Victorian Gothic

In the Victorian period, the decaying castles, corrupt priests and ancestral curses that were so prominent in the first phase of the Gothic novel gave way to an increased emphasis on spectral and monstrous others: ghosts, witches, werewolves, vampires, mummies and other creatures of the night. The module will explore these phenomena in their historical, cultural and literary contexts, with particular focus on emerging discourses of gender, sexuality, colonialism and class. The module will pay special attention to visual aspects of the Gothic, examining book illustration, painting and photography from the period and their relationship with Gothic texts. Students will be asked to consider the relationship between newly emergent forms of modernity (from medical discourses to photography) and the preoccupation with history and the past that is a generic feature of the Gothic. Texts will comprise a selection of novels and short fiction, with additional images and extracts from contextual works provided online and in class.