Gothic Literature

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Sunday 17 January 2021
Friday 26 March 2021
05 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA QT37 English and United States Literature (Including Year Abroad),
BA T720 English and United States Literature,
BA T723 English and United States Literature (Including Placement Year),
BA T728 English and United States Literature (Including Foundation Year),
BA Q300 English Literature,
BA Q303 English Literature (Including Placement Year),
BA Q320 English Literature (Including Foundation Year),
BA Q321 English Literature (Including Year Abroad),
MLITQ391 Literature,
BA QV23 Literature and Art History,
BA QV24 Literature and Art History (Including Placement Year),
BA QV2H Literature and Art History (Including Foundation Year),
BA QV32 Literature and Art History (Including Year Abroad),
BA QV3B Literature and Art History (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad)

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 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

1 Introduction to the Gothic
2 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).
3 Walpole, The Castle of Otranto (1764/5).
4 Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (revised version of 1817); Radcliffe, "On the Supernatural in Poetry" (1826).
5 Baillie, De Monfort (1798) [or film: Merhige (dir.), Shadow of the Vampire (2000)]
6 Polidori, The Vampyre: A Tale (1819); Keats, "Lamia" (1819/20)
7 Marsh, The Beetle (1897).
8 Hoffmann, "The Sandman" (1816)
9 Freud, "The Uncanny" (1919)
10 Gaiman, Coraline (2002).

Learning and teaching methods

This module is designed to be deliverable either fully online (in a lockdown situation) or as a blended module with some online components and some face-to-face instruction, health and safety permitting. The structure of each week will alternate slightly between these two patterns: • Week A: 50 min lecture (Zoom); 50 min seminar (either face-to-face or Zoom). • Week B: 50 min lecture (Zoom); 10 min pair tutorial (either Zoom or email feedback). Lectures will always be recorded and uploaded. They may also be supplemented by curated online media. Students will also complete a series of small weekly assignments ahead of lectures and seminars (eg. reading-comprehension quizzes, forum posts, annotation exercises, etc).



Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay (1,000 words)    20% 
Coursework   Research Essay (2,500 words)    60% 
Coursework   Online Portfolio    15% 
Coursework   Participation    5% 

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

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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