Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Pleasure and Historical Memory in Spanish Gothic Film

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2019), 96, (4), 397–411.

Abstract

This essay argues that scholars of Spanish culture are too ready to assume a reading of Gothic texts in terms of historical memory, or the rectification of injustices that occurred during the Franco era. It suggests that there has been a neglect of the question of the pleasures of reading or viewing the Gothic, even though these pleasures may well undermine the desire to do retrospective justice to the victims of Franco. Using as a case study the film Insensibles (Juan Carlos Medina, 2012) this essay proposes some examples of pleasures that serve to disrupt the recuperation of historical memory, and calls for better awareness of the pleasures of genre in analysing relevant texts.

Este ensayo sostiene que los que investigan la cultura española adoptan demasiado fácilmente una lectura de textos góticos en términos de la memoria histórica, o sea la rectificación de injusticias que ocurrieron durante la época franquista. Sugiere que se ha olvidado la cuestión de los placeres de leer o ver lo gótico, aunque estos placeres bien que puedan debilitar los esfuerzos de conseguir una justicia retroactiva para las víctimas de Franco. Utilizando como ejemplo el film Insensibles (Juan Carlos Medina, 2012) el ensayo propone unos instantes de placeres que sirven para estorbar la recuperación de la memoria histórica, y exige una percepción más clara de los placeres de género en cuanto al análisis de textos relevantes.

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Works cited

Aldana Reyes, Xavier, 2013. ‘Skin Deep? Surgical Horror and the Impossibility of Becoming Woman in Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In’, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 90.7: 819–34. Google Scholar

Aldana Reyes, Xavier, 2014. Body Gothic: Corporeal Transgression in Contemporary Literature and Horror Film (Cardiff: University of Wales Press). Google Scholar

Archibald, David, 2012. The War That Won’t Die: The Spanish Civil War in History (Manchester: Manchester University Press). Google Scholar

Blake, Linnie, 2008. The Wounds of Nations: Horror Cinema, Historical Trauma and National Identity (Manchester: Manchester University Press). Google Scholar

Clover, Carol J., 1992. Men, Women and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film (London: BFI Publishing). Google Scholar

Colmeiro, José, 2011. ‘A Nation of Ghosts?: Haunting, Historical Memory and Forgetting in Post-Franco Spain’, 452°: Electronic Journal of Theory of Literature and Comparative Literature, 4: 17–24. Available at: >https://www.raco.cat/index.php/452F/article/download/243539/326291> [accessed 19 March 2019]. Google Scholar

Davis, Stuart, 2017. ‘Reading Beyond Cognitive Meaning: Affective Strategies in Novels of the Spanish “Memory Boom”’, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 94.8: 801–815. Google Scholar

Gómez López-Quiñones, Antonio, 2006. La Guerra persistente: memoria, violencia y utopía: representaciones contemporáneas de la Guerra civil española (Madrid y Frankfurt: Iberamericana/Vervuert). Google Scholar

Hills, Matt, 2005. The Pleasures of Horror (London: Bloomsbury). Google Scholar

Labanyi, Jo, 2001. ‘Coming to Terms with the Ghosts of the Past: History and Spectrality in Contemporary Spanish Culture’, Arachne@Rutgers, 1.1. Available at: >http://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/rul/projects/arachne/vol1_1labanyi.html> [accessed 4 February 2019]. Google Scholar

Labanyi, Jo, 2008. ‘The Politics of Memory in Contemporary Spain’, Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, 9.2: 119–25. Google Scholar

Labanyi, Jo, 2010. ‘Doing Things: Emotion, Affect and Materiality’, Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, 11: 223–33. Google Scholar

Lough, Francis, 2017. ‘Ideology, Affect and the Body in Alberto Méndez’s Los girasoles ciegos’, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 94.8: 847–61. Google Scholar

Loureiro, Ángel, 2008. ‘Pathetic Arguments’, Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, 9.2: 225–37. Google Scholar

Lowenstein, Adam, 2005. Shocking Representation: Historical Trauma, National Cinema, and the Modern Horror Film (New York: Columbia University Press). Google Scholar

Marcantonio, Carla, 2015. ‘Cinema, Transgenesis, and History in The Skin I Live In’, Social Text, 33.1: 49–70. Google Scholar

Maroto Camino, 2011. Film, Memory and the Legacy of the Spanish Civil War: Resistance and Guerrilla 1936–2010 (London: Palgrave Macmillan). Google Scholar

Martin, Rebecca E., 1998. ‘“I Should Like to Spend My Whole Life in Reading It”: Repetition and the Pleasure of the Gothic’, Journal of Narrative Technique, 28.1: 75–90. Google Scholar

Modleski, Tania, 1986. ‘The Terror of Pleasure: The Contemporary Horror Film and Postmodern Theory’, in Studies in Entertainment: Critical Approaches to Mass Culture, ed. Tania Modleski (Bloomington: Indiana University Press), pp. 155–66. Google Scholar

Ng, Andrew Hock Soon, 2015. Women and Domestic Space in Contemporary Gothic Narratives: The House as Subject (New York: Palgrave Macmillan). Google Scholar

Punter, David, 1996. The Literature of Terror: A History of Gothic Fictions from 1765 to the Present Day. Vol. 2: The Modern Gothic (Harlow, UK: Longman). Google Scholar

Resina, Joan Ramon, and Ulrich Winter (eds), 2005. Casa encantada: lugares de memoria en la España constitucional (1978–2004) (Frankfurt and Madrid: Vervuert/Iberoamericana). Google Scholar

Ribeiro de Menezes, Alison, 2014. Embodying Memory in Contemporary Spain (New York: Palgrave Macmillan). Google Scholar

Ribeiro de Menezes, Alison, and Stewart King, 2017. ‘Introduction: The Future of Memory in Spain’, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 94.8: 793–99. Google Scholar

Spooner, Catherine, 2017. Post-millennial Gothic: Comedy, Romance and the Rise of Happy Gothic (London: Bloomsbury). Google Scholar

Tarancón, Juan A., 2016. ‘Realism, Social Conflict, and the Rise of Crime Cinema in Spain’, in Global Genres, Local Films: The Transnational Dimension of Spanish Cinema, ed. Elena Oliete-Aldea, Beatrix Oria and Juan A. Tarancón (London: Bloomsbury), pp. 43–60. Google Scholar

Tudor, Andrew, 2002. ‘Why Horror?: The Peculiar Pleasures of a Popular Genre’, in Horror: The Film Reader, ed. Mark Jancovich (Hoboken, NJ: Taylor & Francis), pp. 47–55. Google Scholar

Turvey, Malcolm, 2004. ‘Philosophical Problems Concerning the Concept of Pleasure in Psychoanalytical Theories of (the Horror) Film’, in Horror Film and Psychoanalysis: Freud’s Worst Nightmare, ed. Steven Jay Schneider (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 68–83. Google Scholar

Twitchell, James, 1985. Dreadful Pleasures: An Anatomy of Modern Horror (New York: Oxford University Press). Google Scholar

Warner, Marina, 2014. Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Google Scholar

Winter, Ulrich (ed.), 2006. Lugares de memoria de la Guerra Civil y el franquismo: representaciones literarias y visuales (Madrid and Frankfurt: Iberoamericana/Vervuert). Google Scholar

Aldana Reyes, Xavier, 2013. ‘Skin Deep? Surgical Horror and the Impossibility of Becoming Woman in Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In’, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 90.7: 819–34. Google Scholar

Aldana Reyes, Xavier, 2014. Body Gothic: Corporeal Transgression in Contemporary Literature and Horror Film (Cardiff: University of Wales Press). Google Scholar

Archibald, David, 2012. The War That Won’t Die: The Spanish Civil War in History (Manchester: Manchester University Press). Google Scholar

Blake, Linnie, 2008. The Wounds of Nations: Horror Cinema, Historical Trauma and National Identity (Manchester: Manchester University Press). Google Scholar

Clover, Carol J., 1992. Men, Women and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film (London: BFI Publishing). Google Scholar

Colmeiro, José, 2011. ‘A Nation of Ghosts?: Haunting, Historical Memory and Forgetting in Post-Franco Spain’, 452°: Electronic Journal of Theory of Literature and Comparative Literature, 4: 17–24. Available at: >https://www.raco.cat/index.php/452F/article/download/243539/326291> [accessed 19 March 2019]. Google Scholar

Davis, Stuart, 2017. ‘Reading Beyond Cognitive Meaning: Affective Strategies in Novels of the Spanish “Memory Boom”’, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 94.8: 801–815. Google Scholar

Gómez López-Quiñones, Antonio, 2006. La Guerra persistente: memoria, violencia y utopía: representaciones contemporáneas de la Guerra civil española (Madrid y Frankfurt: Iberamericana/Vervuert). Google Scholar

Hills, Matt, 2005. The Pleasures of Horror (London: Bloomsbury). Google Scholar

Labanyi, Jo, 2001. ‘Coming to Terms with the Ghosts of the Past: History and Spectrality in Contemporary Spanish Culture’, Arachne@Rutgers, 1.1. Available at: >http://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/rul/projects/arachne/vol1_1labanyi.html> [accessed 4 February 2019]. Google Scholar

Labanyi, Jo, 2008. ‘The Politics of Memory in Contemporary Spain’, Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, 9.2: 119–25. Google Scholar

Labanyi, Jo, 2010. ‘Doing Things: Emotion, Affect and Materiality’, Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, 11: 223–33. Google Scholar

Lough, Francis, 2017. ‘Ideology, Affect and the Body in Alberto Méndez’s Los girasoles ciegos’, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 94.8: 847–61. Google Scholar

Loureiro, Ángel, 2008. ‘Pathetic Arguments’, Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, 9.2: 225–37. Google Scholar

Lowenstein, Adam, 2005. Shocking Representation: Historical Trauma, National Cinema, and the Modern Horror Film (New York: Columbia University Press). Google Scholar

Marcantonio, Carla, 2015. ‘Cinema, Transgenesis, and History in The Skin I Live In’, Social Text, 33.1: 49–70. Google Scholar

Maroto Camino, 2011. Film, Memory and the Legacy of the Spanish Civil War: Resistance and Guerrilla 1936–2010 (London: Palgrave Macmillan). Google Scholar

Martin, Rebecca E., 1998. ‘“I Should Like to Spend My Whole Life in Reading It”: Repetition and the Pleasure of the Gothic’, Journal of Narrative Technique, 28.1: 75–90. Google Scholar

Modleski, Tania, 1986. ‘The Terror of Pleasure: The Contemporary Horror Film and Postmodern Theory’, in Studies in Entertainment: Critical Approaches to Mass Culture, ed. Tania Modleski (Bloomington: Indiana University Press), pp. 155–66. Google Scholar

Ng, Andrew Hock Soon, 2015. Women and Domestic Space in Contemporary Gothic Narratives: The House as Subject (New York: Palgrave Macmillan). Google Scholar

Punter, David, 1996. The Literature of Terror: A History of Gothic Fictions from 1765 to the Present Day. Vol. 2: The Modern Gothic (Harlow, UK: Longman). Google Scholar

Resina, Joan Ramon, and Ulrich Winter (eds), 2005. Casa encantada: lugares de memoria en la España constitucional (1978–2004) (Frankfurt and Madrid: Vervuert/Iberoamericana). Google Scholar

Ribeiro de Menezes, Alison, 2014. Embodying Memory in Contemporary Spain (New York: Palgrave Macmillan). Google Scholar

Ribeiro de Menezes, Alison, and Stewart King, 2017. ‘Introduction: The Future of Memory in Spain’, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 94.8: 793–99. Google Scholar

Spooner, Catherine, 2017. Post-millennial Gothic: Comedy, Romance and the Rise of Happy Gothic (London: Bloomsbury). Google Scholar

Tarancón, Juan A., 2016. ‘Realism, Social Conflict, and the Rise of Crime Cinema in Spain’, in Global Genres, Local Films: The Transnational Dimension of Spanish Cinema, ed. Elena Oliete-Aldea, Beatrix Oria and Juan A. Tarancón (London: Bloomsbury), pp. 43–60. Google Scholar

Tudor, Andrew, 2002. ‘Why Horror?: The Peculiar Pleasures of a Popular Genre’, in Horror: The Film Reader, ed. Mark Jancovich (Hoboken, NJ: Taylor & Francis), pp. 47–55. Google Scholar

Turvey, Malcolm, 2004. ‘Philosophical Problems Concerning the Concept of Pleasure in Psychoanalytical Theories of (the Horror) Film’, in Horror Film and Psychoanalysis: Freud’s Worst Nightmare, ed. Steven Jay Schneider (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 68–83. Google Scholar

Twitchell, James, 1985. Dreadful Pleasures: An Anatomy of Modern Horror (New York: Oxford University Press). Google Scholar

Warner, Marina, 2014. Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Google Scholar

Winter, Ulrich (ed.), 2006. Lugares de memoria de la Guerra Civil y el franquismo: representaciones literarias y visuales (Madrid and Frankfurt: Iberoamericana/Vervuert). Google Scholar

Filmography

El espinazo del diablo/The Devil’s Backbone. 2001, dir. Guillermo del Toro (El Deseo). Google Scholar

Insensibles/Painless. 2012, dir. Juan Carlos Medina (Les Filmes d’Antoine; Tobina Film; Fado Filmes). Google Scholar

La piel que habito/The Skin I Live In. 2011, dir. Pedro Almodóvar (Blue Haze Entertainment; Canal+ España; El Deseo). Google Scholar

The Others. 2001, dir. Alejandro Amenábar (Cruise Wagner Productions; Sogecine; Las Productions del Escorpión). Google Scholar

El orfanato/The Orphanage. 2007, dir. J. A. Bayona (Esta Vivo! Laboratorio de Nuevos Talentos; Grupo Rodar). Google Scholar

El espinazo del diablo/The Devil’s Backbone. 2001, dir. Guillermo del Toro (El Deseo). Google Scholar

Insensibles/Painless. 2012, dir. Juan Carlos Medina (Les Filmes d’Antoine; Tobina Film; Fado Filmes). Google Scholar

La piel que habito/The Skin I Live In. 2011, dir. Pedro Almodóvar (Blue Haze Entertainment; Canal+ España; El Deseo). Google Scholar

The Others. 2001, dir. Alejandro Amenábar (Cruise Wagner Productions; Sogecine; Las Productions del Escorpión). Google Scholar

El orfanato/The Orphanage. 2007, dir. J. A. Bayona (Esta Vivo! Laboratorio de Nuevos Talentos; Grupo Rodar). Google Scholar

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