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EN2L8/EN3L5 Tales of Terror: Gothic and the Short Form

Please note this is a new module for 2022-23 in the process of being finalised, but below is an overview of what to expect.

All reading is indicative until later in the summer term.


Module convenor: Dr Jen Baker J.Baker.5@warwick.ac.uk 

Value: 15 CATS (1 term, 10 weeks)

Contact Hours: weekly 2 hour seminar, 3 x compulsory lectures

Total contact hours: 21 hours.

Module Description

Engaging with a range of "Tales of Terror" from the Anglophone world/ in English translation c.1770 – 1920, this module will introduce you to the relationship between "the Gothic" (in its various meanings) and "the short form" - from the oral and transcribed folktale; to the narrative poem, through to illustrated sensation tales, and to the high-literary Gothic tale. You will encounter tales of the supernatural, of psychological uncertainty, that are uncanny, and which sometimes include visceral horror. As well as strengthening your close-reading skills, this module will enable you to critically evaluate a developing form in its material, historical, visual, and transnational context; enhancing your understanding of the literary networks in which Gothic tales participated, were transcribed, circulated, appropriated, received, reviewed, and theorised. Thinking also about the aesthetics of these works, you will consider why and how the Gothic (whatever that may mean) was a particularly influential mode in the rise of the Short Story.


Principal module aims and outcomes

This module will introduce students to the early and growing trend of short Gothic literary tales in the Anglophone world and in English translation, c.1770 – 1920. As well as strengthening their close-reading skills, this module will enable students to critically evaluate a developing form in its material, historical, visual, and transnational context; enhancing their understanding of the literary networks in which Gothic tales participated, were transcribed, circulated, appropriated, received, reviewed, and theorised, and why the Gothic was a particularly influential mode in the rise of the Short Story. Finally, through independent research, students will be able to formulate original analyses of Gothic tales within specific contexts that demonstrate a comprehension of the tale beyond the page.

• Demonstrate an understanding of the socio-religious and/or oral/literary traditions from which many tales
derived or were influenced by.
• Describe and explain the formal and stylistic characteristics of selected tales and their adaptations and
appropriations produced in the long nineteenth century.
• Demonstrate knowledge of the publication contexts and material forms in which tales were transcribed,
circulated, and experienced over the course of the long nineteenth century.
• Demonstrate an understanding of the Gothic as a fashionable and controversial mode through which social
anxieties were expressed and through which literary experiments were enacted and theories of literary form
were shaped.
• Analyse the Gothic tale’s relationship to notions of nation, gender, and class in terms of authorship and
readership.
• Formulate original arguments to do with an aspect of the module based on independent research (to be
demonstrated through an essay or creative-critical project).
• Demonstrate the ability to critically reflect on the aims, process, and outcomes of their own research.


Assessment overview

Intermediate Years:
1 x 3000 word research essay (70%) which will require students to undertake independent research. You will respond to a set of options based on any aspect of the material you have studied, but must draw on primary texts, archival materials, as well as secondary literature to demonstrate an understanding of the key concepts and contexts covered by the module.
1 x 1000 word critical reflection (30%) on the processes, methodology, resource difficulties, and joys of the research.

Finalists:
1 x 4000 word research essay
(70%) which will require students to undertake independent research on a topic you devise in consultation with the tutor. You must draw on primary texts, archival materials, as well as secondary literature to demonstrate an understanding of the key concepts and contexts covered by the module.
1 x 1000 word critical reflection
(30%) on the processes, methodology, resource difficulties, and joys of the research.


Indicative syllabus

*this is subject to change and will be confirmed in the summer term

Week 1: Gothic and the Short Form

In this introductory week we will perform close readings of a variety of previously unseen Gothic tales (ballads, folklore, ghost stories, horror tales, fragments), drawing on set secondary reading (both contemporaneous and modern) on “the short form” and on “the Gothic” and debates over the difference between “Terror” and “Horror” to tease out the stylistic aspects that characterise these works.

indicative reading:
Scott’s An Apology for Tales of Terror (1799); selections from Matthew Lewis', Tales of Terror and Wonder.
Poe, Edgar Allan. "The Philosophy of Composition" Graham's Magazine, 1846
March-Russell, Paul, “Origins: From Folk-Tale to Art Tale” in The Short Story: An Introduction (2009), pp.1-12.
Baker, Jen. "Introduction: Gothic and the Short Form." Gothic Studies 23.2 (2021): 127-131.

 

Week 2: Nation Building - Folklore, Ballads, and the Gothic Tale

Using a selection of tales, this seminar will discuss the content, collection, and circulation of oral folktales and ballads in the late eighteenth-century to mid nineteenth-century as part of a process of “Nation building” that allowed certain classes to create imagined communities through images of sustained heritage, social morals, and an enriched culture across different classes. We will consider how certain tales were transcribed, adapted and reframed in literary collections and magazines and what message they convey about particular national and cultural ideologies.

Indicative reading:
Grose, Francis. A provincial glossary: with a collection of local proverbs, and popular superstitions. S. Hooper, 1790.
Grimm, Jacob, and Wilhelm Grimm. German popular stories: translated from the Kinder und Haus-Märchen. Vol. 2. Verlag nicht ermittelbar, 1826.Mayo, Herbert. Letters on the truths contained in popular superstitions. JD Sauerlænder, 1849.
Scott, Walter. Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft: Addressed to JG Lockhart, Esq. No. 11. J. & J. Harper, 1830.
Rix, Robert W., “Gothic Gothicism: Norse Terror in the Late Eighteenth to Early Nineteenth Centuries”. Gothic Studies, 13(1), (2011), pp. 1-20.
Naithani, Sadhana, Luisa Del Giudice, and Gerald Porter. "Prefaced Space: Tales of the Colonial British Collectors of Indian Folklore." Imagined States: Nationalism, Utopia, and Longing in Oral Cultures (2001): 64-79.


Week 3: The Gothic Fragment

This session considers the literary Gothic “Fragment” in theory and practice - as it was inserted into and lifted from longer Gothic prose works; haunted the Romantic poets and circulated across national borders and merged with the ballad form.

Indicative reading:
John Aikin, “Sir Bertrand, A Fragment” (1773); PR, R. "Sir Egbert; A Gothic Fragment." The Ladies' museum 4 (1816): 85-88; “Sweet William’s Ghost” and Gottfried August Bürger “Lenore” (1773) [1796 English translation by J.T. Stanley]; M. G. Lewis “Alonzo the Brave, and Fair Imogine”; Byron “A Fragment” (1819); John Polidori, “The Vampyre: A Fragment” New Monthly Magazine (April 1819)

Week 4: Gothic Publishing and Reading - A Workshop

A workshop examining key transatlantic magazines and periodicals in the Gothic genre such as Blackwood’s Magazine, The Lady’s Monthly Magazine and different collected editions, in which we consider the trend for particular typographical layouts, publishing politics, readership etc of Gothic tales using original material editions and digital archives. We will also consider how salons like the Bluestocking circle impacted the Gothic Tale as well as the glut of women-readers of magazines and the panic over audiences for such materials.

Indicative reading:
Robert D. Mayo, "The Gothic short story in the magazines." The Modern Language Review (1942): 448-454.
Potter, Franz. Gothic Chapbooks, Bluebooks, and Shilling Shockers (2019).

 

Week 5: Topographies of Terror: The Haunted House

This week we will use “The Haunted House” to consider how setting is key to Gothic and how the short form exploits this topography as an architectural and metaphorical repository for domestic and imperial anxieties.

Indicative Reading:
Edgar Allan Poe, “The Fall of the House of Usher” Burton's Gentleman's Magazine (1839); Sheridan Le Fanu, “An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street” (1853); Rhoda Broughton “The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth” (1868); Charlotte Riddell, “The Open Door” (1886); E.M. Braddon, “The Shadow in the Corner” (1879); B.M. Croker, “To Let” (1893);


Week 6:
Reading week.

Week 7: The Terror of the Other

Linking back to week 2 and 5 in particular, this seminar considers stories from indigenous writers during the colonial period, tales by Imperial writers set in the colonies, tales of revolution and uprising, and tales which feature Imperial protagonists exploring foreign lands in which they confront terrors imagined, supernatural, and real. We will consider the extent to which these stories are influenced by, challenge, or conform to the ideologies of “Empire”.

Indicative Reading:
Uriah Derick D'Arcy, “The Black Vampyre; A Legend of St Domingo” (1819); Victor Séjour, “The Mulatto” (1837); Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Captain of the Pole-Star” (1883); Florence Marryat, “Little White Souls” (1883); Rudyard Kipling, “The Phantom Rickshaw” (1888); Rabindranath Tagore “The Skeleton” (1892) and “In the Night” (1895); Lafcadio Hearn, “Nightmare-Touch” and “The Corpse Rider” (1900); Barbara Baynton, “The Chosen Vessel” (1902);

Week 8: Illustrating Terror

This week will focus on the visualisation of short Gothic works across various media – paintings, illustrations in books and magazines – as well as the way in which the language helps us visualise terror and horror and the unspeakable.

Indicative Reading:
Grant Allen, “Pallinghurst Barrow” Illustrated London News (1892); Robert Louis Stevenson, “Thrawn Janet” (1881); M.R. James, “A Warning to the Curious” (1904); Mary Wilkins Freeman “The Lost Ghost” (1903)


Week 9: Your Tales of Terror

In this session, students will lead discussion pre-circulated chosen stories that they are considering for their own research essay. Topics may include particular “monsters”, women ghosts, male ghosts, shadows/unseen horrors, objects, medical horror etc.



Week 10: Ghost Stories for Christmas

This week considers the relationship between Ghost Stories and Christmas, how they were marketized and how in turn they helped marketize Christmas, and the social messaging that seems common in such stories.

Indicative Reading:

Walter Scott, “The Tapestried Chamber” The Keepsake Stories (1828); Charles Dickens, “The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton” The Pickwick Papers (1836); Amelia B. Edwards “The Phantom Coach” (1864); Charlotte Riddell “A Strange Christmas Game” (1868) M.R. James, “Oh, Whistle, And I’ll Come to You, My Lad” Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1904);