Lesbian Gothic: Transgressive Fictions by Paulina Palmer
Lesbian Gothic traces the growth of lesbian Gothic fiction over the past twenty-five years, since the advent of the Women's Movement and Gay Liberation in the 1970s. It discusses a wide selection of novels and stories, contextualizing and re-evaluating them in the light of changing currents in lesbian/queer culture and politics. The figure of the lesbian, frequently portrayed in a homophobic/misogynistic light, has long been a standard component of popular Gothic fiction and film. Only recently, however, have motifs and modes of fiction with Gothic associations, such as the witch, the vampire, the spectral visitor and the Gothic thriller, been appropriated by writers adopting a lesbian viewpoint to articulate the transgressive aspect of lesbian sexuality and existence. Writers whose texts receive discussion in Lesbian Gothic include Rebecca Brown, Pat Califia, Emma Donoghue, Katherine V. Forrest, Ellen Galford, Sarah Schulman, Mary Wings and Jeanette Winterson. In reworking Gothic motifs and subjecting them to parodic revision, they challenge the prejudiced attitudes which traditionally inform the genre, transforming it into a vehicle for addressing a variety of lesbian and queer themes. These include the production of lesbian subjectivity and sexuality; relations between women; the relegation of the lesbians to the realm of the abject and the forms of resistance which she adopts; women's complex relationship with history and 'the lesbian past'; the preformative aspect of role and identity; and the construction of alternative familial groups and formations. These and other topics are discussed in the light of the poststucturalist theoretical discourse furnished by the ideas of Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, Judith Butler and Eve Sedgwick. WHile the study focuses chiefly on present-day writers, in tracing the development of lesbian Gothic and the influences it reflects, it also refers on occasion to earlier ones such as Daphne du Mauier, Djuna Barnes and Radclyffe Hall.