The Victorian Gothic
ENGL 200 B--Reading Literary Forms: The Victorian Gothic
Since its inception in the mid to late eighteenth century, the Gothic has enjoyed a persistent place in the cultural imagination. As both genre and aesthetic, the category is capacious—often referring to literature, music, fashion, architecture, film, and television (think of all those vampire shows!)—yet, perhaps because of its capaciousness, notoriously difficult to define. This is especially true of the Victorian Gothic, which evokes of a departure from the characteristics typically associated with the “high Gothic” of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. In this class, we will interrogate the concept of the Gothic as it is expressed in a variety of literary forms: primarily poetry, short fiction, novels, and film. As we read these exemplary Gothic texts, in conjunction with a selection of secondary critical material, we will attempt to answer questions such as: What is the Gothic? How and why does the Victorian Gothic differ from its predecessor? What are the cultural motives and implications of this departure? Why has the genre been so persistent?
Students will be expected to engage critically with course topics and readings, both in class and, as this class fulfills the “W” requirement, through the composition of academic papers.