Screen Gothic

Module code: HA3464
Module co-ordinator: Dr Guy Barefoot

Module Outline

The Gothic novel emerged in the second half of the eighteenth century but the Gothic has also been identified also in later narratives that evoke the architecture and atavistic features that characterise the genre, from Hollywood Gothic to English Gothic Cinema, and Gothic television. In this module we will examine these and other instances of ‘screen Gothic’. Topics include Universal’s horror cycle of the 1930s, 1940s Hollywood and the female Gothic, and the relationship between European and American Gothic cinema. We assess the value of looking at cinema and television in the light of a Gothic tradition, and examine the relationship between screen Gothic and horror, the surreal, the uncanny and the fantastic. Film-makers studied range from James Whale to Jan Svankmajer.

Examples of potential film screenings

1. The Pit and the Pendulum (dir. Corman, 1961) and The Pit and the Pendulum and Hope (dir. Svankmajer, 1984)
2. Vampyr (dir. Dreyer, 1932)
3. The Old Dark House (dir. Whale, 1932)
4. Rebecca (dir. Hitchcock, 1940)
5. The Plague of the Zombies (dir. Gilling, 1966)
6. Daughters of Darkness (dir. Kűmel, 1971)
7. The Shining (dir. Kubrick, 1980)
8. Blue Velvet (dir. Lynch, 1986)
9. Whistle and I’ll Come to You (dir. Miller, 1968) and American Gothic (1995-96)
10. Ginger Snaps (dir. Fawcett, 2000)

Selected Reading

Fred Botting, Gothic (1996)
Brigid Cherry, Horror (2009)
Ken Gelder (ed.), The Horror Reader (2000)
Barry Keith Grant (ed.), Planks of Reason: Essays on the Horror Film (2004)
Helen Hanson, Hollywood Heroines: Women in Film Noir and the Female Gothic (2007)
Gerald E. Hoggle (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction (2006)
Robert K. Martin and Eric Savoy, American Gothic: New Interventions in a National Narrative (2009)
Bernice Murphy, The Suburban Gothic in American Popular Culture (2009)
David Pirie, A New Heritage of Horror: The English Gothic Cinema (2008)
David Punter, The Literature of Terror, 2 Vols (2nd edition, 1996)
Catherine Spooner, Contemporary Gothic (2006)
Catherine Spooner and Emma McAlvoy (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Gothic (2007)
Helen Wheatley, Gothic Television (2006)


  • 10 hours of lectures
  • 10 hours of seminars
  • 20 hours of film screenings
  • 110 hours of guided independent study


  • Literature review, 2,000 words (40%)
  • Essay, 3,000 words (60%)