Undergraduate English Courses

358:328 The Gothic

 

01  MW7  CAC  16711  ELLIS  MU-208

An ad for a paperback thriller displayed on subways and busses in New York recently declared that "no secret lies buried forever." The Gothic novel is the quintessential genre of buried secrets, and the quintessential burial place for secrets is the haunted house, the domestic space that became, by the mid-eighteenth-century, the sphere "ruled" by women. The secret is buried because it involves violence, and its victim "haunts" its place of burial. The Gothic is a genre that has persisted since it first emerged, as a subcategory of the novel, in the late eighteenth century, evolving with variants into popular horror movies. It focuses on evil. We will trace this development from its beginnings in Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto and will then read novels by Ann Radcliffe, Matthew Gregory Lewis, William Godwin, Jane Austen, and Mary Shelley. If you have a favorite contemporary ersion of the genre, you may bring it into your final paper as well.