Goth Rhizomes: Queer Differences in Minor Gothic Literature
Holmes, Trevor Michael
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This project identifies three minor authors in three historical periods, applying deconstructive and queer theory to their writings and to their biographies. The resulting analysis traces gothic effects through other, more familiar texts and figures in order to bring about re-readings that disrupt certain monolithic understandings of literary and sexual identity over time. With a focus on gender transitivity and sexual dissidence, and the insights afforded by queer readings in which queer is framed as a verb, the analysis opens up ways of reading genre through the experimental theories of Deleuze and Guattari. Going beyond identifying major and minor gothic literature, I propose that we understand the literary gothic as a writing machine that produces goth-identified subjects. Tracing concepts like Minor Literature, Rhizome, Becoming-other, the Refrain, and the Body without Organs through fictional and life narratives from Charlotte Dacre, Percy Shelley, Count Eric Stenbock, and Poppy Z. Brite (Billy Martin), I suggest ways in which my reading of minor figures and their works has implications for how we might re-read works by major authors Jane Austen (Northanger Abbey) and Henry James (“The Jolly Corner”), and works by popular author Anne Rice (with a particular focus on the character Lestat and the later novel Tale of the Body Thief). Similar to the Foucauldian notion of the subject as simultaneously an effect of and a producer of discourse, the turn to Deleuze and Guattari requires a more explicit addressing of agency on the part of authors and readers. A micropolitics of the self through prose narrative is derived, as against a grand narrative of influence, filiation, and static sexual definition.