Anthony Mandal will be presenting his paper, ‘Bibliophobia: Textuality and Alterity in Recent Gothic Fiction’ at 5.15pm on Tuesday, 15 February 2011. The talk will take place in the Cardiff Humanities Building, Room 2.48.
The labyrinthine library and textual untrustworthiness are nothing new in fiction: throughout its history, gothic literature, in particular, has been populated with libraries as problematized loci that belie their seemingly progressive principles, while the elucidatory potential of language is subverted by the gothic’s preoccupation with linguistic slippage, discovered manuscripts, inset tales, narrative fragmentation and structural contradictions. Textuality is disclosed in the gothic as a contested concept, both the vessel of lost knowledge and the harbinger of destruction.
Taking some theoretical models supplied by Borges, Foucault and Eco as his starting points, Mandal’s talk will consider the ‘bibliophobia’ of recent gothic novels by John Harwood, Elizabeth Kostova, Arturo Pérez-Reverte and Carlos Ruiz Zafón, in which the text becomes the locus of supernatural irruptions that threaten to infect the everyday world. Promising the privilege and completeness of structured knowledge, these novels paradoxically reveal the textual condition as masking disorder and monstrosity, consequently raising disconcerting questions about authority, truthfulness and human identity itself.
About the speaker
Dr Anthony Mandal is Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Associate Director of the Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research at Cardiff University. His research interests include 19th-century literature and print culture, the history of the book, digital humanities and gothic writing. He has written articles on 19th-century fiction and publishing, evangelicalism, the gothic and Jane Austen, and is the author of Jane Austen and the Popular Novel: The Determined Author (2007) and co-editor of The Reception of Jane Austen in Europe (2007). He has also designed a number of online databases that focus on Romantic fiction and Victorian illustration, and is a General Editor of the New Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Works of Robert Louis Stevenson, to be published by Edinburgh University Press over the next ten years in 39 volumes.