1. My comic:
2. Does the comic convey and/or parody any of the aspects of the Gothic imagination (as defined in the Introductory Notes for class)? If so, how? Does the comic convey and/or parody the idea of the sublime as understood by Ann Radcliffe? If so, how?
The authors of this comic seem to have an understanding of the Gothic Imagination- their color scheme is a bleak grey, black, and white palate. The room is furnished with a candelabra and wrought-iron bed. These tactics create the “antiquated space” so strongly associated with the gothic. The young girl in the coffin can be said to be absorbed with the past- vampires are an ancient superstition- and associated with secrets- the undead don’t exactly walk openly exposed among the public. The very nature of a vampire’s being- not alive, yet not dead- blurs the line between the natural and the supernatural.
Ann Radcliffe does not deal with anything supernatural in The Veiled Picture. All events that at first appear to be so are explained by physical realities either immediately after the thrill of terror they created have subsided, or certainly by the end of the novel. Case in point: “As she mused, se saw the door slowly open, and a rustling sound in a remote part of the room startled her…her alarm, however, soon subsided, on perceiving it was her faithful dog” (Radcliffe 32-330. This comic deals directly with the supernatural through the allusion to vampires. But, similar to Radcliffe, the belief in the supernatural carries the image, not the reality of the supernatural. Vampires are never said to be true or false in the comic, nor do they appear in the image, as specters are never justified in The Veiled Picture. But the character’s belief in the possibility creates the tension necessary to provide the story with the horror that makes it gothic.
3. In what ways, if any, does this modern comic reflect a connection to the history and beginnings of the Gothic imagination?
I love the Fed Ex sticker on the box. It made me think of Dracula shipping his coffin off all over the place. The setting reminds me of The Castle of Udolpho and The Veiled Picture- dark and mysterious (for a comic, anyway). The dark, shadowy atmosphere with grey walls and musty candelabras call to mind the dark dank castles so often employed by writers of gothic fiction.
4. Who might be some of the target audiences for this comic? What might their relationship to the Gothic tradition be?
All of these comics seem directed at those individuals who call themselves ‘goth’, but don’t necessarily know what the term means. They consider being gothic to mean wearing black clothing, listening to heavy music, and biting heads off bats. A true goth is harder to find these days, as many have turned into what is now called ‘emo’. This next comic really demonstrated that fact:
I think it’s an excellent parody of the emo culture.
5. Do you like the comic? Did anything about it either surprise you or confirm your expectations? Is it effective in conveying its message? What is its message, do you think?
I picked this comic just because of the FedEx sticker. I don’t know if it was a purposeful allusion to Dracula, but it was very effective if so. The fact that the girl’s coffin is a bunch of old cardboard boxes taped together is also amusing- it says she’s only playing pretend. I used to do the same thing when I was little, but I limited myself to houses and tunnels.
Part II: Music
Please "read around a bit" at the websites of two bands, Nox Arcana (Music from the Shadows)
1. How does each band understand the Gothic, do you think? Would they embrace our definition from the Introductory Notes? Ann Radcliffe's understanding of the sublime?
I think Nox Arcana would definitely relate more to the definition of the gothic imagination from the class notes than to that given by Anne Radcliffe. Their poem about the Winter Solstice and the wandering soul feels more like something from the Baron de Motte Foque than from Anne Radcliffe, who dealt more with natural reality (from what I’ve read of her).
2. How does the artwork on each band's albums and website relate to the Gothic imagination?
The artwork on Nox Arcana’s website seemed more ‘modern’ in their portrayal of the gothic imagination. The Devil-y looking artwork in one of their stories reminded me of Memnoch the Devil (Anne Rice) or of something that might be painted on a chapel wall somewhere- more Renaissance-ish. When I think of the ‘traditional’ gothic, I think of virtuous maidens and scary but relatively benign things, not horned demons or fiery pits.
3. How does the sound of each band's music relate to the Gothic imagination?
The band’s music definitely put me in the mood for spooky houses and creaking stairs. As I read the stories on Nox Arcana’s page, the accompanying background music made me want to turn on the light and look over my shoulder. I would definitely call the music gothic.
4. Who might be some of the target audiences for this music? What might their relationship to the Gothic tradition be?
In my mind, this music would have to be targeted to a very specific audience- an audience that wears black lipstick and combat boots on days that may or may not be Halloween. This is not something that reaches the Billboard Top 20. I imagine it would be sold at stores like Hot Topic or independently-owned record stores, or maybe brought out at Halloween as a specialty item. I think that (other than the Halloween buyers) anyone buying these albums would have a closer tie to the ‘true’ gothic tradition than perhaps someone who reads and relates to the Rebecca’s Realm comics. They might have a greater awareness of the historical gothic tradition than a person who bites off bat’s heads.
5. Do you think these bands are effective at conveying an atmosphere and/or feeling? Why or why not? Do you like this music? Did anything in particular about these websites either surprise you or confirm your expectations? (Note: We will be looking at other kinds of Gothic music later in the class.)
Both bands were incredibly effective at conveying an atmosphere- an atmosphere of creepy crawly spooky things. As I said in my answer to question three, reading Nox Arcana’s stories and listening to their music gave me the shivers. The accompanying artwork contributed to that feeling to. The old, manuscripty, images were a good touch. I would say that Nox Arcana’s website especially did a good job of making a webpage as multi-sensory as possible. I quite enjoyed their page.
Part I: "Beyond the Sea"
1. What themes and ingredients in "Beyond the Sea" reflect the Gothic imagination? Are these effective in creating a compelling story, do you think? Why or why not?
With the appearances of Scully’s dead father and the psychic inmate, these supernatural scenes make “Beyond the Sea” a reflection of the Gothic imagination. “Beyond the Sea” also has a secret that is centered on the episode, such as the connection and interest that the prison inmate has with Scully’s father and the mystery of whether the inmate is truly psychic. With the appearances of Scully’s father along with the memories, the past does present itself strongly in the episode. The only factor that was not present was that there was not one particular central site where all the action took place, such as a castle or dungeon, but other than that, “Beyond the Sea” did well in reflecting the Gothic imagination. I believe that telling a story with a Gothic aspect does create a good set-up, as long as the person listening to the story is open to that type of story telling just because all the ingredients that compose the Gothic imagination may not be everyone’s “cup of tea.”
2. What visual aspects of the episode reflect the Gothic imagination? How are they, if at all, updated for the contemporary setting and audience? How does seeing a Gothic story differ from reading one? Is the visual storytelling effective, do you think, in achieving the effects intended by the Gothic? Why or why not?
The dark creepy setting throughout the episode, the ghost of Scully’s father and the stone angel are examples of the visual aspects that reflect the Gothic imagination. Instead of the episode taking place in a dungeon or castle, it had a modern appeal with scenes taking place in the present. Seeing a Gothic story made it much better to visualize how intense the characters and storylines can be rather than reading one, however, reading does send one’s imagination soaring and everyone can interpret a situation whichever way they like versus when someone is watching a Gothic story, they may be given the interpretation that the director or the screenwriter saw.
3. What atmosphere did this episode evoke? What feelings? How did it do this?
The episode evoked a suspenseful feeling for the conclusion of the story, but I also felt sad for Scully and the situation that she found herself in. Having her partner doubt the only man who would solve a case for her as well as allowing her to communicate with her father, Scully was divided between her duties as an agent and her desire to connect with her father so she had no choice but to trust this criminal. As far as the suspense, the X-Files have always freaked me out because it was always filmed in very mysterious locations and the topics were inconclusive and frightening, so simply watching the episode and hoping for the best created a suspenseful atmosphere.
4. In what ways did this episode compare to the stories you've been reading in class? Differ?
This episode was similar in that there was a villain, a secret to be uncovered and a supernatural theme. But it differed because we went from having literature evoke certain feelings to having a visual elements do the same so it was much easier to imagine and be freaked out.
5. In what ways, if at all, does this episode suggest that the Gothic story still has something to say to us today? How and why, do you think, does the Gothic imagination continue to resonate with audiences? Explain.
The Gothic imagination will always have an audience because its expression will always represent the uniqueness and differences that we all have inside and it will continue to do so through pop culture. There is no reason that clothes, movies and TV shows, like the X-Files and Hot Topic, would not have been created had there not been a large audience to market it to. “Beyond the Sea” shows that the Gothic story still has something for us today with its suspense, climax and interesting story line. It does not matter whether someone likes Gothic literature or not, these types of visual arts will always interest the mass.
6. What is your reaction to this episode?
I have never watched the X-Files except for the beginning with the creepy music and pictures, at which point I would change the channel. But I like this episode because it reminded me of Silence of the Lambs, a movie that I absolutely love! I also found that the chemistry between Scully and her partner very sweet and entertaining.
2. I Come From: Born in Chicago, Cubs fan (just wait until next year), but have lived in Tennessee for 34 years.
3. My Year and Major: I'm a senior, but am taking it slow as I also work full time. I hope to graduate next December (2008) but have my current Physics class, and three future math classes to live through before that happens. In my previous life in college (25+ years ago), I was an English Literature major, but am currently a Liberal Studies major.
4. My Picture: See above. I've been blessed in so many ways in my life, and have seen and done so much, but one of the top five greatest times of my life was this past spring when I spent 12 glorious WONDERFUL days in Egypt. Since I got back home, I've been saving for my next trip...
5. Some Facts About Me: Married to Terry for 23 years, and am still learning new things about him. We have two children, two grandchidren, and numerous nieces and nephew with whom I am in love. I work full time at Vanderbilt as administrative assistant to the director of Liver Transplant. I left school at the end of my junior year, and thought I'd return "someday". My younger sister died of an asthma attack in February 2005, and that spurred me into action. I entered Belmont in October 2005, and have enjoyed every minute of it. Even Physics. I love my husband, my family, reading, gardening, flying, and Egypt. (But I do not believe I was Cleopatra in an earlier life. Maybe her dog...)
6. Learn More About Me: By e-mailing me at: email@example.com.
7. Why I Am Interest In "History and the Gothic Imagination": I've loved reading since I was a toddler, and my tastes - while eclectic - tend toward the darker side of literature and movies too (not "Saw"-type movies, though). I like gothic literature in all it's creepy and creaky darkness. I like the strange and unusual because, to quote Lydia from "Beetlejuice": "... I myself am strange and unusual." I want to have the chance to really explore in detail the books I've read in the past and will read in this class. I want to get to know what really influenced the authors. I do know Poe's background, but am curious about the others.
8. My First Impression of the Term "Gothic Imagination" (What Do I Think Of?): In my mind's eye I instantly see the House of Usher, and expect Roderick to ride up outside my house.
9. What I Would Like To Get Out of This Class: I'd like to gain a deeper understanding of the gothic authors. To learn what was happening in society and their lives that moved them to write. I'm also interested in linking early gothic literature to current "gothic" writings.
10. Parting Thoughts: This is my first fully online course, and my first blogging. Don't know how I'll do with either, but am excited to find out.