Animation and Reanimation in the Victorian Gothic

McCollum, Jennifer. Animation and Reanimation in the Victorian Gothic. 2012. University of Washington, PhD dissertation.

"Animation and Reanimation in the Victorian Gothic" establishes the aesthetic of the body in motion as central to ongoing debates about the status of gender and race politics in an increasingly urbane and post-colonial Empire. Mobility was a popular characteristic of the Victorian body in fiction, particularly considering the gothic body's unique ability to transgress moral, social, and political boundaries in conjunction with national and cultural ones. Thomas Carlyle's dream of upward mobility, for example, was fringed with macabre rhetoric in which mores of progress were inverted. My dissertation shows how the possessed, the double, and the zombie-body illustrate the tension between generative and degenerative modes of empowerment for the Empire's vision of progress. I borrow heavily from a historical framework that correlates mobility with hysteria - such as dancing mania - in order to question whether Victorians were progressive in their transfigurations of the "different" body.

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