Deadly Desires: The Uncanny, The Abject, and Gender in Carmilla


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Presentation for Victorian Gothic course.

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  • Deadly Desires: The Uncanny, The Abject, and Gender in Carmilla

    1. 1. Deadly Desires:The Uncanny, The Abject, and Gender in “Carmilla” Megan K. Mize
    2. 2. The Uncanny & The Abject In the Gothic GenreThe Uncanny: Sigmund Freud • Connects the “uncanny” to aesthetics, studying what causes sensations of anxiety. • Aesthetics are a sublimated reflection of our repressed instincts and impulses. • The uncanny is that which troubles us by pointing us towards what is known and familiar, but forgotten. • We experience the uncanny in adulthood because it reminds us of earlier psychic stages, of aspects of our unconscious life, or of even the primitive human experience. • “They are a harking-back to particular phases in the evolution of the self-regarding feeling, a regression to a time when the ego had not yet marked itself off sharply from the external world and from other people.”
    3. 3. The Uncanny & The Abject In the Gothic GenreThe Abject: Julia Kristeva • The “abject” refers to the human anxiety caused by the possible loss of the distinction between subject/ object or between self/ other. • That which we produce, then cast away. • "What disturbs identity, system, order. What does not respect borders, positions, rules" (Powers 4) • The abject serves the dual purpose of representing the threat of destabilizing meaning and motivating our reaction: a reestablishment of our borders. • Hence, in literature, the abject serves as catharsis: "an impure process that protects from the abject only by dint of being immersed in it" (Powers 29 ).
    4. 4. Interpreting “Carmilla”Repressed DesireIncest & MolestationThreat of FemaleHomosexualityFemale AgencyNationalism & AnxietyMetacommentary on theGenre
    5. 5. Meanwhile, Who’s in Laura’s room... there?! “The first occurrence in myThe Intersection of existence which produced a terrible impression upon mythe Uncanny & mind, which, in fact, neverGender in Carmilla has been effaced, was one of the very earliest incidents of my life which I can
    6. 6. The Abject & Carmilla “Now the truth is, I felt rather unaccountably towards the beautiful stranger. I did feel, as she said, ‘drawn towards her,’ but there was also something of repulsion. In this ambiguous feeling, however, the sense of
    7. 7. The Role of Male Desire Creates Female MonsterPreserves the AbjectObject (Instability)Destroys the AbjectObject
    8. 8. Visual Rhetoric Within the TextLaura’s Narrative Brings to Light what would be Concealed
    9. 9. BibliographyAdriano, Joseph. "Our DualExistence: Loving and Dying in LeFanus Carmilla"Davis, Michael."Gothics EnigmaticSignifier: The Case of J. Sheridan LeFanus Carmilla."Freud, Sigmund. "The Uncanny"Kristeva, Julia. "Powers of Horror."Major, Adrienne Antrim. "Other Love:Le Fanus Carmilla as Lesbian Gothic."Nethercot, Arthur. "ColeridgesChristabel and Le Fanus Carmilla."Singnorotti, Elizabeth. "Repossessingthe Body: Transgressive Desire inCarmilla and Dracula."Images by Sean Phillips, retrieved from