Gothic Literature

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 15 December 2023
18 March 2022


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

What compels De Monfort's murderous hate? What tragedy has broken Martha Ray? Why does the Ancient Mariner kill the albatross?

At the heart of Gothic literature lies a mystery--one that often remains inexplicable; one that harries, harasses, and haunts characters; and one that drives them, often, to acts of horrible violence. And yet, there is something perversely attractive about this compulsion that licenses desires normally repressed or curbed, desires the existence of which we may not wish even to acknowledge. As a window into the gory crypt of the soul, Gothic literature invades our privacy and makes us squirm in light of what it discovers. To this end, the artworks studied in this module touch on such topics as sexuality, deviancy, monstrosity, madness, and the supernatural. The Gothic revival in England is a late eighteenth-century phenomenon, hence the focus on this time period. We will, however, also reach forward into the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries to explore some of the Gothic's hideous progeny.

Module content note: topics may include sexualised violence, incest, misogyny, xenophobia, human sacrifice, and racism. Please contact the module supervisor if you have any questions.

Module aims

This module introduces students to a range of works that all participate in the Gothic mode and to encourages critical thinking about key aesthetic topics in the genre—eg horror, terror, the fantastic, the uncanny, the picturesque—as well as recurrent the social, cultural, and philosophical topics, from sexuality to patriarchal authority to nationalism. Further, the module is designed:

1. To provide a strongly supportive learning environment in which students will study Gothic literature.
2. To engage students with critical approaches and theories relevant to the study of Gothic literature.
3. To enable students to take full advantage of the research expertise of the tutor and the resources in the University's Albert Sloman Library.
4. To enhance employability by providing transferable skills that have practical applicability in the world outside the university.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module students will be able to:
1. Identify and discuss key, recurring tropes in Gothic literature.
2. Expatiate on key historical, philosophical, and aesthetic elements in the evolution of Gothic literature.
3. Compare and contrast different Gothic texts and treatments of the form.
4. Perform research using a range of resources.
5. Interact productively with classmates to share knowledge, reflect on problems, and formulate interpretations.
6. Enhance their reading and writing skills.

Module information

Introduction to the Gothic
Gray, "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" (1751); Aikin (later Barbauld), "On the Pleasure Derived from Objects of Terror, With Sir Bertrand, A Fragment" (1773).
Walpole, The Castle of Otranto (1764/5).
Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (revised version of 1817); Radcliffe, "On the Supernatural in Poetry" (1826).
Baillie, De Monfort (1798) [or film: Merhige (dir.), Shadow of the Vampire (2000)]
Polidori, The Vampyre: A Tale (1819); Keats, "Lamia" (1819/20)
Marsh, The Beetle (1897).
Hoffmann, "The Sandman" (1816)
Freud, "The Uncanny" (1919)
Gaiman, Coraline (2002).

Learning and teaching methods

Anticipated teaching delivery: Weekly 1-hour lecture and 1-hour seminar


The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Online Portfolio (Submitted via Moodle)    15% 
Coursework   Essay (1,000 words)  15/11/2023  20% 
Coursework   Online Portfolio (REASSESSMENT)  15/12/2023   
Coursework   Research Essay (2,500 words)  21/12/2023  60% 
Practical   Participation    5% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Christopher Bundock, email:
Dr Christopher Bundock
LiFTS General Office, email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

Dr Doug Haynes
University of Sussex
Reader in American Literature and Visual Culture
Available via Moodle
Of 32 hours, 32 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Further information

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.