The Gothic (TRU3024)

30 credits

The wildly diverse range of associations of the word ‘Gothic’ – from an ancient Teutonic race to medieval ecclesiastical architecture to cult horror films to alternative fashion – are all intimately linked, and can best be understood by investigating the chronology of the term. Indeed, the premise of this course is that it is only through historical analysis that the Gothic makes full and coherent sense, and only through historicizing its meanings that its relevance today can be assessed. Too many accounts of the Gothic distort the word, stretching it into a general term for all varieties of transgression, marginality, and ‘otherness’. In contrast to such approaches, this module will seek to clarify rather than blur the ramifications of the Gothic, presenting the Gothic as a narrative with a strong sense of historical continuity. An introductory session will cover 1) the Sack of Rome and 2) medieval architecture. From these foundations, the course will focus on literature from the C17th to the present, and will include film and music.

Following the first week, the module will be led by students specialising in a particular area and presenting pairs or small groups. Depending on student interests, there is likely to be substantial reading for this course, and students should be aware that they are expected to have viewed any films at least twice before the relevant seminar. The course is most suitable for students who have already taken at least one Stage 2 module in English Literature, but should also appeal to those who have taken History or Cultural Geography modules. Students should be aware that several texts studied on this module are extremely graphic in their depiction of violence.