Friday, August 15, 2008

Grotesque/Gurlesque - Lennard Davis

Here's an excerpt from Lennard Davis's Enforcing Normalcy that I'm using in the paper I'm currently writing. I thought it may be interesting to throw into the grotesque mix:

Davis argues that the role of art in this age is to cover up “the chaos of the body”: “… the fear of the unwhole baody, of the altered body, is kept at bay by depictions of whole, systematized bodies – the nudes of Western art” (134).


Blogger Danielle said...

Johannes, you might want to check Gail Kern Paster's The Body Embarrassed: Drama and the Disciplines of Shame in Early Modern England? Looks at the multiple marked instances of unwhole bodies in early modern drama (and medicine). The humoral (leaky, with interiority) body, as opposed the classical body Davis sites here in Western nudes (which also puts me in mind of Elisabeth Bronfen's Over Her Dead Body, but sure you've seen that). Kern Paster makes some nice obsvs. about Bakhtin's sense of grotesque, too (ie, his kind of pathological writing out of actual bodily functions, actual bodies). And has excellent anecdote about puppies being brought to suckle the devilish colostrum off postpartum mothers. Puppy teeth in dug, ugh.

I've been thinking a lot about the way early modern and contemporary grotesque differ from Gothic... Something in the moral play, s'pose. Something in the visceral rendering. Visceral rendering, sounds like making cheese or sausage or glue.


7:29 PM  
Blogger Johannes said...

Thanks for the tips.

Davis mostly talks about the 19th century, which makes sense because he discusses nation and capitalism. So Frankenstein for example is a key text.

As for Gothic: they seem to have some things in common. But Gothic seems invested in more of a repression, being haunted. Lynch I think of as Gothic for example. Freud too.

7:24 AM  
Blogger Danielle said...

Mmm, yeah, the Gothic really polices, teams up on the biopower front. But interesting when people site Gothic as one source of contemporary gurlesque/grotesque work. I think it's a reactionary relationship...because of the self-policing of the gothic--the sheer brilliance of its grotesque moments, which must be followed by a thorough tsk-tsk-tsking that so frustrates (frustrates me, anyhow).

I'm thinking Frankenstein vs Lady Lazarus; Wuthering Heights vs The Time Traveler's Wife. Dracula vs Buffy (made by men, but turning on their fey young women). Do our sympathies lie with the monster? Is the haunting hot?

Glad to have the Davis title. Thanks!


8:04 PM  
Blogger Johannes said...

Yes, I actually think the Gothic can be both fiercly xenophobic (see Dracula or Jekyl & Hyde) or more subversive (Dracula). Plath is often Gothic. But the two overlap a lot for me.

7:47 AM  

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