Late Victorian Gothic: Texts and Contexts

Module code: EN3128

Module co-ordinator: Professor Gowan Dawson

Although the genre of supernatural fiction known as 'Gothic' first came to prominence in the late 18th century, its preoccupations with transgression, terror and taboos, as well as its opposition to standard forms of realism, have re-emerged at various times over the last 200 years. 

In this module we will consider the resurgence of Gothic themes and narrative strategies in fiction from the final decades of the 19th century, examining how this distinctively Victorian form of the Gothic was related to the social, political and intellectual anxieties of the fin-de-siècle period. We will look in particular at issues such as gender, race, urbanism and identity. We will compare late Victorian Gothic writing with both earlier and later manifestations of the genre, including the re-writing of 19th century Gothic conventions in contemporary cinema.

The principal focus of the course will be on novels and short stories from the period 1885-1902, but we will also consider one earlier Gothic novel and a modern film along with a wide range of contextual material. 

Topics covered

  • Hogg, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824)
  • Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886)
  • Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)
  • Du Maurier, Trilby (1894)
  • Wells, The Island of Dr Moreau (1896)
  • Stoker, Dracula (1897)
  • James, The Turn of the Screw and Other Ghost Stories (1898)
  • Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902)
  • Mary Reilly (film directed by Stephen Frears, 1995)

Learning

  • 20 one-hour seminars

Assessment

  • Essay, 5,000 words (100%)