The Gothic (TRU3024)

StaffProfessor Nick Groom - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesAt least one stage 2 module from TRU 2006/10/11/12
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module enables you to:

  • Develop skills of critical analysis in historical and political contexts across a wide range of texts and in different media, with an emphasis on independent learning and research projects (for both essays and presentations you are encouraged to pursue your own research interests)
  • Work on a practical assignment pitched at a particular market (such as planning a film festival, museum exhibition, literary trail, or designing a mobile ’phone app)

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate informed appreciation of the nature, history, concepts, and media of the Gothic
  • 2. Demonstrate informed appreciation of specific works of Gothic literature and film
  • 3. Demonstrate an informed appreciation of the relation between literature and film and the important historical, intellectual, and technological developments of different historical periods
  • 4. Understand the adaptation of specific literary works into film and other media of mass culture

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Analyse the literature (and film) of an earlier era and to relate its concerns and its modes of expression to its historical context and to contemporary culture
  • 6. Interrelate texts and discourses specific to their own discipline with issues in the wider context of cultural and intellectual history
  • 7. Understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to literary texts

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. Demonstrate communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and in groups
  • 9. Demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, a capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose
  • 10. Demonstrate proficiency in information retrieval and analysis

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics with particular texts will be selected in the first week by students

  • Introduction: The Sack of Rome (Jordanes; Tacitus, trans. Aikin) [pdf texts]; ecclesiastical medieval architecture; Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (extracts); Shakespeare, Hamlet (extracts)
  • Political Gothic: texts may include ‘Graveyard’ poetry and/or Walpole, The Castle of Otranto; alternatively the Gothic Revival of Pugin and Ruskin
  • Early Female Gothic: texts may include Radcliffe, The Italian; and/or Dacre, Zofloya, or The Moor
  • Horror: depending what has been studied on earlier modules, texts may include de Sade, Justine; Lewis, The Monk; and/or Shelley, Frankenstein
  • Vampires: depending what has been studied on earlier modules, texts may include Stoker, Dracula; and/or short stories
  • Ghosts and Haunting: texts may include extracts from Marx and Freud, and stories by Henry James and/or M. R. James
  • American Gothic: texts may include stories by Poe and/or Lovecraft; and/or films
  • Censorship: texts may include Freaks (film); J.G. Ballard, Crash; and/or Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho
  • Contemporary Sexuality: texts may include Carter, The Bloody Chamber; Brite, Exquisite Corpse; Irréversible (film)
  • Contemporary Race: texts may include Morrison, Beloved; Kenan, A Visitation of Spirits
  • Goth Culture: texts may include Nick Cave, Murder Ballads (music); Simon Armitage, Black Roses; and/or The Crow and Black Swan (films)

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching11Lecture (11 x 1 hour)
Scheduled learning and teaching22Seminar (11 x 2 hours)
Guided independent study256Private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Individual presentation10 minutes1-8Oral and peer assessment
Group presentation/debate10 minutes1-8Oral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay251500 words1-7, 9-10Coversheet (written) and oral
Heritage Project251500 words1-7, 9-10Coversheet (written) and oral
Essay503000 words1-7, 9-10Coversheet (written) and oral

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay251-7, 9-10Referral/Deferral period
Heritage projects251-7, 9-10Referral/Deferral period
Essay501-7, 9-10Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment. 

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Indicative basic reading list (try Amazon secondhand or Abebooks online – don’t order as a ‘print on demand’ or facsimile – these are often both expensive and unreliable): 

We will agree on the precise texts in advance, but students may wish to prepare by reading the primary texts suggested above. Use editions published by Oxford World’s Classics where available.

PDFs will be provided of material that is difficult to obtain.

 Secondary Reading (rated: 1-5 stars)

  • Clive Bloom, Gothic Histories (Continuum, 2010) *
  • Fred Botting, Gothic (Routledge, 1995) **
  • Chris Brooks, The Gothic Revival (Phaidon, 1999) *****
  • Dani Cavallaro, The Gothic Vision: Three Centuries of Horror, Terror and Fear (Continuum, 2002) **
  • Richard Davenport-Hines, Gothic: 400 Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin (Fourth Estate, 1998) ****
  • Nick Groom. The Gothic: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2012) *****!
  • David Punter (ed.), A New Companion to the Gothic (Blackwell, 2012) ****
  • David Punter and Glennis Byron, The Gothic (Blackwell, 2004) ***
  • David Stevens, The Gothic Tradition (CUP, 2000) *
  • Andrew Smith, Gothic Literature (Edinburgh UP, 2013) ***
  • Glennis Byron and Dale Townshend (eds), The Gothic World (Routledge, 2013) ****

Suggested Anthologies

  • The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales, ed. Chris Baldick (Oxford, 2009) : includes Poe, ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’; Lovecraft, ‘The Outsider’

Further Reading

  • Gavin Baddeley, Goth Chic (Plexus, 2002)
  • John Baker (ed.), The Art of Nick Cave (Intellect, 2013)
  • Tom Duggett, Gothic Romanticism: Architecture, Politics, and Literary Form (Palgrave, 2010)
  • Lauren Goodlad, et al (eds), Goth: Undead Subculture (Duke, 2007)
  • Graham Harman, Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy (Zero, 2012)
  • Michel Houellebecq, H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life (Gollancz, 2008)
  • Paul Hodgkinson, Goth: Identity, Style and Subculture (Berg, 2002)
  • Roger Luckhurst, The Trauma Question (Routledge, 2008)
  • James Malcolm Rymer, Varney, the Vampyre (Wordsworth, 2010)
  • Carol Siegel, Goth’s Dark Empire (Indiana, 2005)
  • Catherine Spooner, Contemporary Gothic (Reaktion, 2006)
  • Eugene Thacker, In the Dust of This Planet (Zero, 2011)
  • Eugene Thacker, Starry Speculative Corpse (Zero, 2015)
  • Eugene Thacker, Tentacles Longer Than Night (Zero, 2015)
  • Dylan Trigg, The Thing (Zero, 2014)

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Other resources:

  • The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, dir. Robert Wiene (1920)
  • Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, dir. F.W. Murnau (1922)
  • Freaks, dir. Tod Browning (1932)
  • The Exorcist, dir. William Friedkin (1973)
  • Gothic, dir. Ken Russell (1986)
  • The Blair Witch Project, dir. Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez (1999)

Secondary Music:

  • Bauhaus, ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ (1979)
  • Sisters of Mercy, ‘Temple of Love’ (1983)
  • Fields of the Nephilim, ‘Dawnrazor’ (1987)
  • Rudimentary Peni, Cacophony (1988)
  • Nox Arcana, Necronomicon (2004)

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Gothic, terror, horror, ghosts, vampires, werewolves