accepts and even delights in them. Jackson rehabilitates Mary Shelley by making her into a mo re tolerant character willing to venture into realms of sympathy and love that Shelleys character Victor was never able to. She is also afforded an aesthetic reason for her tolerant attitude The suggestion of a light giving birth to monsters in my walk is made into a source of beauty in she stood. Mary is more aesthetically sensitive than her scientist protagonis t and more maternal, and as such she is able to pick out beauty from what is seemingly horrifying and ghastly. She welcomes the changes the patchwork girl provokes in her wh en she argues that the creatu re does not resemble me and then quickly adds, I begin to wonder if I rese mble myself (appetite). Mary does not resemble herself, and this is the centra l point of Jacksons rehabilitatio n: to create a postmodern Mary Shelley that is both familiar and different. Jackso n archives Mary Shelley with her text, but does so in a way that changes Mary completely. Mary Shelley becomes a composite signifier in Jacksons text, referri ng to an author of Patchwork Girl, a character in the journal section, a sliver of flesh in the patchwork girls body,

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169 and the source of historical documents used in th e writing of Jacksons hypertext. As the story progresses, Mary Shelley gradually resembles he rself less and less, until she resembles nothing at all. The text begins in Marys point of view then switches to that of th e patchwork girl. This process begins when Mary, responding to the imma nent departure of her creature to America, cuts off part of her flesh and gives it to the pa tchwork girl as a parting gift. The shift in voice marks Marys slow disappearance from the narrative, and the loss of her centrality as a character. Yet the patchwork girl promises to remember Ma ry by identifying hersel f with the author: I remember when I was Mary, and how I loved a m onster, and became one. I bring you my story, which is ours (us). As she ventures to America, the patchwork girl ingests a sliver of flesh taken from Marys leg: Mary shrank, and I took her in, I became her re pository. It bloated me, the responsibility of carrying that life. For a time I couldnt be much more than a kind of shell for it, drawn on by it, using my resources more to keep it fat and thriving than for my own affairs. Only with time (it was more than nine months) w ould the parent manikin shrink back down to the size of an embryo. Then I could be gin to reabsorb her. (Aftermath) As a metaphor of psychological in corporation, the scene characteri zes the larger struggle over Jacksons ambivalence concerning l iterary tradition. The patchwork gi rl is depicted in a struggle with her literary past over the proper way to inco rporate her creator. Mary Shelley is ingested and entombed inside her creature. The screen desc ribes this incorporation as a struggle. Initially, the patchwork girl is overcome by Marys aut hority and bloated by her body. After a period of mourning, the creature is finally able to overcome her memory and reabsorb her. The creation of the creatures individuality occurs soon after in a series of scr eens where the patchwork girl buys a dress, starts writing an aut obiography, and borrows a name and a past from someone called Elsie. The individuality of the creature is maintained by silencing Marys voice, asserting a unique and individual personality, and adopting a name.

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170 Allusions to Mary appear three more times in Patchwork Girl All three reference the question of preservation, whether Mary remains Mary after becomi ng part of the patchwork girl. In one, the patchwork girl wonders how much of Marys personality resonates in her writing, whether her voice will make Marys more authen tic or whether the patchwork girls crude strength and techy bent are better filters for her [Marys] voice than her still polite manners (am I mary). The creature believes that her body can make a better Mary unencumbered by the politeness that kept the author from a more ra dical tinge to her voice. Again, we are presented with a desire to change and rehabilitate a Mary that is seen as archaic, part of a polite past whose manners are incompatible with the full blosso ming of Marys vision. Mary is remembered through the destruction of he r body and the belief that her voice can resound even more authentically in the body of the patchwork girl. This struggle is characterized as a question of writing later on in the same screen, where the pa tchwork girl ponders, Mary writes, I write, we write, but who is really writing? Ghost writers are the only kind there are (am I mary). What began as a question based around a belief in the preservation and enhancement of Marys voice becomes a suggestion that Mary was entirely abso rbed by the patchwork girl. As a ghost writer, Mary becomes merely another spectral force in habiting the always shif ting body of her creature. She is preserved as dead and referred to by the patchwork girl as a ghost who remains present in her absence. A second allusion to Mary occurs when the patc hwork girl attempts to conjure up her voice from the many residing in the creatures head. She calls out to Mary in the hope of hearing her, but is confronted with a cacophony of whispers none of which sound like Mary. On the next screen, the patchwork girl takes up a quill and trie s to get Mary to write to her. Again, nothing happens. Mary is characterized as an absent voice and a mute substance. She is physically

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171 present but does not respond to the creatures call for a living voice. Jackson reinforces this dead, mute aspect of Mary Shelley on the M/S scr een, which is completely blank and reduces the authorial name to its initials (Figure 5-4). The screen manifests the nothingne ss that preserves Marys tra ce in the narrative as a blank placeholder of a literary past. As the patchwork gi rl moves to America, Mary remains as a blank nothing standing in the place of text that might otherwise move forward the patchwork girls story, a cryptic blank screen whose presence literally stops the narrative. Mary Shelley returns as M/S: a screen with no words, a crypt with no corpse (Figure 5-3). Figure 5-3. Inside the Crypt with (M/S). A final allusion occurs in the graveyard section as a coda to a series of screens where the patchwork girl attempts to catalogue all of her parts. As she identif ies the names of her parts, the patchwork girl begins to fall ap art. She calls out to Mary, Mar y I know you want me back, but I shall be no more than a heap of letters, sender unknown, when I retu rn. The truth is we are all fed on embryos (mementos). The allusion to embryos follows a discussion Jackson undertakes in another part of the graveyard section surrounding Aquinass theo ry of bodily resurrection. As Fernando Vidal has shown, the medieval conception of resurrection involv ed the perfection of

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172 the body against its earthly decay. Medieval scholars insisted that the body must be resurrected for the soul to achieve beatitude (931-3). Eate n human remains would be resurrected, as Jackson recounts, with the non-human s ubstance ingested by cannibals dur ing their life. Aquinas, though, counters this theory of resurrec tion with the example of the case of a man who ate only human embryos who generated a child who ate only human embryos (eaten). The matter of the child would never be resurrected because all of its body comes from somewhere else: either from the substance given by its father or the substan ce given by the embryos it ate. Substantiated by corpses not its own, the cannibal ch ild would disappear in the resu rrection of the corpses it used to sustain its body. Ingestion and incorporation, once see as acts of preservation against death, are turned into agents of annihi lation and literary culture is rev ealed as a tradition sustained by cannibalismunable to resurrec t its now absent corpse. As a literary crypt, Shelley Jacksons Patchwork Girl allegorizes the many deaths and acts of institutional cannibalism occurring in New Media studies. The fading corpse of literature is turned into a blank signifier called the literar y, and used to preserve an intellectual experience against annihilation. Despite an attempt to preserve the litera ry author and show a history moving print literature to literary hypertext, Jacksons text also charts the gradual disappearance and annihilation of the literary corpse as a dire ct consequence of hypert ext. The literary crypt designed to protect literatu re from destruction has become the agent of its undoing. Outdated Shelley This chapter has argued that acad emic critics construct Marys melancholic personality as a literary crypt. This crypt is, then, appropria ted by Shelley Jackson to show how these same critics look to New Media technology to preserve a literary experien ce that has lost its definition. In what follows, I will explore what happens when Frankenstein no longer signifies a piece of literature, and New Media studies removes all traces of the literary from its object of criticism.

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173 Matthew Kirschenbaum, a theorist identified as a major proponent of moving New Media away from literary studies and toward an emphasis on the history of computation, invokes Shelleys novel in Mechanisms (2007) as an example of what he calls formal materi ality: a symbolic process that invokes an illusion of [] immateri al behavior (11). In the case of Shelleys novel, the essential presence of Fr ankenstein is based on a partic ular collection of letters and sentences. He argues, a c opy of Mary Shelleys novel Frankenstein is a perfectly valid way of experiencing a work (you dont have to go to the Bodleian Library in Oxford and sit down with the holograph manuscript to legi timately claim to have read Frankenstein) (134). For Kirschenbaum, the materiality of Frankenstein depends on a set of signifiers whose coexistence invokes the same experience. This experience gives the simulation of an immaterial imaginative sequence that can be replicat ed by anyone else that reads the same group of characters. Using Frankenstein as an example of formal literary materiality is quite ironic considering the novels complicated reception history. The sheer ubiquity of the popular image of the monster, its face plastered on cl assic movie posters, comic books, toys, and cereal boxes make it nearly impossible to read Shelle ys novel without at least moment arily imagining Boris Karloffs giant brow and Colin Clives frenzied nasal voic e screaming Its alive! Susan Tyler Hitchcock, in her book Frankenstein: A Cultural History reacted to this confus ion by reserving the italic form of the letters for the novel and the unitaliciz ed form when referring to the myth (11). The words and sentences collected under the title Fra nkenstein require the interruption of italics to secure its formal separation from the informal materiality of the monsters appearances in other mediums. While the formal materiality of Frankenstein preserves the illusion of the same narrative experience, the informal materiality of Frankenstein threatens to dissolve that experience under the weight of adaptati ons, allusions, and cheap appropriations.

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174 It is possible to imagine a time when Mary Shelleys name disappears from memory, all copies of her book are destroyed, and yet Frankens teins informal materi ality still perseveres. The image of a monster that once read Milton in order to prove its humanity and now basks in the light of popular culture and film reflects the marginalization of the academic who now has no job to perform and no text to preserve. The quest ion of literary preservation has been replaced by that of simply keeping up with the perpetua lly accelerating mutations of the monsters many appearances. As Avital Ronnell argu es, it is the monsters ability to disconnect from mourning that gives it power over its creator. The monster knows that it was created to sing the lament of mourning, to teach the necessity of hanging up, which the professors with their self-willed striving could not effect (195). While the professor m ourns a field of cultural history that is both expanding and disappearing rapidly, the monster disconnects completely from the melancholy circuit that defines the memorialization of the Romantic celebrity. S. E. Barnetts installation Mary Shelle ys Daughter (1999) provi des a powerful allegory of this disconnection. The instal lation features used television sets taken from trash dumpsters and discarded VCRs with cables strewn about th e room to, in Barnetts words, favor technology as a means of stripping bare external superfic ialities. Barnetts installation ends up calling attention to outdated technology as revealing the essential vuln erability of his monsters body. The television sets each displa y one portion of a womans body: th e top set displays her head, another set her abdomen, yet another her ar m, and another her legs respectively. The body of the monster depends upon the consta nt supply of electricity and the working condition of her parts to remain alive. These elements, in turn, depend upon human observers who are willing to maintain the installation. At some point, people will lose interest and the gallery will chose a new installa tion. The television sets will be turned off, and the technology

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175 now seen as useless will again be placed in the trash. Imagine the discarded sets deteriorating in a landfill, unplugged from the VCRs and the tape s that held the images of the body, the cathode ray tubes which broadcasted the images shat tered and filled with decaying food, paper and excrement. Imagine all copies of the VCR tapes likew ise trashed, the images of the womans body parts stained with an unidentifiable mixture of red wine, milk, and vomit. The monster has been completely disconnected with the instruments us ed to mediate our perception, and now exists merely as a group of informal, obscured signifie rs on a role of film covered from any human contact. Memory of the exhibit is limited to a small photograph ta ken by the artist, placed on his website and viewed by a graduate student to use in the coda of his last dissertation chapter. Marys literary crypt, designed to ensure her readiness to the academics consumption is contrasted with a very literal cr ypt in which the material parts of the installations body rot. The remains of Romantic celebrity exist here, in th e trash heap, as much as they exist in the manuscripts handled carefully in University li braries, the books resting on the shelves of admirers, or even the cheaply produced YouTube videos featuring Romantic poems. And yet this very image, the trash that is not mourned, hardly finds itself the focus of cr iticism or the figure of theoretical reflection. In this academic blindspot, the trash of Romantic ce lebrity escapes academic attention because it is outdated, decay ed, pungent, and useless. The figure of trash provides an image of a monsterous and absolu te disconnection with literary mourning, as academics focus their memorial activities elsewh ere and the remains of celebrity no longer look similar enough to the Romantic figure to inspire interest.

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176 CHAPTER 6 AFTERWORD If he loves justice, at least, the scho lar of the future, the int ellectual of tomorrow should learn it and from the ghost. He should learn to live by learni ng not how to make conversation with the ghost but how to talk with him, with her, how to let them speak or how to give them back speech, even if it is in oneself, in the other, in the other in oneself: they are always there, specters, even if they do not exist, there as soon as we open our mouth and especially when one spea ks there in a foreign language. --Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx What remains of the Romantic author? If th e leftover parts of Mary Shelley are both traveling with her multi-media monster througho ut its mutating appropriations and decaying quietly in some trash heap, how should we address or attend to the ghosts of her celebrity? I have argued that the depiction of th e Romantic celebritys death in postmodern film and fiction reflects an anxiety about the marg inalization of literary studie s. The texts I have examined attempt to reconnect to fantasy images of auth enticity and immortality embodied in Romantic poetry. Immortality in the discourse of Roman tic celebrity is focused around perpetuating a relationship of familiarity. Mark Edmundson, Stephe n Greenblatt, and Marjorie Perloff see their special connections to the ghost of Romantic celebrity as securing a connection with a spirit they already know. The perpetuation of disciplinary relevance occurs through having conversations with the same ghost over and over again, and doi ng so in the same disciplinary language. The quote from Derrida I have chosen as my ep igraph articulates a very different attitude towards the ghost. Derrida speaks of a multitude of specters that are both, in T. S. Eliots words, intimate and unidentifiable (140). Specters are always there, especially in those foreign spaces inhabiting the most intimate conne ctions between the reader and their literary dead. Derrida mentions the return of something foreign, no t the perpetuation of a constructed sense of closeness or the elevation of th e academic into a special connection with the dead. He also sees the otherness of the specter sp eaking from the moment scholar s open their mouths. The very

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177 state of the scholars being is populated with innumerable ghosts appearing, reappearing, and disappearing. What might it mean, then, to open th e field of literary studies up to the foreign inside Romantic celebrity or to explore the other inside literary studies? While I have focused on the fantasized conn ection between the academic scholar and the dead Romantic celebrity as an image of familiari ty and desire turned into a decaying horror, an extended analysis could complement the work I have already done on the confrontation with the foreign ghost. The huge industry of Jane Austen books, both those writte n as sequels to her novels and those written to address the middleclass culture that regularly consumes these novels, would provide a useful count erpoint to the more gothic text s I explored in my chapters. Laurie Viera Riglers recent novel Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict (2008), for example, depicts one of Austens many contemporary fans tr aveling back to the ea rly nineteenth century and learning to hate the restrictions placed on her behavior during the period. The disjunction between the fans expectations and the space she encounters provides a cri tique of the discourse of personal familiarity Ive explored in my project. Here, we find that the Austen fan really does not want to be embedded in the world describe d by her favorite novelist. The nostalgic space of Austens novels is made into a world where th e object of desire is foreign and disgusting. More generally, the reincarnation of the Romantic author in sc ience fiction could point to a more useful way to imagine the connection be tween the ghost and the future. I have already mentioned William Gibson and Bruce Sterlings use of Byron and Keats in The Difference Engine but a more interesting connection to science fiction is found in Dan Simmons Hyperion series. Simmonss books present a wo rld in the far future that is dying and uses allusions to Keats to give the story mythological weight. The second book in the series, The Fall of Hyperion (1990), portrays the reincarnation of John Keats in the character Joseph Severn. Keats is brought

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178 back to life as a cybrid, an artificial body given the memories of the poet, and is forced to reexperience Keatss death. The creators of the Keat s cybrid see the repetition of this death as a consequence of bringing back the Romantic poet. An afterlife, in this novel, is only possible with a death experienced after death. The ghosts of J ohn Keats recall not a lost presence, but instead prophesy the repetiti on of loss and death. Texts like the ones I have explored in this pr oject rethink the role of Romantic celebrity and literary immortality by linking them to discourses of death a nd decay. These discourses also reflect a belief that the conn ection existing between Romantic celebrities and their academic readers has now been erased or destroyed by the ge neral dissolution of literary studies. Some of these texts approach the dissolution of literatu re by foregrounding the im potence of literary writing ( Disgrace, Gothic ); others allegorize death by focu sing more directly on the dead celebrity (From Hell Patchwork Girl ). Whatever may be said about a future for literary studies, the specters inhabiting future scholars and future conjurations of Romantic celebrity will speak to us in a foreign language. Whether or not we hear, or can ever decrypt these foreign future spectral tongues remains an open question.

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179 LIST OF REFERENCES Abraham Nicholas and Maria Torok. The Shell and the Kernel: Renewals of Psychoanalysis Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 1994. Ackroyd, Peter. Chatterton New York: Grove Press, 1988. The Act of Seeing with Ones Own Eyes Dir. Stan Brakhage. 1974. Albright, Rick. Review of Gothic Romantic Circles: Scholarly Resources (September 1999). 27 February 2008. . Ali, Barish. The Violence of Criticism: Th e Mutilation and Exhibi tion of History in From Hell Journal of Popular Culture 38.4 (May 2005): 605-31. Attridge, Derek. The Singularity of Literature New York: Routledge, 2004. Atwell David. An exclusive interview with JM Coetzee. DN Kultur 8 December 2003. 21 May 2007. . Ault, Donald. In the Trenches, Taking the H eat: Confessions of a Comics Professor. International Journal of Comic Art (Pi oneers of Comics Scholarship Series). 5.2 (Fall 2003): 241-60. Barnett, S.E. Mary Shelleys Daughter. 1999. Los Angeles, CA. Baulch, David. Review of Blake, Nationalism and the Politic s of Alienation. RaVoN: Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net. 36-37. (November 2004-February 2005) . Bennett, Andrew. Romantic Poets and the Culture of Posterity Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999. Bennett, Betty. Mary Shelleys lett ers: the public/p rivate self. The Cambridge Companion to Mary Shelley New York: Cambridge UP, 2003. 211-225. Bentley, G.E. Blake Records Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969. Brub, Michael. The Employment of English: Theory, Jo bs and the Future of Literary Studies New York: New York UP, 1998. Bolter, Jay David. Writing Space: The Computer Hypertext, and the History of Writing. Hillsdale: L. Erlbaum Associates, 1991. Botting, Fred. Making Monstrous: Frankenstein, Criticism, Theory New York: Manchester UP, 1991. Bousquet, Marc. How the University Works. New York: NYU Press, 2008.

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180 Brenton, Howard. Bloody Poetry. New York: Modern Plays (Methuen), 1986. Bride of Frankenstein Dir. James Whale. Perf. Colin Cla y, Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester. Universal, 1935. Burt, Richard. Unspeakable Shaxxxespeares: Queer Theory and Kiddie Culture. New York: St. Martins Press, 1998. Campbell, Eddie. Comics on the Main Street of Culture. ImageTexT: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies 1.2. . Carlyle, Thomas and Jane Welsh. The Collected Letters of Thomas Carlyle. Ed. Charles Richard Sanders et al. 21 vols. Durham: Duke Un iversity Press, 1969-present.Romantic Historicism. Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 1998. Carlson, Julie. Englands First Family of Writers: Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, and Mary Shelley. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2007. Champagne, Rosaria. The Politics of Survivorship: Womens Literature and Feminist Theory New York: NYU Press, 1998. Chandler, David. England in 1819. The Politics of Literary Cutlure and the Case of Romantic Historicism. Chicago; U of Chicago Press, 1998. ---. One Consciousness: Historical Criticism and the Romantic Canon. Romanticism on the Net. 17 (February 2000). 27 February 2008. . Ciccoricco, David. Reading Network Fiction Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama Press, 2007. Clark, Steve and Jason Wh ittaker. Introduction. Blake, Modernity and Popular Culture Ed. Steve Clark and Jason Whittaker. New York: Palgrave, 2007. 1-11 --and Masashi Suzuki., eds. The Reception of Blake in the Orient New York: Continuum, 2006. Coetzee, J. M. Critic and Citizen: A Response. Pretexts: Literary and Cultural Studies 9.1 (2000). 109-111. ---. Age of Iron London: Penguin, 1998. ---. Disgrace London: Penguin, 2000. ---. Elizabeth Costello London: Penguin, 2004. Cochran, Peter, ed. Hobby-O: The Diary of John Cam Hobhouse 16 May 2008. 11 June 2008. .

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182 Edmundson, Mark. Dwelling in Possibilites. Chronicle for Higher Education 14 March 2008. 11 June 2008. . Edwards, Anne. Haunted Summer New York: Hodder and Stoughton, 1989. Ehland, Christoph. Approaching Keates: In Search of the Writer in Factual and Fictional Spaces. Proceedings of the Conference of the German Association of University Teachers of English. Volume XXVII. Trier: Wissens chaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2006. Eiselr, Brenda. Byron: Child of Passion, Fool of Fame New York: Vintage, 1999. Eliot, T.S. Complete Poems and Plays 1909-1950 New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1952. Eno, Vincent and El Csawza. Vincent Eno and El Csawza meet comics megastar Alan Moore. Feuilleton 20 February 2006. 11 April 2008. Erdman, David., ed. Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake Bearkley: U of California Press, 1982. Faubert, Michelle. Cure, Cl assification, and John Claire. Victorian Literature and Culture. 33 (2005): 269-291. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Dir. Terry Gilliam. Perf Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro. Universal, 1998. Florescu, Radu with Matei Cazacu. In Search of Frankenstein New York: New York Graphic Society, 1975. Frankenstein Unbound. Dir. Roger Corman. Perf. Raul Ju lia, Bridgett Fonda, Nick Brimble. Twentieth Centrury-Fox, 1990. Freud, Sigmund. The Uncanny. Trans. David McLintock. London: Penguin, 2003. ---. Mourning and Melancholia. The Penguin Freud Reader Ed. Adam Phillips. London: Penguin, 2006. 310-326. Gibson, William and Bruce Sterling. The Difference Engine New York: Bantam Books, 1991. Gilchrist, Alexander. The Life of William Blake Volume 1. New York: Phaeton Press, 1969. Glausser, Wayne. Locke and Blake: A Conversation Across the Eighteenth Century Gainesville: U Press of Florida, 1998. Graham, Lucy Valerie. Reading the Un speakable: Rape in J. M. Coetzees Disgrace. Journal of South African Studies 29.2. 433-444. Grant, Barry Keith. The Body Politic: Ken Russell in the 1980s. Fires Were Started: British Cinema and Thatcherism Second Edition. London: Wallflower Press, 2006. 182-94.

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183 Greer, Germaine. Yes, Frankenstein really was written by Mary Shelle y. Its obviousbecause the book is so bad. The Guardian (9 April 2007). 27 February 2008. . Gross, Jonathan. Who Wrote Frankenstein? The Common Reader 6.2 (2007): 6-13. Guiccoli, Teresa. My Recollections of Lord Byron New York: Harper and Brothers, 1869. Guillory, John. Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation. Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 1993. Hatfield, Charles. Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature Jackson: U Press of Mississippi, 2005. Hayles, N. Katherine. Flickering C onnectivities in Shelley Jacksons Patchwork Girl : The Importance of Media-Specific Analysis. Postmodern Culture 10.2 (2000): ---. Translating Media: Why We Should Rethink Textuality. Yale Journal of Criticism 16.2 (2003): 265-290. Hazlitt, William. On the Fear of Death. Selected Essays of William Hazlitt Ed. Geoffrey Keynes. London: 1930. Heuman, Josh and Richard Burt. Suggested for Mature Readers?: Deco nstructing Shakepearean Value in Comic Books. Shakespeare after Mass Media Ed. Richard Burt. New York: Macmillan 2002. 151-172. Hitchcock, Susan Tyler. Frankenstein: A Cultural History New York: W.W. Norton, 2007. Hoevler, Diane Long. Screen Memories and Fi ctionalized Autobiography in Mary Shelleys Mathilda and The Mourner. Nineteenth-Century Contexts 27.4 (2005): 365-81. Hoobler, Dorothy and Thomas. The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein New York: Back Bay Books, 2007. Hoover, Suzanne. William Blake in the Wild erness: A Closer Look at His Reputation 18271863. William Blake: Essays in Honor of Sir Geoffrey Keynes Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973. 310-48. Houghton, Sarah. John Claire and Revaluation Literature Compass 2.1. 20 June 2008. . Jameson, Frederic. Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism Durham: Duke UP, 1991. Jenkins, Henry. Fans, Bloggers and Gamers: Expl oring Participatory Culture New York: NYU Press, 2006.

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184 The Journals of Mary Shelley Volume 1: 1818-1844 Ed. Paula R. Feldman. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1987. Joyce, Michael. Of Two Minds: Hypertext Pedagogy and Poetics Ann Arbor: U of Michigan Press, 1996. Karatani, Kojin. Transcritique: On Kant and Marx. Trans. Sabu Koshu. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005. Kavanaugh, Barry. The Alan Moore Interview. Blather 17 October 2000. 10 April 2008. Kleek, Justin Van. Blakes Four Zoas? Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly. 39.1 (Summer 2005): 38-43. Keep, Christopher. Growing Intimate with Monsters: Shelley Jacksons Patchwork Girl and the Gothic Nature of Hypertext. Romanticism on the Net 41-42 (February-May 2006): . Khalip, Jacques. A Disappearance in the World: Wollstonecraft and Melancholy Skepticism. Criticism 47.1 (2005): 83-106.