About this course

This course explores the Gothic tradition that spans the late Romantic and Victorian eras: tales of the supernatural and the startling, of ghosts, doubles and dark science. Using a range of critical approaches we will explore the inheritances of the eighteenth-century Gothic, its Victorian descendent 'the sensation novel' and early detective fiction. How did the writing of excess and restraint become an enduring genre, capable of articulating the period's most profound anxieties and desires, on issues such as society, modernity, sex and empire?

Material covered ranges from the Gothic revival sparked by Horace Walpole, through to more psychological explorations of power and tyranny, from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) to Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897). Texts by Matthew Lewis, Wilkie Collins, George Eliot, Oscar Wilde, and Robert Louis Stevenson are also studied. Each will be examined in its cultural context, and close attention paid to the rhetorical devices by which it engenders fear and anxiety in the reader.

The study trip takes us to London's most gothic cemetery at Highgate, and to Walpole's extraordinary house at Strawberry Hill.


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