Forms of Fear and Dread and Doom

Martindale, Kym (2015) Forms of Fear and Dread and Doom. In: Sensational Men, 18-19 April 2015, Falmouth University. (Unpublished)

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Abstract / Summary

Patrick Brantlinger defines the sensation novel as ‘deal[ing] with crime, often murder as an outcome of adultery […] in apparently proper, bourgeois settings’; he further clarifies popular instances of the genre in the 1860s as sharing a ‘unique mixture of contemporary domestic realism with the elements of the Gothic’, the ‘Newgate novel of criminal “low life” and the “silver fork” novel of scandalous and sometimes criminal “high life”’. Pamela K Gilbert notes how the sensation novel’s transgressive appeal lay in its deliberate address ‘directly to the “nerves”, eliciting a physical sensation with its surprises, plot twists and startling revelations’. In other words, the content of the sensation novel is concerned with affect as much as it is with plot, and this is grounds for Kirstie Blair’s claim that where affect was the matter, ‘[p]oetry had a certain advantage over the novel […] in terms of form’ since ‘formal effects (rhythmic disturbances, for example) were considered capable of embodying and creating physiological responses’ too. The ballad, with its kinship to the broadside, its reliance on narrative, shock and denouement, and its insistence on refrain and rhythm, is a form already close to the sensation novel. Oscar Wilde’s poem, draws on all these traditions, and this paper will examine how Wilde deploys them to offer not a scandalous thrill, but an interrogation of the psychology of fear as it works through and on the prisoners as a collective body.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: poetry as affect poetry and sensation victorian poetry oscar wilde
Subjects: Writing & Journalism > Literature > English Literature
Courses by Department: The School of Writing & Journalism > English & Writing
Depositing User: Kym Martindale
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2017 16:02
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2023 13:35


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