Editor’s Introduction

With the resurgence of neo-Victorianism, this edition of the Dark Arts Journal is dedicated to exploring one of the most high profile and successful neo-Victorian texts of the post-millennial TV Gothic revival, Penny Dreadful from Showtime. In three short seasons, the show gathered an appreciative though no never huge audience and in the wake of its end has quickly been declared something of a cult classic. Thus, the essays in this edition of the DAJ seek to expose the show to a wider audience and serve as a spur both to the ongoing theoretical work around neo-Victorianism and the show specifically.

The show itself resonates with the contention made in the manifesto of the V21 collective, that we are, despite our pretensions to modernity, still Victorian. The problems and challenges of the nineteenth century are still with us, and so it should be no surprise that in the monsters and ghosts and dreadful specters of the past we see new ways of restaging and retelling old problems. Here then, neo-Victorianism and the Gothic prove themselves to be fruitful partners, as the old monsters of a nineteenth-century literary culture, re-emerge into the television culture of the twenty-first century. The articles in this edition reflect this as they explore the reimagining of Victorian monsters, the sexual politics of the show and the sheer Gothic excess of the neo-Victorian.

Producing the journal is always a collaborative effort so we would like to thank all of the peer reviewers, the contributors and the wider Gothic community for continuing to support new and emerging voices in Gothic studies.

The Editors

Jonathan Greenaway

Stephanie Reid

About the authors: 

Dr. Allison E. Francis (Paynter) is a Professor of English, and Coordinator of the English Department at Chaminade University of Honolulu in Hawaii.  Dr. Francis teaches and publishes academic papers on a range of topics, which include Victorian Literature, Theatre and Poetry, Vodou in Haiti, 19th century African American and Caribbean women’s Literature, and Women’s Literature with a focus on science fiction and fantasy.

She recently co-edited South Sea Encounters: Nineteenth-Century Oceania, Britain, and America published with Routledge in 2018, which includes her chapter “Ernest Hogan’s Colored All-Stars Minstrel Show: A Case of Racial Discrimination in the Republic of Hawaii”. Dr. Francis has a forthcoming chapter, “Contextualizing Escape in the Neo-Slave Narratives of Sherley Anne Williams’ Dessa Rose and Octavia Butler’s Kindred,” that will be published in an anthology celebrating the works of Octavia Butler.  She continues to be entranced by the gothic and the fantastic in Victorian Literature, and popular media culture.

Friederike Danebrock is a Junior Lecturer at the Modern English Literature Department at the Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf. Before that, she was a member of the “Materiality and Production” Postgraduate Programme at the University of Düsseldorf. She has an M.A. degree in English Studies and German Studies from the University of Cologne and her main research interests include the theory of fiction, narrative theory, seriality, the Gothic, and relations of psychoanalysis and literature. She can be reached via email at Friederike.Danebrock@hhu.de.

Kaelan Doyle Myerscough is a recent graduate of the Comparative Media Studies Master’s program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where they worked as a research assistant at the MIT Game Lab. Their master’s thesis considers intimate affects in contemporary AAA video games. Their research interests include affect theory and the formal analysis of new media, transnational new media production and consumption, and emergent forms of academic creation and expression. Kaelan‘s published work includes an essay on intertextuality between online communities, social activism and Jia Zhangke’s 2013 film A Touch of Sin and a comic adaptation of excerpts from Kathleen Stewart’s Ordinary Affects. Their website can be found at kaelandm.wordpress.com and their Twitter at @kaelandm.