Professor Catherine SpoonerProfessor of Literature and Culture
Catherine Spooner works across both English Literature and Creative Writing. Her academic research is centred on Gothic in literature, film and popular culture, and fashion and costume in literature and film, within the broader spectrum of Victorian and contemporary literature and culture. Her creative writing also reflects these interests and is located at the intersection between Gothic, folklore, place writing and historical fiction.
Catherine’s academic research characteristically places Gothic literature and film within broader cultural frameworks, with particular attention to fashion and subcultures. She has published three monographs: Fashioning Gothic Bodies (2004), Contemporary Gothic (2006) and Post-Millennial Gothic: Comedy, Romance and the Rise of Happy Gothic (2017), which was awarded the International Gothic Association’s Allan Lloyd Smith Prize for significantly advancing the field of Gothic Studies in 2019.
Catherine is also a prolific editor and has co-edited a variety of works including The Routledge Companion to Gothic (2007), a book on the television series Twin Peaks (2015), and, most recently, The Cambridge History of the Gothic Volume 3: The Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries. This collection of 24 original essays tracing the development of modern and contemporary Gothic through major cultural and historical shifts was co-edited with Dale Townshend and published by Cambridge University Press in 2021.
Catherine is currently working on a cultural history of the white dress in Gothic literature and film, to be published by Bloomsbury in 2024. The book explores the horrors and fantasies of whiteness as articulated through fashion and costume, from Marie Antoinette to Melania Trump. She also has current research interests in the cultural afterlife of the Lancashire witches, folk horror and vampire narratives.
In recent years, Catherine’s research has increasingly focused on creative practice, encompassing fiction, poetry and works that fall somewhere in-between. She completed an additional postgraduate qualification in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow in 2022 and, also in 2022, won a Northern Writers’ Arvon Award.
Catherine works frequently with public institutions. She contributed to the volumes accompanying the British Film Institute’s season Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film and the exhibitions Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination at the British Library and Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Victoria and Albert Museum. She has given public talks at venues including the Barbican Gallery, the BFI, the British Library, the Brontë Parsonage Museum, the Design Museum Den Bosch, the Freud Museum, ICA London, the National Theatre and the V&A, and has made media appearances on BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 6 Music, BBC World Service, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Radio Essex and BBC Three Counties Radio.
Catherine was co-President, with Angela Wright, of the International Gothic Association 2013-17.
Read Catherine's blogs on The Conversation and follow her on Twitter.
Catherine teaches widely across the fields of Victorian, twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature within the department. She currently convenes the MA module 'Fashion on Film: Industry in Crisis' and teaches first-year Creative Writing workshops.
Catherine is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Catherine completed her BA in English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford, and her MA and PhD in English at Goldsmiths College, the University of London. She also holds an MLitt in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow. She has previously worked part-time at Goldsmiths College, and full-time at Falmouth University and the University of Reading, before coming to Lancaster in 2004.
Catherine Spooner specialises in Gothic literature and culture from the nineteenth century to the present, with a particular interest in fashion. She is the author of three books: Fashioning Gothic Bodies, Contemporary Gothic and Post-Millennial Gothic: Comedy, Romance and the Rise of Happy Gothic. She has also co-edited four books: The Routledge Companion to Gothic, Monstrous Media/Spectral Subjects, Return to Twin Peaks and The Cambridge History of the Gothic Volume 3: The Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries. She is currently working on a Gothic cultural history of the white dress and writing fiction with a Gothic slant.
PhD Supervision Interests
I welcome PhD applications related to any aspect of Gothic in literature, film, television and popular culture, or to fashion, costume and dress in literature and/or film. I am happy to consider interdisciplinary proposals and projects in creative writing (with a co-supervisor in creative writing).
- Gothic and Science Fiction
- Literature, Space and Place
- Literature, the Arts, Media and Performance