Immigrant Portraiture and the Art of the Alien

Just over ten years ago, in 2005, a new book collecting the work of Augustus F. Sherman was published to much media interest and online fanfare. Sherman was an amateur photographer working as Chief Registry Clerk at New York’s Ellis Island station from 1892 until 1925, and he photographed some of the twelve million immigrants … Read more

The Uncanny

This week, teaching Dracula, I had the pleasure of re-reading Sigmund Freud’s essay on the uncanny, a thing described by Freud as ‘that class of the frightening which leads back to what is known of old and long familiar’ (p.219).* Why would ‘old and long familiar’ things ever be frightening, you may well ask? Freud puts together a … Read more

Now Reading: In Frankenstein’s Shadow by Chris Baldick

For a bit of inspiration, this past week I’ve been (re)reading In Frankenstein’s Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity, and Nineteenth-century Writing, by Chris Baldick. I picked up my copy secondhand for a song at Troutmark Books, in Cardiff’s Castle Arcade, paged through it on the way home, then left it virtually untouched on my ‘to-read’ bookshelf for the next six months. Fortunately, … Read more

Undead & Read: Why the Literary Zombie Mash-Up Trend Just Won’t Die

This week’s post by Monica Westin debates the highs and lows of the (still-undead) literary mashup genre, and also traces the evolution of the zombie in popular culture. It was originally posted on October 26, 2010, and is reproduced here with the kind permission of Newcity Lit.  We’re living in strange times in the world of literature, a time … Read more

Penny Dreadful versus The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Penny-Dreadful-Vanessa-Ives

[EDIT: I penned a running review series of Penny Dreadful season three for the Victorianist. Click here for direct links.]

This article contains (very) minor spoilers, so if you haven’t yet seen Penny Dreadful or read The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, you may want to steer clear.

When the Showtime/Sky television series Penny Dreadful was announced, many fans and critics accused it of plagiarising Alan Moore and Kevin O’Niell’s comic book series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It does, after all, feature a very similar cast of characters and draw from similar nineteenth-century texts, especially if you count the abysmal film adaptation from 2003. Both mashups feature characters plundered from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, though LoEG showrunner Mina Murray is replaced by her father Malcolm (played by Timothy Dalton) in Penny Dreadful, as the unofficial ‘leader’ of the band of monsters. Sir Malcolm Murray, like LoEG’s Allan Quatermain, is a hunter and explorer who spent much of his life in Africa.

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Victorian Monsters? Strategies of Appropriation in the Neo-Victorian Mashup

This post originally appeared on the Victorianist, the postgraduate blog of the British Association for Victorian Studies, on 18 May 2015. It is reposted here with the kind permission of the editors. I should probably preface this post by admitting that I’m not a real Victorianist. The Victorians were one of my undergraduate passions, and … Read more

Anatomy of a Cover

We’re always told that we should never judge a book by its cover, but the truth is that a lot of work goes into making sure we do. A cover generally gives us an immediate idea of the genre, register, and target audience of a book. A good cover will also generate excitement and interest, … Read more

The Good, the Bad, and the Book Trailers

Happy World Book Day (a few days late, and also only in the UK and Ireland)! This week’s post will be a short one, because I’ve got a big deadline on Friday that I should be focusing on, but I’ll try to start you off on an interesting trajectory. Naturally, the part of Book Day most people … Read more