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EN930 Nineteenth-Century Gothic

Dr Jen Baker

Seminars: Term 1, Timings TBC (possibly Weds 10-12)

Assessment: TBC

Course handbook: [To be uploaded soon]


tales of wonder


Gothic is marked by uncertainties about power, law, class, gender, sexuality and religion, linked as they are to wider apprehension regarding political and religious revolutions of the period. Such revolution was perceived as leading to a new progressive, secular and enlightenment society, and yet this change carried with it a shadowy underside that materialised in Gothic literature as the supernatural and visionary. Imaginative excess, mental trauma, spiritual transgression, grotesque bodies, and tortured forms of desire are both housed in, and the catalysts for, the emerging spectral landscapes of some familiar, and some less familiar, British Gothic novels, short stories, dramas, and some poetry of the nineteenth century in conjunction with other artistic and cultural forms. Yet, as students on this module will explore, as much as the Gothic is about fears and anxieties, it is also a multifaceted, hybrid form that is governed by aesthetic agendas and preoccupations.

**Note: Some of the shorter texts will be provided as print-outs, but many of these texts will need to be purchased (or will be available in the library) - where this is the case, I have provided to the link to the specified edition.

There will be required secondary reading each week. This will be updated before the start of term.

Summer Preparation - I strongly recommend acquainting yourself with more general introductions to various ideas about what "the Gothic" is (not just C19th, but as a genre, and theoretical mode), by looking at reading companions such as The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction, edited by Jerrold E. Hogle or Gothic: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies, edited by Fred Botting and Dale Townshend. You may wish to read or purchase OUP's The Gothic: A Very Short Introduction by Nick Groom to refer to throughout the course.


Seminar Schedule 2018/19

Week 1: What is Gothic?
A selection of primary cultural sources and secondary critical theories

Week 2: The Anatomy of Terror
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818) [we will be reading the 1818 not the 1831 edn.]

Week 3: Penny Bloods and Urban Horror
Sweeney Todd, or; the String of Pearls: A Romance (1846-7) [despite Johnny Depp , this is a reproduction of the original. Also in library]

Week 4: Adapting and Staging the Gothic
Nautical Gothic texts - to be distributed 

Week 5: New Sensations
Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (1859)

Week 6: Conversations with Dead People
George Eliot, "The Lifted Veil" (1859) [any edition accepted]
Margaret Oliphant, "A Beleaguered City" (1880)

Week 7: Tales of Terror (these choices are still in progress, but an indication is given here - they will be provided)
Walter Scott, “The Tapestried Chamber” (1829)
Sheridan Le Fanu, “An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street” (1851)
Elizabeth Gaskell, “The Old Nurse's Story” (1852),
Charles Dickens and co., “The Haunted House” (1859)
Mary E. Braddon, "The Shadow in the Corner" (1879)
B.M. Croker, “To Let” (1893)

R.L. Stevenson,"Thrawn Janet" (1881)
Rudyard Kipling, "The Mark of the Beast" (1890)
Arthur Conan Doyle, "Lot 249" (1892)

Week 8: Queer Faustian Doubles
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

Week 9: Disease and Desire
Florence Marryat, The Blood of the Vampire (1897) [Victorian Secrets recommended, but any edition accepted]

Week 10: Invasion Gothic
H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds (1898)


Learning Objectives and Outcomes:
1. Demonstrate a detailed and advanced knowledge about the historical contexts that gave rise to this particular literary and artistic genre;
2. Demonstrate a critical understanding of some of the key themes, topics, and debates that emerge in different kinds of gothic narratives produced in the long nineteenth century.
3. Engage in significant critical debates surrounding such issues as gender, political rights, the nature of the human, the relationship between mind and body, questions of scientific and ethical progress;
4. Demonstrate an advanced ability to analyse the literary, cultural, and artistic narratives of an earlier era to relate aesthetic concerns and modes of expression to its historical context;
5. Demonstrate an advanced ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to literary and visual texts.

Skills acquired
• Students will participate and sometimes lead seminar work and presentations, demonstrate advanced communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and in groups;
• Through essay-writing, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, an advanced capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose;
• Through research for seminars, essays, and presentations demonstrate advanced proficiency in information retrieval and analysis.