The Abhuman City: Peter Ackroyd's Gothic Historiography of London

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapter

Abstract

Robert Mighall has argued that the Gothic is a mode fundamentally concerned with history and geography (Mighall 2003, xiv). This chapter examines the ways in which the Gothic mode functions in Peter Ackroyd’s trilogy of London histories, London: The Biography; Thames: Sacred River; and London Under. To date, much of the scholarship concerning the Gothic in Ackroyd’s works has tended to focus on analyses of particular novels, while very little has been written with regard to its presence within his historical writing. Within these three companion volumes on London’s history, Ackroyd complicates the relationship between history and geography in the city by engaging with the language and tropes of the Gothic to explore what he believes to be ‘a Gothic genius loci of London fighting against the spirit of the classic’ (Ackroyd 2001, 580). By employing the discourses of monstrosity, spectrality, and the uncanny, Ackroyd anthropomorphically transforms the city into something akin to the abhuman monster of the Gothic mode. In these volumes, he argues that this abhuman London possesses an uncanny form of agency, a kind of spectral consciousness through which the city is able to influence its inhabitants. I will argue that this spectral consciousness is the key to understanding Ackroyd’s Gothic theory of the history of place, his historiography’s fusion of history and geography into a transhistorical palimpsest that is manifested through hauntings, traces, and uncanny returns.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Gothic and the Everyday: Living Gothic
EditorsLorna Piatti-Farnell, Maria Beville
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Chapter4
Pages69-82
ISBN (Print)9781137406637
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

NamePalgrave Gothic
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan UK

Fingerprint

Historiography
Gothic
Peter Ackroyd
History
Spectrality
Geography
Consciousness
Tropes
Haunting
Fusion
Novel
Palimpsest
Trilogy
Historical Writing
Discourse
Locus
Thames
Language
Genius
Monstrosity

Cite this

Prosser, A. (2014). The Abhuman City: Peter Ackroyd's Gothic Historiography of London. In L. Piatti-Farnell, & M. Beville (Eds.), The Gothic and the Everyday: Living Gothic (pp. 69-82). (Palgrave Gothic). United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.
Prosser, Ashleigh. / The Abhuman City: Peter Ackroyd's Gothic Historiography of London. The Gothic and the Everyday: Living Gothic. editor / Lorna Piatti-Farnell ; Maria Beville. United Kingdom : Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. pp. 69-82 (Palgrave Gothic).
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Prosser, A 2014, The Abhuman City: Peter Ackroyd's Gothic Historiography of London. in L Piatti-Farnell & M Beville (eds), The Gothic and the Everyday: Living Gothic. Palgrave Gothic, Palgrave Macmillan, United Kingdom, pp. 69-82.

The Abhuman City: Peter Ackroyd's Gothic Historiography of London. / Prosser, Ashleigh.

The Gothic and the Everyday: Living Gothic. ed. / Lorna Piatti-Farnell; Maria Beville. United Kingdom : Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. p. 69-82 (Palgrave Gothic).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapter

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BT - The Gothic and the Everyday: Living Gothic

A2 - Piatti-Farnell, Lorna

A2 - Beville, Maria

PB - Palgrave Macmillan

CY - United Kingdom

ER -

Prosser A. The Abhuman City: Peter Ackroyd's Gothic Historiography of London. In Piatti-Farnell L, Beville M, editors, The Gothic and the Everyday: Living Gothic. United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan. 2014. p. 69-82. (Palgrave Gothic).