Module QXE-1014:
The Gothic in Literature/Film

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics.

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Karin Koehler

Overall aims and purpose

  1. To examine the forms and themes of a range of literary and cinematic texts frequently classified as examples of the Gothic mode.

  2. To be able to define Gothic as a genre and to read, analyse and critically assess a range of texts associated with it.

  3. To become familiar with a range of literary theories that can be applied to the study of Gothic texts.

  4. To assess how a genre changes over time and to analyse its (re)production across a range of different forms or media, from the novel to the screen.

Course content

This introductory course is organized in a loosely chronological way, beginning with some late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Gothic texts (including Shelley's Frankenstein) and concluding with recent images of the Zombie in popular culture. The module is particularly sensitive to the ways in which Gothic texts have been used to represent contemporary cultural anxieties (such as the New Woman in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, or New Technology in the early years of the twenty-first), but it will also examine how the Gothic has been used to articulate political resistance, for example in anti-imperialist, post-colonial, and feminist works. It will also pay particular attention to the Gothic as a visual form, both analysing the representation of Gothic spaces in eighteenth and nineteenth-century literature and art, and investigating the importance of the genre to the development of cinema. While the precise topics covered by the module will vary from year to year, themes will include some of the following: Terror and the Sublime; Monstrosity and Deviance; Doubles and Doppelgängers; Vampires; Parody and Pastiche; Domesticity and ‘The Uncanny’; Cybergothic and the Post-human; Gothic, Gender, and Sexuality; Feminist and Postcolonial Rewritings; Gothic and the Young Adult Novel. Students will situate texts within their historical and political contexts, covering a range of periods, and will also gain an awareness of important theories (especially Freud’s notion of the Uncanny and Kristeva's notion of the abject) that will be important to the study of literature in the rest of their degree.

Assessment Criteria

C- to C+

Typically, work graded C- to C+ (or 50 to 59) will show many of the following qualities: • Discusses ideas, but without much confidence • A respectable effort but not showing any unusual talent; a few flashes of originality here and there • Makes reference to the subject in question, but some important matters not mentioned • Fairly clear thought on most occasions, and the arguments relevant on the whole • Evidence of having read some works associated with the field in question • Quite accurate expression, though the points may sometimes be presented clumsily • Signs of conscientious work deserve a higher position within the class • In creative work: not having quite mastered the requirements of the medium
• Evidence of planning in the answers, but a lack of coherence at times; undisciplined and unsure at times


Typically, work graded D- to D+ (or 40 to 49) will show many of the following qualities: • Unsure and lacking in confidence when discussing ideas • Referring to the subject in question in a superficial manner • Making an effort to provide fairly balanced answers • Some points in the argument irrelevant to the topic • Little evidence of background reading • Some uncertainty over language and syntax • Strengths and weaknesses fairly balanced; occasionally clumsy and unimaginative • In creative work: superficial • Not succeeding in mastering the requirements of the medium


Typically, work graded B- to B+ (or 60 to 69) will show many of the following qualities: • Discusses ideas adeptly • Most of the arguments about a specific field are well-aired • Displays knowledge of the subject in question; the answer is relevant • Shows analytical and clear thought • Gives evidence of relevant reading • Shows accuracy in expression with mastery over language. • A few minor errors here and there. • Signs of creative thought deserve a higher position within the class • In creative work: shows signs of originality, having understood the requirements of the medium • Plans of well-balanced and full answers, despite some gaps


Typically, work graded A- to A** (or 70 to 100) will show many of the following qualities:

• Discusses ideas with confidence and precision • Demonstrates maturity and sophistication • Displays deep knowledge of the subject in question; the answer is totally relevant • Shows independent, analytical and clear thought • Gives evidence of substantial and relevant reading • Shows great accuracy in expression, displaying total mastery over all aspects of the language • Shows occasional signs of brilliance and originality of thought • In creative work: displays considerable originality • Command over medium; may have potential for publication/production

Learning outcomes

  1. Appreciate that the Gothic has been used to represent a multiplicity of different cultural anxieties across time and to give ‘voice’ to, or demonise, a range of different social groups and national interests.

  2. Select, digest and organise material and produce a consistent and coherent argument, presented in essay form, to a deadline.

  3. Reflect on intersections between literary and cinematic texts and wider historical and contemporary social, cultural and political events.

  4. Identify key themes and concerns which are particular to the Gothic as a genre.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Essay 1 50
Essay 2 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Lecture 22
Seminar 11
Private study 167

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others


Courses including this module

Optional in courses: