Gothic Invasions

Imperialism, War and Fin-de-Siècle Popular Fiction

Author(s) Ailise Bulfin

Language: English

Genre(s): Literary Criticism

Series: Gothic Literary Studies

  • March 2018 · 288 pages ·216x138mm

  • · Hardback - 9781786832092
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781786832108
  • · eBook - epub - 9781786832115

About The Book

What do tales of stalking vampires, restless Egyptian mummies, foreign master criminals, barbarian Eastern hordes and stomping Prussian soldiers have in common? As Gothic Invasions explains, they may all be seen as instances of invasion fiction, a paranoid fin-de-siècle popular literary phenomenon that responded to prevalent societal fears of the invasion of Britain by an array of hostile foreign forces in the period before the First World War. Gothic Invasions traces the roots of invasion anxiety to concerns about the downside of Britain’s continuing imperial expansion: fears of growing inter-European rivalry and colonial wars and rebellion. It explores how these fears circulated across the British empire and were expressed in fictional narratives drawing strongly upon and reciprocally transforming the conventions and themes of gothic writing. Gothic Invasions enhances our understanding of the interchange between popular culture and politics at this crucial historical juncture, and demonstrates the instrumentality of the ever-versatile and politically-charged gothic mode in this process.


‘Meticulously researched and impressively theorised, Ailise Bulfin’s brilliant study takes us deeper than we have ever been into the paranoid imagination of the British Empire at its fin-de-siècle zenith, showing the extraordinary interplay of imperial geopolitics and popular culture in the decades leading up to the First World War. Bulfin’s work offers crucial insight into the development of popular genre fiction at this time, deepening our understanding of familiar writers such as Bram Stoker, Conan Doyle, and Rudyard Kipling, and making a fascinating case for the contemporary significance of marginal cultural figures such as Guy Boothby, M. P. Shiel or William Le Queux.’
-Professor Darryl Jones, Trinity College, Dublin

‘Elegantly written and spanning tales of horror, invasion, crime, intrigue and imperial derring-do, Ailise Bulfin's book provides the fullest study to date of the nightmares, fantasies and fears that kept the late-Victorian and Edwardian reading public awake at night. This is an invaluable work for all those interested in the intersections between fiction, history and popular culture.’

-Professor Antony Taylor, Sheffield Hallam University

‘[I]ts scope and originality make Gothic Invasions stand out... Bulfin... does an excellent job in expanding the definition of imperial gothic to include military invasion texts... [and] convincingly connects the gothic elements of pre-war literature and the atrocity propaganda of the First World War... Gothic Invasions presents a very convincing case for seeing the fear of invasion as both more widespread and more influential than previously thought. As such, the book is an important addition to the scholarship, and it stands head and shoulders above many earlier attempts to catalogue and analyse invasion in fiction in this period.'
- Review by Christian K Melby, King’s College London, in the Nations and Nationalism Journal

'This volume clearly speaks to the contemporary twenty-first century moment, one of militancy, geopolitical unrest, and Gothic paranoia in a re-inscribed transnational sphere.'
- Review in The Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts.

'This volume clearly speaks to the contemporary twenty-first century moment, one of militancy, geopolitical unrest, and Gothic paranoia in a re-inscribed transnational sphere. Thus, Bulfin’s book-length study of Victorian and Edwardian invasion hysteria draws an insightful line between popular culture and popular fear in speculative fictions of the fin-de-siècle, and it is a welcome addition to any scholarly shelf, or library catalogue, of Gothic history, empire, and war chronicle.'
- Review in The Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts.

'As a leader in her own scholarly context, therefore, Bulfin is well-qualified to take the analysis of invasion fiction much further and does so admirably. Taking a British as well as a more global perspective and cutting across different genres, she demonstrates how gender and social anxieties and geopolitical fears of invasion could be deployed by different political persuasions for different purposes.'
- Victorian Periodicals review


List of Illustrations
Introduction: The Call to Arms
Section I: Gothic Fictions of Empire
Chapter 1: Gothic Invasions from the East and West Indies: Vampires, Mesmerists and Other Demons
Chapter 2: Gothic Invasions from Egypt: Mummies and Curses
Section II: Genre and Gothic Invasion
Chapter 3: Crime Fiction: Mephistophelean Master Criminals
Chapter 4: Yellow Peril Fiction: Villainous Celestials
Chapter 5: Military Invasion Tales: Brutish Europeans and Gothic Battlefields
Afterword: ‘To Arms!’ in Earnest
Select Bibliography

About the Author(s)

Author(s): Ailise Bulfin

Ailise Bulfin lectures in Victorian and Modern English Literature in the School of English, Drama and Film at University College Dublin, and is a former Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at Trinity College Dublin.

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