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

Any students needing information pertaining to the 15 CAT version EN2L8/3L5 from 2022-23 can click hereLink opens in a new window or visit the moodle page for that course/year.

Anyone taking the 30 CAT version from 2023/24 should visit the moodle page for that course/year.

For those interested in taking the 30 CAT 2024-25 version:

  • 1.5 hour seminars for 17 weeks (one reading week per term) PLUS One 2 hour library-based workshop in Term 1
    It will be an extra 30 mins added on the usual slot (i.e. if class is 9.30-11 this workshop will be 9-11, or if 1-2.30pm it would be 1-3pm and so on), but you will need to check for timetable clashes when devising your schedule in Sept)
  • 8 lectures - four per term (again you will need to check for timetable clashes).
  • PLEASE NOTE that ECLS modules, including this one, start in WEEK 1.
  • The syllabus for 2024-25 will be available ON MOODLE, to which you will be added at the start of the new term - but Summer Reading in preparation for the first few weeks will be available below on this webpage towards the end of term 3.

Some highlights from module feedback on what had the most impact on your learning:

"I really took a lot from how focused the various different weeks were on a particular topic/theme, made every week feel important and different. I really took away a lot from learning about eco & colonial Gothic in particular, as well as just learning about the origins and development of the Gothic short form more broadly from folkloric tradition to publication in the periodicals."

"Seminar discussions are productive and informative, and delivered in a supportive environment."

"The Library Workshop with the periodicals. It was the first time I had done something like that and added a new skill."

"This module has been really useful in helping me understand more about the Gothic genre within the 19th century as well as how the gothic developed within the short form of stories, poems, etc. I've really enjoyed the module and its something I would love to continue pursue learning in the future. I especially really enjoyed the use of theoretical texts to support our understanding of fictional texts throughout the year. I also really enjoyed the diverse range of topics studied in relation to the Gothic i.e. the weeks done on topographies, colonial gothic, queer gothic were all really engaging in terms of reading and discussions in the seminar"

"The theory that speaks on topics of production, translation and anthologies was particularly helpful in expanding my own criticism and applied well to other modules."

" I really enjoyed all the content and I feel there was a good balance between all the seminars, so much was covered that one is bound to find a week they would love to work on. Seminars were organised in the best way possible as well. The only thing that would have been nice, would be to have even more of it in Term 3!"

Module convenor: Dr Jen Baker 

Office Hours 2024-25: TBC. Sign-up here:

Seminar Times

Value: 30 CATS

Module Description

Engaging with a range of "Tales of Terror" from the Anglophone world/ in English translation in the long nineteenth century 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; the literary ballad; to the narrative poem, through to illustrated sensation tales and to the high-literary Gothic tale and the non-fiction tales and contexts with which they intersected. 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. Material and print cultures and the modes and effects of changing publication contexts will be a key component throughout. 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.

Learning outcomes
  • 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 and how the rise of the anthology reshapes the tales in our own time.
  • 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 2024-25

The assessments will test your ability to perform comprehensive and thorough examples of some or all of the following: critical Close reading; analysis of genre, form, and style; capacity to understand, judge, compare, and employ different critical approaches; Comparative and close analysis, research, and the formulation of original and informed arguments.

Intermediate Assessment:

Close Reading 1200 words (15%)
Practical and Critical Reflection 1500 words (25%)
Critical Anthology or Analysis 1300 words (20%)
Independent Research Essay 3000 words (40%)

Finalists Assessment

Close Reading 1200 words (15%)
Practical and Critical Reflection 1500 words (25%)
Critical Anthology or Analysis 1300 words (20%)
Independent Research Essay 4000 words (40%)

Exchange students with us for the full academic year will adhere to the same assessment methods detailed above according to the module code assigned to them (if unsure, email Exchange students with us for one term only, will submit a 2,000 word independent research essay on the last Tuesday of the term they complete.

Summer Reading / Books to Acquire for 2024-25

Will be updated by end of Term 3