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Labyrinths of Conjecture: The Gothic Elsewhere in Jane Austen's Emma

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In recent criticism, Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey has been reconsidered as a comic rather than mock-Gothic novel, shifting its mockery onto a variety of other targets: domineering men, unwary readers, the violence underpinning English domesticity. I argue that Austen continues her engagement with the Gothic, beyond Northanger Abbey, using Emma as an exemplary case. Emma not only includes explicit mentions of Gothic novels such as Ann Radcliffe's The Romance of the Forest, but implicitly reformulates the relationships between Female Gothic figures: finding a frail, victimised heroine in Jane Fairfax and a seductive femme fatale in Emma herself.
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Keywords: Ann Radcliffe; Emma; Female Gothic; Jane Austen; fancy; imagination; reason

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Edge Hill University

Publication date: 01 May 2016

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  • The official journal of the International Gothic Association considers the field of Gothic studies from the eighteenth century to the present day. The aim of Gothic Studies is not merely to open a forum for dialogue and cultural criticism, but to provide a specialist journal for scholars working in a field which is today taught or researched in almost all academic establishments. Gothic Studies invites contributions from scholars working within any period of the Gothic; interdisciplinary scholarship is especially welcome, as are readings in the media and beyond the written word.

    Gothic Studies is also available in an unrivalled electronic collection, Manchester Gothic that also includes 40 eBooks on gothic literature and culture written by leading names in the field and covers literature, film, television, theatre and visual arts, dating from the eighteenth century to the present day.

    Manchester Gothic aims to explain why gothic studies is so prevalent in the fields of art, film, literature and culture by providing easy access to digital texts, essays and studies in all things gothic. From the study of gothic and death to monsters, vampires, werewolves and ghosts as well as studies on visionaries such as Terry Gilliam, Alan Moore and Terence Fisher; Manchester Gothic brings them all together in one easy to use resource see Manchester Gothic.
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