Joshua B. Tuttle
Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building
Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building
Fall 2023 Office HoursT/TR 10:30 - 11:30 AM W 2:00 - 3:00 PM
I am interested in "spooky literature," considered broadly. This includes Gothic literature and its emergence out of the early modern period, ghost stories, weird fiction, horror literature, and folklore.
My dissertation, “Excavating the Castle: Toward a New Historiography of the Gothic,” is a work of literary history, dealing primarily with the early nineteenth-century scholarly attention paid to the Gothic novel that has almost entirely escaped the notice of scholars of the Gothic for more than a century. The Gothic is now a major field in literary and cultural studies: it is ubiquitous across genres and periods, and most canonical American and British authors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries dabbled in it. It crosses not only the Atlantic, but is in fact a global tradition, both within and beyond the Anglophone. As an established academic field, it recently received its final mark of mainstream legitimacy with its own three-volume Cambridge History. Remarkably, however, the field has yet to receive a full account of its origins: my dissertation is the first project to seriously test the longstanding, oft-repeated founding myth of Gothic Studies, which holds that the Gothic was not a recognized or valued critical category prior to the pioneering histories of the Gothic that appeared in the early twentieth century, and which founded modern Gothic Studies as we know it.
“Excavating the Castle” explores the reception of the Gothic through various major historiographic consolidation points such as major literary histories, encyclopedias, and dictionaries, charting the rise in awareness of the Gothic in these classes of knowledge products as early as 1812, its solidification as a critical category by the mid-nineteenth-century, disappearance in the late nineteenth century, and its familiar emergence in the twentieth century, which, my project demonstrates, is in fact a re-emergence. The careful study of these consolidation points reveals that this lost critical awareness and appreciation, while certainly subject to the historical forces of the period, is also a very human story, progressing in slow motion as individual editors in long-running series of knowledge-products clash and eventually overtake one another in authority. Beyond charting an as-yet untold narrative, my project gives a close-in view to the processes by which our understanding of the past develops.
My theoretical articulation of the "Spooky" in terms of form, affect, and function in horror literature, as distinct from the registers of fear, terror, the eerie, etc., was recently published in the Journal for the Fantastic in the Arts as "Dancing in the Ruins: Toward an Affect-Narratology of the Spooky."
I also run an informal reading group called The Spooky Society. Sometimes I post meeting notes, Spooky Things I find interesting, reviews, or generic musings on our website (www.spookyscarysociety.com). (I don't post much these days, but meetings have resumed as of 2023.)
I believe that university life requires that people with diverse viewpoints and perspectives encounter each other in an environment where they feel free to speak up and challenge each other. I am concerned that many academic fields and universities currently lack sufficient viewpoint diversity. I support viewpoint diversity, mutual understanding, and constructive disagreement in my academic field, my institution, my department, and my classroom.
Areas of Specialization
History of knowledge transmission through consolidated knowledge-products such as dictionaries and encyclopedias, particularly long-running series whose run extends across multiple editors.