Leg-of-mutton sleeves, Victorian mourning feathers, stiff, white governess dresses; Harvey’s costumes for her performances on stage and in music video for the three albums White Chalk (2007), Let England Shake (2011) and The Hope Six Demolition Project (2016) position her as English Gothic. Referencing literary and cinematic readings of the term, this article argues that Harvey performs an English, Victorian Gothic. We argue that she recuperates the female Gothic for contemporary times allowing it resonance beyond its literary and cinematic beginnings. Drawing on some of those literary and cinematic debates on the Gothic and the eerie, we consider how her costumes across these albums showcase ‘remnants’ both of the past and, of the forgotten. Harvey stitches those stories into her performances, allowing her to present spectres of both the past and present in the form of the forgotten, excluded and misunderstood.
- English; Gothic; PJ Harvey; Victorian; eerie; femininity; spectre