Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Christopher Keep


This dissertation explores the varied phenomena of “automatic writing” in Victorian Gothic fiction, reading the genre’s fascination with the irrepressible signifying practices of the body in light of the medical, criminological and scientific discourses that underwrite the “scriptural economy” of the late nineteenth century with their own arsenal of automatic writing machines. I have titled the project "Graphomania," and I consider the term a keyword of late-Victorian culture—one that names a distinctly Victorian pathology of compulsive writing, but that alludes also to the widespread epistemic hope that writing could render objectively the internal and subjective experiences of individuals.

In a chapter devoted to Victorian graphomania and the three studies that follow (graphology in Jekyll and Hyde, retinal photography in The Beetle, and phonography in Dracula), the project is particularly interested in convergences and correspondences between graphical machines and human bodies. In this study, Victorian technology and Gothic literature emerge as twin registers of the divided self, joined in their shared strategy of externalizing conflicts traditionally understood as invisible processes, but also in the consequent tendency of each uncanny text to expose its ghostly remainders and excesses in the process of trying to contain them.