Special Issue of Revenant

Special Edition of Revenant: Obscene Surfacings and the Subterranean Gothic

Deadline for abstract submissions: October 31st 2020

Guest Editors: Joan Passey (Bristol), Sherezade García Rangel (Falmouth) and Daisy Butcher (Hertfordshire)

The Gothic is a fundamentally subterranean genre. Its underbelly is riddled with crypts, labyrinths, tombs, catacombs, graveyards, mausoleums, sewers, basements, caves, hollows, holes, and mineshafts. The genre is one concerned with the buried and the disinterred, the repressed and re-emergent. Stratified subterranean imagery connotes layers, surfaces, depths, deceits, and concealments. The Gothic is entangled in ideas of revealing, uncovering, and decoding. The act of reading as interpretation has been described by Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok as a cryptography related to cryptology. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick claimed that to be ‘buried alive’ is the Gothic master trope. The horror imagination is preoccupied with hands clawing through graves, clowns staring through flood drains, and the world’s potential subterranean flipside – its Upside Down.

From the underground labyrinths of Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764) to the dirt coffin of Dracula (1897); from Stephen King’s It (1986) to the underground realms of Jordan Peele’s Us (2019), the subterranean can be recognised in natural spaces and in inorganic infrastructure; in ancient architecture and modern interventions. In the Hole in the Ground (2019) presents the chasm of changelings, whereas Parasite (2019) uses the image of the basement to conjure class horrors.

Robert MacFarlane’s Underland (2019) uses the term ‘Anthropocene unburials’ to describe ecological catastrophes such as the thawing of the Arctic permafrost, positing these as ‘obscene surfacings’. Images and articulations of the Gothic underground have the capacity to unearth ecological, social, economic, and cultural anxieties.

This Special Edition of Revenant aims to catalogue the myriad subterranean, underground, underworld images that underline the Gothic imagination through its long, deep history. While there has been some recent attention paid to the environmental humanities and the Gothic, or the ecogothic, and the industrial Gothic, the subterranean Gothic in particular provides a space for considering intersections between these modes, complicating the binary of the industrial and the natural. Potential topics include but are not limited to:

  • The Gothic subterranean/underground/depths in literature, poetry, prose, drama, film, periodicals, newspapers, culture, society, economics, politics, video games, RPGs, Youtube videos, television, graphic novels, radio plays, podcasts, theatrical productions, musicals and comics

  • Mines, mining shafts, and mining bodies; tunnelling, digging, sewers; the industrial underground, working underground

  • The invisible poor, class stratification, and the Marxist imagination in the subterranean Gothic

  • The stratification of the psyche and the depths of the mind in the psychoanalytical Gothic

  • Literal or metaphorical holes, chasms, depths, craters, absences

  • The London underground, the Paris metro, the New York subway, and travelling bodies underground

  • Living underground, ‘hollow earth fiction’, and the fear of what may lie beneath

  • The geological, palaeontological, archaeological, and anthropological in the Gothic

  • The postcolonial Gothic and images of archaeology, exoticisation, and globalisation

  • Burials, the buried, graveyards, cemeteries, graverobbing, disinterment, memorials, and funeral practices

  • Caves and the natural world; the ecogothic; holes and chasms in the environment

  • Bogs, swamps, marshlands, wetlands, fens and liminal subterranean spaces

  • ‘Deep time’ and understandings of the primitive and the atavistic as related to the repressed or the underground

  • Dinosaurs, discovery, adventure fiction, empire fiction, and excavation

  • Underground lives – piskies, goblins, knockers, worms, moles, fungi

Get in Touch