Gothic Literature

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Many critics suggest that the Gothic continues to influence contemporary art and literature, primarily through the media of film and video. Consider Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, various film adaptations of Frankenstein, and a selection of films based on Stephen King’s books. How do these works reflect the basic characteristics of Gothic literature? How do twentiethand twenty-first-century representations transform the idea of the Gothic prevalent in earlier centuries?

Read selections from Edmund Burke’s A Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and the Beautiful, and then connect Burke’s ideas to one Gothic novel. How do Burke’s ideas find expression in the novel you select? Be sure to use specific examples from the text to support your claim.

Read about scientific, biological, psychological, and spiritual explanations for why humans dream. Sigmund Freud’s On Dreams might also provide you with useful information. Connecting your reading about dreams with the interior landscapes of Gothic fiction may help you understand the imagery and narrative present in many Gothic novels.

Through parody, writers reveal and mock standard conventions of a given genre. For example, the Airplane series of films renders the convention of the disaster film both visible and very funny. In her novel Northanger Abbey, eighteenth-century writer Jane Austen parodies the Gothic novels of her day. Read Northanger Abbey and identify the specific characteristics Austen is parodying.

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