Education Secretary Michael Gove recently suggested that teenagers should read Middlemarch rather than Twilight. But new research from Lancaster University shows that Gothic fiction aimed at young adults can be as rewarding a topic for study as the literary classics.
In a symposium to be held on September 27, sixth formers from all over the North West are invited to take a trip ‘Beyond Twilight’ and enter the exciting and imaginative world of young adult Gothic fiction.
In an event that is the first of its kind, the full-day workshop for ‘readers, writers and scholars’ will bring together authors, figures from the publishing industry, academics and students to explore the surge of Gothic writing aimed at young adults in the last 10 to 15 years.
Young adult Gothic Fiction is part of a tradition of Gothic writing spanning three centuries but also plays a huge role in contemporary popular culture.
Dr Catherine Spooner, Senior Lecturer in the Department of English and Creative Writing, and a specialist in Gothic literature and culture, is leading the project. She said: “When people think of teenagers reading Gothic, they think of Twilight. But the massive commercial success of Stephenie Meyer’s novels tends to obscure the work of other authors in this field. We want to show that much of the Gothic fiction currently being aimed at teenagers is as diverse, complex and innovative as that supposedly aimed at adults.”
The workshop, which provides a serious ‘take’ on the phenomenon of young adult gothic fiction, will explore:
· Why Gothic has become a dominant mode in contemporary young adult publishing· Whether male and female readers look for different things in Gothic fiction· And, in the wake of Twilight, if contemporary Gothic novels have become ‘de-fanged’
Designed for sixth-formers studying A-level English Literature and/or Creative Writing, the workshop will also question the role of ‘horror’ in writing for children and young adults and the relationship between Gothic and branding, marketing and consumption.
Guest speaker authors will include:
· Chris Priestley (Mister Creecher, Dead Eyes)· Celia Rees (Witch Child, Sovay)· Marcus Sedgwick (Midwinterblood, White Crow and short-listed for the CILIP Carnegie Medal in 2013)· Sarah Singleton (Sacrifice, Heretic, Dark Storm)· Paula Morris (Ruined)
The day will also include a round table discussion involving authors and figures from the publishing industry.
Sixth formers will be encouraged to take part in the discussion, to ask questions and share their thoughts about contemporary Gothic fiction.
“Beyond Twilight will provide A-Level students with a unique opportunity to gain insight into the work of contemporary writers and the publishing industry, as well as to learn about current academic research in Gothic literature,” said Dr Spooner.
“The event aims to promote a broader understanding of the phenomenon of Gothic fiction and allows readers to share their thoughts about what and why they read.
“We have already sent out publicity to schools in the North West and have had an extraordinarily enthusiastic response. There is clearly an appetite for what we are doing.”
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