Material Witness: Occult Affects in the Mystery Fiction of the Fin de Siècle

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Material Witness: Occult Affects in the Mystery Fiction of the Fin de Siècle, Is A Well-Researched Topic, It Is To Be Used As A Guide Or Framework For Your Research

Abstract

As the nineteenth century progressed, Spiritualism blossomed from a religious movement to a cultural moment. While it remained an object of faith or ancillary faith, Spiritualism became as well a voice for radical reform, parlour entertainment, means of negotiating an increasingly mediated world, and so forth. Combined with enthusiasm for occult knowledge, Spiritualism offered intricately interrelated modes of narrating our relation to a consistently present past, in light of a rapidly approaching future. My project reads this fin-de-siècle fascination as a sensibility. Occult figures and Spiritualist impulses, I argue, provide a vocabulary of feelings evoked in encounters with the mysterious. My dissertation turns to mystery fiction, examining the influence this occult sensibility has in narrating a criminal investigation’s material mise-en-scène. In my first chapter, I read the corpse in Richard Marsh’s thriller The Goddess (1900) as the centre of spreading similarities and sympathies, each marked by occult figures. I explore an anxiety toward dissolved boundaries expressed in the violent rupture of a murdered body and the further disruptions of definition and identity it initiates. My second chapter turns to the signature objects of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes canon. I tease out three items from “A Case of Identity” (1891) and The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) to argue that the affects, history, and individuality of the clue parallel psychometric belief, particularly that our items inhere their vicinity, ownership, and interactions within their soul. Reading Anna Katharine Green’s novel The Filigree Ball (1903) in Chapter Three, I suggest the locked-room convention anxiously articulates the porous nature of domestic space. I suggest Green’s depiction of a room that repeats its violence stages the uncanny domesticity of a family that accepts its haunting. In my final chapter, Algernon Blackwood’s ghost story “The Empty House” (1906) prompts a reading of spaces in The Goddess, the Holmes canon, and The Filigree Ball. Each depicts rooms haunted by disembodied emotion, only available to the detective who adopts a mediumistic, negative affect. Throughout the project, the tales I examine consistently borrow occult affects to imagine a material world unexpectedly charged with lingering history and affective intensity.

Table of Contents

Abstract ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. ii
Summary for Lay Audience ………………………………………………………………………………….. iii
Acknowledgments……………………………………………………………………………………………….. iv
Table of Contents ………………………………………………………………………………………………… vi
List of Abbreviations …………………………………………………………………………………………. viii
Introduction with Interludes: The Hydesville Mystery Theatre …………………………………. ix
Chapter 1 …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 1
1 Sympathy for the Demon: Fellow Feeling and Occulted Connections …………………….. 1
1.1 ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 2
1.2 ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 34
Chapter 2 …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 66
2 Perplexing Possessions: Objective Information and the Psychometric Clue …………… 66
2.1 ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 72
2.2 ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 84
2.3 …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 102
Chapter 3 …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 118
3 Moored Space: Unlocked Rooms and Porous Domesticity ………………………………… 118
3.1 …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 125
3.2 …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 147
Chapter 4 …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 165
4 The Mind in the Place: Reading the Room and its Hauntings …………………………….. 165
4.1 …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 165
4.2 …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 178
4.3 …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 198

Conclusion ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 226
5 Some Brief Notes on Receptive Suspicions ……………………………………………………… 226
Bibliography ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 238
Curriculum Vitae ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 247

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YourPastQuestions Brand

Additional information

Author

Thomas Matthew Stuart

No of Chapters

4

No of Pages

281

Reference

YES

Format

PDF

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