The Gothic Tradition

The Gothic Tradition

Taught by Dr. Amy H. Sturgis

The Gothic literary tradition began in the mid-eighteenth century in Europe and lives on in various forms across the globe through contemporary fiction, poetry, art, music, film, and television. Mad scientists, blasted heaths, abandoned ruins, elusive ghosts, charming vampires, and even little green men people its stories. With ingredients such as a highly developed sense of atmosphere, extreme emotions including fear and awe, and emphases on the mysterious and the paranormal, Gothic works tend to express anxieties about social, political, religious, and economic issues of the time, as well as rejection of prevailing modes of thought and behavior. This course will investigate the fascinating and subversive Gothic imagination (from the haunted castles of Horace Walpole to the threatening aliens of H.P. Lovecraft, from Dracula to Coraline), identify the historical conditions that have inspired it, consider how it has developed across time and place and medium, and explore how it has left its indelible imprint on the modern genres of science fiction and fantasy.


Course Schedule

The Gothic Tradition will meet Tuesday and Friday (primary lecture and closing session) from 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm (UTC-5)

Week 1 (January 13 – 17):
The Father of the Gothic
The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (1764)

Week 2 (January 20 – 24):
The Mother of the Gothic
Enroll Now ButtonThe Italian, or The Confessional of the Black Penitents by Ann Radcliffe (1797)

Week 3 (January 27 – 31):
The American Gothic 
“The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839) and “The Premature Burial” (1844) by Edgar Allan Poe

Week 4 (February 3 – 7):
The Brontës: Sisters of the Gothic
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1849)

Week 5 (February 10 – 14):
Gothic Children of the Night, Part I
“The Vampyre” by John Polidori (1819)
“Carmilla” by J. Sheridan Le Fanu (1872)

Week 6 (February 17 – 21):
Gothic Children of the Night, Part II
Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)

Week 7 (February 24 – 28):
The Cosmic Gothic
“The Call of Cthulhu” (1928) and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” (1936) by H.P. Lovecraft

Week 8 (March 3 – 7):
The Psychological Gothic
The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier (1969)

Week 9 (March 10 – 14):
Televised Gothic
“Pilot” from Millennium (Episode 1 of Season 1, 1996)
“Blink” from Doctor Who (Episode 10 of Season 3, 2007)

Week 10 (March 17 – 21):
“Meta” Gothic 
A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny (1993) *
“Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire” by Neil Gaiman (2004) *

Week 11 (March 24 – 28):
Children’s Gothic
Coraline by Neil Gaiman (2002)

Week 12 (March 31 – April 4):
Cinematic Gothic
El Orfanato (The Orphanage) directed by J.A. Bayona (2007)

* an audiobook of the former and a PDF of the latter will be available to registered students


Required Texts

Original illustration by Elia Fernández, all rights reserved.