Professor Catherine Spooner

Professor of Literature and Culture

Research Interests

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 literature and culture from the late-eighteenth to the twenty-first century. As a creative writer, she is interested in poetry, place writing and historical fiction, and her writing usually has a strong Gothic flavour.

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 monograph about the white dress in Gothic literature and film, to be published by Bloomsbury in 2025. 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, and she has an emerging profile as a writer of fiction and poetry. 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. In 2023, she was longlisted for the Women's Prize Discoveries Award and won the McLellan Poetry Prize. Recent and forthcoming creative publications include poetry in Lune and the Fish Anthology 2023 and fiction in Volupté.

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, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Victoria and Albert Museum and Tod und Teufel: Faszination des Horrors at the Kunstpalast Düsseldorf. 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.