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ENGL 423: Contemporary Gothic: text and screen

This module addresses the ways that contemporary literature, film and television engage with the Gothic literary tradition. Focusing specifically on texts produced since 2000, it explores the continuing relevance of Gothic in contemporary culture. The module aims to demonstrate the diversity and increasing hybridity of contemporary Gothic and with this in mind, enquires what happens when Gothic cross-fertilises a range of other modes and genres including musical, soap opera, noir, documentary, comedy, science fiction and the historical novel. It examines how traditional Gothic personae from vampires and ghosts to guilty fathers and disturbed children may find new life in the twenty-first century, and how traditional Gothic spaces from the haunted house to the fairground may be refigured in postmodern British and American culture. Finally, it reflects on what critics mean when they talk about Gothic and the ways in which the term is put to work in both popular media and in academic criticism. The self-reflexively uncanny properties of books, films, DVDs and other media will be a central feature of many of the texts under discussion, foregrounding the echoes and continuities between Gothic and postmodern fictional forms.

Each seminar will be based around two parallel strands, covering literature and television/film from 2000 to the present day. Screenings of the relevant films/programmes will be timetabled during the week preceding the seminar. Students will find it useful to have some prior knowledge of Gothic literature and/or film, but this is not essential.

Assessment

One 5000-word essay on one or more of the set texts. Titles/topics to be approved by tutor.

For details about reading lists and seminar topics, please refer to the course handbook.

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