No Ruins. No Ghosts.
Abstract

This article explores anxieties about the unhauntability of the landscapes of New World, expressed in the aphorism "No Ruins. No Ghosts." I argue first that ruins have material agency and produce destabilizing affects affording the imagination of haunting anthropomorphic figures to animate the landscape. For settler colonials in both North America and Australia, the absence of homely haunted "picturesque" ruins in the "sublime wilderness" of the New World becomes a diagnostic predicament of both folkloric and literary narratives, speaking to a broader colonial anxiety of "unsettlement." In the final sections I explore how Americans fashioned new kinds of ruin and new forms of haunting, including imagined sublime ruins of vast age that predate European settlement. In these imagined ruins I see the genesis of an aesthetics of haunting materially inspired by New World landscapes: the aesthetics of the American weird tale.


pdf