Representations of violence in Gothic literature: Consumer practices and cultural identity
Consumption is a common, everyday practice which can be said to establish difference. It does not merely express existing differences, however, it creates difference. Because the concept of identity and its construction is ail integral part of both consumption and the field of cultural studies, the possible cultural implications attached to the active consumption of violent representations in Gothic literature must be explored. ^ Representations can perhaps best be understood by exploring terms like Aristotle's mimesis, Baudrillard's simulacrum, Benjamin's aura of work, and, in particular, hooks stereotyping, whereby a projection (of the self) onto an Other can result in denial of the self Representation is important to the study of consumption and particularly the consumption of violent material because it reveals the process by which alienation can occur, just as a distinction between an “original” and that which remains, “the copy,” can be destroyed. This destruction can contribute to the alteration and, indeed, destruction of one's identity. Stereotyping, while not always “accurate,” can act as a substitute for that which is real because, as hooks notes, it “encourages pretense.” Identity can be thought of as a representation, as pretense that is self-denying (and hence potentially self-destructive), through the process of consumerism. ^ The act of consumption may be explored from a cultural studies perspective which seeks to examine through psychoanalytic and Marxist theories an industrialized society's “whole way of life.” The concept of identity is an integral part of this “whole way of life” and to the process of consumerism because identity is created through the act of consuming. Because some of the most eagerly consumed classic and contemporary representations of violence in literature can be found in Gothic literature, it provides an excellent vehicle to explore the active consumption of violence and the possible cultural implications this practice may have on our individual and collective identities. ^ The purpose of this study will be to examine, historically, classic and contemporary Gothic literature, the role agency plays in consumer practices, and the possible cultural implications/outcomes of an identity cloaked in violence for both characters and consumers alike. ^
Katherine A McGurl,
"Representations of violence in Gothic literature: Consumer practices and cultural identity"
Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access).