Date of Award
Creative writing, Fiction
Part alternate history, part supernatural folk tale, The Lodger will be a neogothic novel that is heavily influenced by discourses surrounding the concept of the sublime and by ideas of feminist medicine.
Drawing on conventions of Gothic horror, The Lodger will be characterized by supernatural themes, elements of medieval romance, and most importantly, by a pervading atmosphere of “pleasing terror”—a hallmark of the genre first explored by the siblings John and Anna Laeticia Aikin in their essay “The Pleasure Derived from Objects of Terror,” published in 1773. Set in a fictional Vienna plagued by a spate of killings, and focusing on medical experiments that push beyond the confines of the human body and into questions about the human soul, The Lodger is in conversation with such novels as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe.
The Lodger intervenes in the discourse on the sublime by investigating the concept from multiple vantage points. From troubling the Burkian relationship between sublimity and beauty, to exploring Kant’s conceptions of both the mathematical and the dynamic sublime, my aim is to elucidate the sublime from within the confines of a novel that takes the form of a 19th century Gothic pastiche.
Premised on the idea that the sublime retains its power through its inaccessibility, The Lodger explores the territory of the sublime as one marked by the promise and failure of vision. The focus on vision troubles the extent to which the sublime can only exist in a tension between our conception of the noumenal and our experience of the phenomenal. To what extent does our perception of the sublime in fact create it? To this end, I also plan to explore permutations of the sublime within the natural world, the beauty in nature, the terrifying, and the intersection therein. Finally, a focus on mortality, medicine, and religion conjures thematically-related elements as the protagonist casts aside his devotion to the divine for a chance to confront the sublime directly, and with dire consequences.
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Templeman, McCormick, "The Lodger" (2019). Restricted Access ETDs. 92.
Received from author