“the ghost functions as the paradigmatic deconstructive gesture”


In her analysis of certain Gothic elements of Harry Potter, June Cummins refers us to recent critics who “see ghostly presences in literature as disruptive and thus subversive.” (p.190) Cummins quotes Jeffrey Weinstock by way of an example: “Neither living nor dead, present nor absent, the ghost functions as the paradigmatic deconstructive gesture, the ‘shadowy third’ or trace of an absence that undermines the fixedness of…binary oppositions.” (cited p.190 Cummins)

Cummins also draws on Judith Wilt who writes: “The Gothic always blurs or even dissolves the boundary between life and death. …The special contribution of the Gothic to this enterprise, as a stable genre of its own, is the creative domain of the undead, the should-be-dead-but-isn’t, the [-p.189] never-was-alive-but-is, the looks-alive-but-isn’t.” (cited pp.187-189 Cummins)

Ref: (emphases in blue bold, mine) June Cummins ‘Hermione in the Bathroom: The Gothic, Menarche, and Female Development in the Harry Potter Series’ pp.177-193 Eds. Anna Jackson, Karen Coats and Roderick McGillis (c2008) The Gothic in Children’s Literature: Haunting the Borders. Routledge: New York

Reference is to: p.4 Jeffrey Weinstock (2004) The spectral turn; Introduction. In J. Weinstock (Ed.), Spectral America: Phantoms and the National Imagination (pp.3-17). Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.

p.41 Judith Wilt (2003) ‘And still he insists he sees the ghosts’: Defining the gothic. In. DL Hoeveler and T Heller (Eds), Approaches to Teaching Gothic Fiction: The British and American Traditions (pp. 39-45). New York: Modern Language Association of America.


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