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HS Gothic Histories : Course Description

Course Description


subject area: literature
language: English

reading:
Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)
Matthew Lewis, The Monk (1796)
John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi (1612-13)
Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (1798-99) (excerpts on studOn)
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818) (please buy the Norton Critical Edition – no other edition will do!)
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) (excerpts on studOn)
Angela Carter, "The Bloody Chamber", "The Lady of the House of Love" (1979) (stories on studOn)
John Harwood, The Ghost Writer (2004)

recommended literature:
Clive Bloom, Gothic Histories: The Taste for Terror, 1764 to the Present (London and New York: Continuum, 2010)
Fred Botting, Gothic (London and New York: Routledge, 1996).

In this course, we will look into the Gothic as a literary mode from seventeenth-century drama to the contemporary novel. We will start by establishing the paradigm of the classic Gothic novel and discuss Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho and Lewis's The Monk as typical examples of female and male Gothic (you should have read both novels by the beginning of the seminar – there will be a reading test in the first session). Additionally, we will use the first weeks of term to become familiar with theories of the Gothic (such as the sublime, terror vs. horror, Freud's uncanny, Kristeva's abject, and Abraham and Torok's phantom). We will then go back to the early modern age and discuss a Jacobean tragedy, Webster's The Duchess of Malfi, as a 'proto-Gothic' text, before we trace further developments of the Gothic mode: Victorian Gothic (Shelley's Frankenstein), contemporary feminist Gothic (Carter's short stories), and neo-Victorian Gothic (Harwood's The Ghost Writer).

Please note that attending this course entails a heavy reading load. As we will discuss Radcliffe's and Lewis's novels alongside each other, you should have finished reading (at least) The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Monk by the beginning of the semester (see above). Additionally, all course members are expected to join an expert group that is responsible for the structuring of one session.