Monday 21 July 2014

ENGL30072 Gothic

Revised and updated 12th May 2014


Department of English and American Studies

University of Manchester

2nd Semester 2014-2015

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.



TEACHING STRUCTURE: One weekly lecture and one two-hour seminar (2 groups)



ASSESSMENT 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 2014-2015

Second 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 narrative 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 Italian, or The Confessional of the Black Penitants (1797) Radcliffe was the best-selling iconic writer of the 1790s, famous for her descriptive landscape writing, her use of the ‘supernatural explained’ and her exploration of the traditions of 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 Mary Shelley Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818) The extraordinary tale of the Monster and his Maker has become a modern myth, but we shall be returning the monster to his home territory in the Romantic period and considering the political discourses of the novel and its radical Gothic structure. How do the patterns of creation and obsession described in Frankenstein link to Hoffmann’s The Sandman?

The 1831 edition, extensively revised by Shelley herself, contains her famous Introduction, that describes the 1816 dream sequence. This dream, so Mary Shelley claims, was the source of the novel. This dream reappears in Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and is echoed in George Eliot’s The Lifted Veil






Week 6 Emily Brontë Wuthering Heights (1847) Brontë ‘s suggestive, regional domestic Gothic brings the horror back home to Britain. How does the narrative structure transform our reading of the novel’s meanings? We will also consider the metaphysical arguments of the book in relation to a selection of Brontë’s poetry (Xeroxes provided).


Week 7 The Darker Sex: Tales of the Supernatural and the Macabre by Victorian Women Writers Ed. Mike Ashley (Peter Owen, 2009) The tales included in this collection give us an overview of the work produced by women in the Victorian period, from Gaskell’s famous The Old Nurse’s Story, (1852), which is a source for James’ The Turn of the Screw, through to the science and horror tales of the Edwardians. The collection also includes George Eliot’s science-and-horror tale The Lifted Veil (1859) Can we gender the Victorian 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 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  9  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 10 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 11 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 work with the Norton Critical Editions, the 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 original German 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 Italian, or 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.


·         Mary Shelley Frankenstein There are two distinct versions of the novel: the original 1818 edition Ed. J. Paul Hunter, available as a Norton Critical Edition (1996), and the revised third edition of 1831, which contains the famous Introduction/Preface, also included in the Norton. See also the Oxford World’s Classics edition, Ed. M.K.Joseph. You 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.


  • Emily Brontë Wuthering Heights (1847) Several critical editions available and there is a Norton Critical edition, see also the Penguin Classics edition (1995) with Introduction and Notes by Pauline Nestor. The most recent edition (2003) has a basic annotated bibliography.


  • Christina Rossetti Goblin Market (1860) This major work is 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 and theoretical literature on the Gothic is vast, varied and increasing. 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. I will be handing out extra bibliographies on specific topics in the lectures.



Adams, Analisa, ‘From the Perverse Father to the “Miserable Monster”: Tracking the Deployment of Sexuality in M.G.Lewis’s The Monk and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’, Predicate: An English Studies Journal , Issue 2 (2012), pp. 37- 49.

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 one of the most recent general histories. Not always accurate, but very readable. See also the University of Wales texts on the History of Gothic by Carol Davison and Jarlath Killeen.

Botting, Fred, The Gothic (Routledge, 1996) Sensible, but very general. Treat this texts as 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 One : ‘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)

Davies, Stevie, ‘Three distinct and unconnected tales’: The Professor, Agnes Grey and Wuthering Heights’, The Cambridge Companion to the Brontës Ed. Heather Glen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 72-98. An important collection.

Davison, Carol Margaret Gothic Literature 1764-1824 : History of the Gothic (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2009)

Derrida, Jacques, ‘Hospitality’, Angelaki , 5:3 (2000) , pp. 3-18.

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

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 Sandman’, The German Quarterly, 54, ( 1981), pp. 1-18.

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 almost all the poetry texts you will need including Coleridge and some of the  Rossetti poems. Useful edition.

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.

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.

Haywood, Ian and Seed, John Eds. The Gordon Riots: Politics, Culture and Insurrection in Late Eighteenth Century Britain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012) A very important study of the Riots and anti-Catholic public feeling in the period.

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

Jack, Belinda, The Woman Reader (Yale University Press, 2012) See especially Chapters 7 and 8. A very interesting and suggestive book, with fascinating illustrations.

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)

Killeen, Jarlath, History of the Gothic: 1825-1914 Gothic Literature (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2009)

Kosofsky Sedgwick, Eve, ‘Murder Incorporated: Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1985) Included in Wu, Romanticism: A Critical Reader, pp. 359-378. You should be aware of the links between Gothic and Queer studies, which is evident in the inheritance of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s work. See also the article listed below by Mair Rigby, on Queer studies and the Gothic legacy.

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)

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 One: ‘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 introduction to the Brontës, astute 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, James, ‘TOTAL NARCISSISM AND THE UNCANNY: A New Interpretation of E.T.A Hoffmann’s The Sandman’ ,Angelaki  18, ( 2013), pp. 17- 27.

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, The Romantics 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)

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)

Scott Crossberg, Benjamin, ‘Making Christabel’, Journal of Homosexuality, 41.2, (2008), pp. 247-265.

Shelley, Mary, ‘On Ghosts’, London Magazine , 9, (1824), pp. 253-256. This is on the web.

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.

Spencer, Kathleen L., ‘Purity and Danger: Dracula, the Urban Gothic and the Late Victorian Degeneracy Crisis’, ELH, 59, (1992), pp. 197- 225. 

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 Italian’, Utopian 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) This is a new book has arrived in the library.

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.


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.

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), Villette (1853).

Patricia Duncker

Revised and updated 12th May 2014



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