Written By Jared Lynch
In the introduction to her book Gothic Hauntings: Melancholy Crypts and Textual Ghosts, Christine Berthin discusses the findings of French psychoanalysts Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok. They explain that when haunting is transgenerational, it “takes the shape of a secret transmitted within a family or a community without being stated because it is associated with repressed guilt, shame or is the result of a trauma that has not been worked through” (4). When the ghost is transferred, it becomes “a lost object to the unconscious of the child, the living subject or ‘phantom carrier’” (4). This transgenerational concept of haunting is evident in Maxine Hong Kingston’s chilling essay “No Name Woman” in which Kingston learns from her mother that her father had a sister who had committed suicide after bringing shame to her family. Kingston’s mother tells her, “‘We say that your father has all brothers because it is as if she had never been born’” (2704). This transference of the No Name Woman’s story from mother to daughter marks the inheritance and continuation of a repressed specter, and Kingston becomes a “phantom carrier.”
Written By Elizabeth Palmer
Sigmund Freud writes that the uncanny is a distinct “class of…frightening which leads back to what is known of old and long familiar.” He goes on to rhetorically ask how it is “possible…[for] the familiar [to] become uncanny and frightening.” What frightens us most are the things which we can almost recognize. Sometimes, that almost recognizable thing is memory. In Toni Morrison’s Beloved, the word “rememory” is used when the main character, Sethe, recalls moments that have been forgotten. She is faced with these uncanny re-memories—moments that are not quite familiar because they have been tucked away for so long—and at their sudden manifestation, becomes haunted by their existence.
Written by Brittany Means
Spook (2005) by Mary Roach is a detailed investigation into cultural attitudes toward the idea of the afterlife. In her other books, such as Bonk (2008) and Stiff (2003), Roach takes a scientific approach to the subjects of sex and the life of cadavers, respectively. Spook is no different, which Roach conveys in the introduction when she writes, “[T]his is a book for people who would like very much to believe in a soul and in an afterlife for it to hang around in, but who have trouble accepting these things on faith” (14).