Gothic

Module code: EN2131

Gothic is a cultural movement exploring everything that is ‘Other’ to the norms of mainstream society. Gothic deals in the clashes between daylight and darkness; reason, terror and desire; the natural and the supernatural; established religion and superstition, magic and the occult. On this module you will be studying novels which, in different ways, remove us from the ordinary world. Their settings are castles, abbeys, dungeons and remote mountainous landscapes. Their characters quickly descend into situations where supernatural events, violence, and extreme terrors and desires are the new norms. The plots of these novels pitch good against evil, but with more attention to evil, arguably, than any other genre of literature. In doing so gothic novels re-imagine, in fantasy scenarios, the real-life situations of their readers – for example the social subjugation and resistance of women, or simply the experience of being different. Over the course of this module, you will be invited to read, think and write about key works of gothic literature. Our focus on this module will be on the first stirrings of Gothic in the 18th and 19th centuries, including the original gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, The Monk, by Matthew Lewis, and a range of examples of Female Gothic including Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. We will also look at a more recent collection of gothic stories, Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber.