Wednesday 31 July 2013

Reading list for ENGL30071 Gothic: Politics, Sexuality and Identity in British Gothic Writing

Last updated 26th May 2013




Department of English and American Studies

University of Manchester

1st Semester 2013-2014

3rd Year Option: ENGL 30072


Politics, Sexuality and Identity in British Gothic Writing


Professor Patricia Duncker


            This course aims to provide students with an understanding of a significant and influential literary genre within a broad historical context.  The Gothic was an exceedingly popular form within the fiction and poetry in Britain and on the continent during the 1790s and was associated with excess, revolutionary rebellion, sexual license and lawlessness.  Throughout the nineteenth century, elements of the genre persisted, undergoing various metamorphoses. The theatrical and fantastic elements of the Gothic were intriguingly exploited by women writers and often used to express transgressive desire and the monstrous. The psychological dimension of the Gothic, with its telling moral ambivalence, its preoccupation with paranoia and fear, and its exploration of the uncanny, remained a rich seam even within realist forms of writing. Freud drew on E. T.A Hoffmann's Gothic tale, The Sandman to develop his theory of the uncanny, (See his essay The Uncanny 1919) and the genre continues to fascinate modern audiences in films as well as popular and literary fiction.

  • To increase students' knowledge and awareness of the Gothic within a literary historical context

·         To broaden and deepen students' critical and theoretical skills in reading and understanding complex texts

·         To strengthen students' analytical ability to construct a literary argument using textual evidence

·         To improve both the oral presentation skills and the quality of students' written prose



  • Students will acquire a deeper knowledge of the history of the Gothic as a literary form and register within nineteenth century British literature and a theoretical awareness of the literary practice involved in writing within this form.
  • Students will improve their ability to mount a cogent argument using evidence and to present a persuasive case with rhetorical force.



The Essay and Exam both carry 50% of the marks

20 credits: one general essay (3,000 words - 50%), where you can write about any of the texts on the course and a two-hour unseen exam (50%) with two questions, one on Romantic Gothic and the other on Victorian Gothic. You will be expected to comment in detail on at least two texts in your general essay and in both of your exam answers (50%). You must not duplicate material.

NB I will expect you to comment on and discuss the texts we have studied during the semester, both in your essay and in the exam. It is of course relevant to mention other Gothic texts, which you may have read, but we have not studied on the course, but they should not be the main focus of your discussion.




COURSE OUTLINE Academic Year 2013-2014

Autumn First Semester






Week 1 Introduction to the course and to Romantic Gothic Writing: Freud's Essay 'The Uncanny' (1919) and discussion of the source text: E.T.A. Hoffmann's The Sandman. In what ways do the themes and technical devices employed by Hoffmann set the agenda for The Gothic as a whole and Freud in particular?


Week 2  M.G. Lewis The Monk (1796) Why was The Monk considered to be so shocking? In what ways is the book typical of 1790s Gothic Romances?  Consider the complex publication history of the novel and the charges of blasphemy that were brought against Lewis. What functions do the poems included in the novel serve? What is the significance of the German influence upon Lewis?


Week 3 Ann Radcliffe The Italianor The Confessional of the Black Penitants (1797) Radcliffe was the best-selling iconic writer of the 1790s, famous for her rational supernatural methods and her exquisite sensibility. How does she link landscape, setting, weather and psychic states? Don't forget to read her essay 'On the Supernatural in Poetry' New Monthly Magazine Vol. 16, No. 1 (1826), pp.145-152. This contains her famous distinction between 'terror' and 'horror'.


Week 4  S.T. Coleridge The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1797), Kubla Khan (1797)  and Christabel (1801) A good critical paperback edition is Ed. John Beer Poems (Everyman, 1993) Coleridge's Gothic poems are often considered as a group. In what ways do the poems resemble- and differ from - the popular Gothic ballads of the period, especially the famous German ballad, Bürger's 'Lenore'?  (Xeroxes provided)


Week 5 James Hogg The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824)

This uncanny tale of haunting, doubles and damnation marks a shift in the potential of British Gothic writing. Hogg uses the form to explore interior psychological states and continues the political arguments common in Gothic writing but on his home territory of Scotland. 




falls in Week 6 of term




Week 7  The Darker Sex: Tales of the Supernatural and the Macabre by Victorian Women Writers Edited by Mike Ashley (Peter Owen, 2009) Can we gender the Gothic? What are the common themes and preoccupations in this collection?  How did women writers exploit the potential of ghosts and the conventions of ghostly tales?


Week 8 Charlotte Brontë Villette (1853) Kate Millett (in Sexual Politics 1st edition, 1969,1970) described this novel as 'one long meditation on a prison break' (Virago Press, 1977,p.146). What do you think? How does Brontë exploit and subvert the conventional tropes of the Gothic? In what ways does her novel rewrite the structures made famous by Radcliffe?


Week 9 Christina Rossetti Goblin Market (1860) This major poem, startlingly erotic and very queer indeed, is included in all collections of her poems. We will also consider Rossetti's poems about sisters and several of her more theologically conventional religious poems.


Week  10  Robert Louis Stevenson  Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) In what ways is this tale a sinister example of Queer Gothic? How does the structure of the narrative transform our understanding of the meanings of the tale?


Week 11 Henry James The Turn of the Screw (1898) How does James represent the supernatural? Many readings of the novel turn on the character of the governess. Is she an insane hysteric or are the ghosts really there? Look at the framing narrative. How does the opening setting of country house ghost stories influence our reading of the tale?


Week 12 Bram Stoker Dracula (1897) Oxford World's Classics edition Ed Maud Ellmann (Oxford University Press, 1996) has a controversial and interesting Introduction. There is a more recent Oxford World's Classics edition, edited with notes by Roger Luckhurst, (Oxford University Press, 2011). See also the Penguin Classics Edition (Ed. Maurice Hindle, 1993). How are the tensions between ancient superstition and modernity dramatised in Dracula? What is the function of the opening chapters? Why does the fragmented narrative seem so modern in its concerns with writing, recording, documenting events?



We will concentrate on the following set texts, which are required reading for the course. These are available in many different cheap editions and we will study them in the order below. I have suggested critical editions for some of the texts, which contain useful notes and Introductions. On the whole, it's better to read from Penguin Classics and Oxford World's Classics editions. You'll find you need the notes.


  • First session: Freud's 1919 essay 'The Uncanny'. Suggested edition The Uncanny Translated by David McLintock with an Introduction by Hugh Haughton (Penguin Books, 2003) This edition contains several other essays including 'Screen Memories' and 'The Creative Writer and Daydreaming'. E.T.A Hoffman 'The Sandman' This text is included in various anthologies. One suggested World's Classics edition is E.T.A. Hoffmann, The Golden Pot and Other Tales Translated by Ritchie Robertson (Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1992) This is a good translation of the texts.


  • M.G. Lewis The Monk (1796) Use the Oxford World's Classics Edition as this has an excellent Introduction by Emma McEvoy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998)


  • Ann Radcliffe The Italianor The Confessional of the Black Penitants (1797) The World's Classics version is excellent with an Introduction and Notes by E.J. Clery ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998)


  • S.T. Coleridge The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1797), Kubla Khan (1797) and Christabel (1801) A good critical paperback edition is Ed. John Beer Poems (Everyman, 1993) See also the Oxford World's Classics edition Ed. H.J. Jackson, 1985, and reissued 2008.


  • James Hogg The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824) Oxford World's Classics Edition edited with an Introduction and Notes by Ian Duncan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010) You really will need the notes to this complex text.


  • Anthology: The Darker Sex: Tales of the Supernatural and the Macabre by Victorian Women Writers Edited by Mike Ashley (Peter Owen, 2009) This is the only edition which contains all the stories selected for study.


  • Charlotte Brontë Villette (1853) I suggest the Penguin Classics edition with Introduction and Notes by Helen M. Cooper (London: Penguin Books, 2004) The novel contains a good deal of French; you may need the useful translations in the notes.


  • Christina Rossetti Goblin Market (1860) Included in all collections of her poems. We will also look at some of the shorter poems. Various editions. Faber has published a selection.


  • Robert Louis Stevenson The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales of Terror (1886) There are various good editions. Edited with Introduction and Notes by Robert Mighall (London : Penguin Books, 2002) This edition also contains Olalla, a famous vampire story.


  • Henry James The Turn of the Screw (1898) (Bedford Books of St Martin's Press, Boston, New York, 1995) In the Casebook of Contemporary Criticism series. Contains a variety of critical approaches to the book with extensive bibliographies. There are other editions, notably the Oxford World's Classics edition which contains several other stories. 


  • Bram Stoker   Dracula  (1897) Oxford World's Classics edition Ed. Roger Luckhurst, has a useful bibliography (Oxford University Press, 2011). But see the earlier Oxford World's Classics edition mentioned above with a suggestive introduction by Maud Ellmann.




The critical literature on the Gothic is vast and varied. Here are some useful starting points to the set texts and the subject. Start building your own bibliography as you go along. The Cambridge companions are available on-line. Don't forget to consult JSTOR, and SCHOLAR GOOGLE for your literature searches: our invaluable archive of articles available on-line.




Albrecht, Thomas, 'Sympathy and Telepathy: The Problem of Ethics in George Eliot's 'The Lifted Veil' ELH, Vol 73. No.2 ( Summer, 2006), pp. 437-463.

Bann, Jennifer, 'Ghostly Hand and Ghostly Agency: The Changing Figure of the Nineteenth Century Spectre' Victorian Studies 4, 51 (2009), pp. 663-686.

Battersby, Christine, The Sublime, Terror and Human Difference (Routledge, 2007) See especially her early chapters on Burke and Kant.

Beidler, Peter G., Henry James : The Turn of the Screw : Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism (Bedford Books of St Martin's Press, Boston, New York, 1995) Contains a variety of critical approaches to the book with extensive bibliographies.  

Blakemore, Stephen, 'Matthew Lewis's Black Mass: Sexual, Religious Inversion in The Monk' Studies in the Novel, 30 ( 1998), pp. 521-539.

Bloom, Clive, Gothic Histories: The Taste for Terror 1764 to the Present (London: Continuum, 2010) This is the most recent general history. Not always accurate, but very readable.

Botting, Fred, The Gothic (Routledge, 1996) Sensible, general. Very much a starting point.

Brown, Nicola and Burdett, Carolyn and Pamela Thurschwell Eds. The Victorian Supernatural (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004)

Braben, Benjamin A., 'Surveying Ann Radcliffe's Gothic Landscapes' Literature Compass, 3 : 4 (2006), pp.840-845.

Butler, Marilyn, Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries: English Literature and its Background 1760-1830 (Oxford University Press, 1981). Classic general history of literature in the Romantic Period.  See especially Chapter 7 on the novel in the Romantic period.

Carson, James P, Populism, Gender, and Sympathy in the Romantic Novel (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) See especially Chapter 1: 'Gothic and Romantic Crowds'.

Castle, Terry, The Female Thermometer: Eighteenth Century Culture and the Invention of the Uncanny ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995)

Clery, E.J., 'The Supernatural Explained' The Rise of Supernatural Fiction 1762-1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 106-171.

Colman, Athena V., 'Lacan's Anamorphic Object: Beneath Freud's Unheimlich' Janus Head, Vol.12, Issue 2, Corpses, (2009), pp. 49-66.

Cox, Michael, and Gilbert, R.A., Eds. The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003)

Dickerson, Vanessa D., Victorian Ghosts in the Noontide: Women Writers and the Supernatural (Missouri: The University of Missouri Press, 1996)

Duncan, Ian, 'Authenticity Effects: The work of Fiction in Romantic Scotland' The South Atlantic Quarterly  Vol. 102, (Winter,2003), pp. 93-116.

Elliot, Kamilla, Portraiture and British Gothic Fiction: The Rise of Picture Identification 1764- 1835 (London: John Hopkins University Press, 2012)

Ellis, John M., 'Clara, Nathanael and the Narrator: Interpreting Hoffmann's Der SandmanThe German Quarterly, 54, ( 1981), pp. 1-18.

Evans, Meredith, 'Persons Fall Apart: James Hogg's Transcendent Sinner' NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction No. 36, (2003), pp. 198-218.

Fincher, Max, Queering Gothic in the Romantic Age (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)

Franklin, Caroline, Ed. The Longman Anthology of Gothic Verse (Pearson Education Ltd: Harlow, 2011) Contains all the poetry texts you will need including Coleridge and some of the  Rossetti poems.

Germanà, Monica, 'The Sick Body and the Fractured Self: (Contemporary) Scottish Gothic' Gothic Studies Vol.13, Issue 2, (November, 2011), pp. 1-8.

Guest, Harriet, 'The Wanton Muse: Politics and Gender in Gothic Theory after 1760' Eds. Stephen Copley and John Whale, Beyond Romanticism: New Approaches to Texts and Contexts: 1780-1832 (Routledge, 1992), pp. 118-139.

Gordon, Lyndall, Charlotte Brontë : A Passionate Life (London: Chatto & Windus, 1994) Very useful on her relationship with Héger in Brussels and the contentious tale of her love letters to him.

Greenfield, Susan C., 'Veiled Desire: Mother–Daughter Love and Sexual Imagery in Ann Radcliffe's The Italian,'  The Eighteenth Century, 33.1 (Spring, 1992), pp. 73-89.

Haefele-Thomas, Ardel, Queer Others in Victorian Gothic: Transgressing Monstrosity (Cardiff: The University of Wales Press, 2012)

Handley, Sasha, Visions of an Unseen World: Ghost beliefs and Ghost Stories in Eighteenth Century England  (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2007)

Hanson, Clare, 'The Lifted Veil: Women and Short Fiction in the 1880s and 1890s' The Yearbook of English Studies, 26, (1996), pp. 135-142.

Heady, Emily W.,  ' "Must I render an Account?" Genre and Self-Narration in Charlotte Brontë's VilletteJournal of Narrative Theory 36 (2006), pp. 341-364.

Hughes, Gillian, James Hogg: A Life (Edinburgh University Press, 2007) The most recent biography.

Hughes, William, and Smith, Andrew, Queering the Gothic (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009)

Imlay, Elizabeth, Charlotte Brontë and the Mysteries of Love: Myth and Allegory in Jane Eyre (Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1989) Very strange, suggestive book on Jane Eyre.

Johnson, Claudia L.,  Equivocal Beings: Politics, Gender and Sentimentality in the 1790s (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995)

Jonte-Pace, Diane, Speaking the Unspeakable: Religion: Misogyny and the Uncanny Mother in Freud's Cultural Texts(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001)

Kosofsky Sedgwick, Eve, 'Murder Incorporated: Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1985) Included in Wu, Romanticism: A Critical Reader, pp. 359-378. The links between Gothic and Queer studies is evident in the inheritance of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's work.

Kreilkamp, Ivan, Voice and the Victorian Storyteller (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005)

Kilgour, Maggie, The Rise of the Gothic Novel ( London: Routledge, 1995)

Long Hoeveler, Diane, Gothic Feminism: The Professionalization of Gender from Charlotte Smith to the Brontës (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1998)

Lawrence, Karen, 'Disclosure and Reticence in VilletteNineteenth Century Literature, 4. 1988), pp. 448-466.

Lynch, Eve M., 'Spectral Politics: The Victorian Ghost Story and the Domestic Servant' in The Victorian Supernatural Eds. Nicola Brown et al (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 67-86.

Mahawatte, Royce, George Eliot and the Gothic Novel: Genres, Gender, Feeling (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2013)

Martin, Carol, 'Gaskell's Ghosts: Truths in Disguise' Studies in the Novel 21, 1 (1989), pp. 27-40.

Massé, Michelle, In the Name of Love: Women, Masochism and the Gothic (Cornell University Press, 1992) See especially Chapter 1 ' Things that Go Bump in the Night: Husbands, Horrors and Repetition'.

Meyers, Helen, Femicidal Fears: Narratives of the Female Gothic Experience  (Albany: SUNY Press, 2001

Mighall, Robert, A Geography of Victorian Gothic Fiction: Mapping History's Nightmares (Oxford University Press, 2003)

Miller Lucasta, The Brontë Myth (Jonathan Cape, 2001) Excellent and well written.

Moers, Ellen, Literary Women (The Women's Press, 1978) See especially Chapter 5 'Female Gothic' and Chapter 7 ' Travelling Heroinism: Gothic for Heroines'. This is an old text, but still original in its scope and radical in its conclusions.

Pearson, Jacqueline, Women's Reading in Britain 1750-1835 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999) See especially Chapter 3 'The pleasures and perils of reading'.

Pittock, Murray, Scottish and Irish Romanticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008) Pioneering book on national identity and Gothic.

Punter, David, The Literature of Terror: A History of Gothic Fictions from 1765 to the Present Day 1st edition (London: Longman, 1980)  (2nd edition, 1996) A standard history.

________. A Companion to the Gothic (Blackwell Publishers, 2001)

Redecop, Magdalene, 'Beyond Closure: Buried Alive with Hogg's Justified Sinner' ELH, Vol 52, No.1, (1985), pp.159-184.

Reineke, Martha J. Sacrificed Lives: Kristeva on Women and Violence (Bloomington Indiana University Press, 1997)

Rigby, Mair, 'Uncanny Recognition: Queer Theory's Debt to the Gothic' Gothic Studies, 11:1 (2009), pp.46-57.

Royle, Nicholas, The Uncanny (Manchester : Manchester University Press, 2003)

Ruddick, Nicholas, 'The fantastic fiction of the fin de siècle' in The Cambridge Companion to the Fin de Siècle Ed. Gail Marshall (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 189- 206.

Ryan, Robert M., The Romantic Reformation: Religious Politics in English Literature 1789 - 1824 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997)

Shelley, Mary, 'On Ghosts' London Magazine , 9, (1824), pp. 253-256.

Showalter, Elaine, Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin de Siècle 1st edition, Bloomsbury, 1991) (London :Virago, 1992)

Smith, Andrew, The Ghost Story 1840-1920 (Manchester: University of Manchester Press, 2010)

Spencer, Jane, The Rise of the Woman Novelist: From Aphra Behn to Jane Austen (Oxford Basil Blackwell, 1986) Very scholarly and full of information.

Spooner, Catherine and McEvoy, Emma Eds. The  Routledge Companion to Gothic (Routledge, 2007) This is one of the stronger collections of essays on Gothic and has a particularly useful section on 'Gothic Concepts'.

Swann, Karen 'Literary Gentlemen and Lovely Ladies: The Debate on the Character of Christabel' ELH, 2 (1985), pp. 397-418.

Tooley, Brenda, 'Gothic Utopia: Heretical Sanctuary in Ann Radcliffe's The ItalianUtopian Studies, 11:2 (2000), pp. 42-56.

Wolfson, Susan J., Borderlines: The Shiftings of Gender in British Romanticism (Stanford University Press, 2006) Especially interesting on gender, gendered discourses and writing in the Romantic period.

Wall, James, Contesting the Gothic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999)

Wallace, Diana, 'Uncanny Stories: The Ghost Story and Female Gothic' Gothic Studies (May, 2004) Vol. 6, Issue 1, pp. 57-67.

_____. Female Gothic Histories: Gender, History and the Gothic (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2013)

Wood, Jane, Passion and Pathology in Victorian Fiction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001)

Wright, Angela Britain, France and the Gothic 1764-1820: The Import of Terror (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013)

Ed. Wu, Duncan, Romanticism: A Critical Reader (Blackwell, 1995)          





If you decide that you would like to concentrate on a particular author or Gothic writing in either period then you might find it useful to read some of the texts listed below. These are optional texts, which will give you a broader understanding of the genres and forms within the Gothic.

If you didn't read Frankenstein while studying 'Contexts of Writing' in Year One then you will find this text essential reading.


Horace Walpole The Castle of Otranto (1764) sometimes regarded as the first Gothic novel. It has all the standard tropes.

William Beckford  Vathek   (1786) Queer Orientalism from an eccentric writer.

Ann Radcliffe The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) This is the novel that had Henry Tilney's hair standing on end( see Jane Austen Northanger Abbey). It's long, but a real pleasure to read.

Mary Shelley Frankenstein (1818) I shall assume a knowledge of Frankenstein. If you missed reading it then, add this pleasure to your essential reading list. Use the 1831 edition, which was extensively revised by Shelley herself and contains the famous Introduction which describes the dream sequence which, she claims, was the source of the novel. This is referred to in Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and echoed in George Eliot's 'The Lifted Veil'. 

Charles Maturin Melmoth the Wanderer: A Tale (1820) A long novel, based on the Faust pact, very gripping. An early example of Irish Gothic.

Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre (1847) and Emily Brontë Wuthering Heights (1847) Both these classic texts are examples of regional domestic Gothic.




Patricia Duncker

Revised and updated 26th May 2013

1 comment:

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