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Module QXE-1014:
The Gothic in Literature/Film

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

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 examples of the genre in popular culture. The module explores how Gothic texts have been used to represent cultural anxieties (about gender, sexuality, religion, technology, nationality, and race), but it will also examine how the Gothic has been used to articulate political resistance. 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; Domesticity and ‘The Uncanny’; Psychological Gothic; Welsh Gothic; Cybergothic and the Post-human; and Gothic, Gender, and Sexuality. 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


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


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

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

Learning outcomes

  1. Apply selected critical theories to the study of Gothic texts and films.

  2. Critically analyse how the Gothic has been used to represent cultural anxieties and give ‘voice’ to, or demonise, different social groups and national interests.

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

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

  5. Identify and critically discuss the significance of particular thematic and formal aspects that characterise Gothic films and texts.

  6. Understand how the Gothic has evolved across different literary periods, cultures, and media.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
COURSEWORK Close Reading Exercise

Students will produce two short close readings. One close reading will discuss a scene from a film, the other will focus on a short passage from a Gothic text studied between week 1-5.

ESSAY Coursework Essay + Annotated Bibliography

Students will choose from a list of questions and write a critical essay of 1,500 words. The essay will be accompanied by an annotated bibliography of 4-6 critical, scholarly sources, which will be no longer than 1,000 words.


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Lecture 22
Seminar 11
Private study 156

Film screenings


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
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • 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

Subject specific skills

  • Broad knowledge of literature and the distinctive characters of texts written in the principal literary genres of fiction, poetry and drama, and of other kinds of writing and communication (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.1; 3.1.1; 3.1.2).
  • Critical Skills in the close reading, description, reasoning and analysis and the ability to acquire substantial quantities of complex information of diverse kinds in a structured and systematic way involving the use of the distinctive interpretative skills of the subject (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.2; 1.3.6; 1.3.9; 2.1; 2.3; 3.2.1; 3.3.1; 3.3.3; 3.3.5; 3.3.8; 3.3.12; 3.3.13).
  • Sensitivity to generic conventions and to the shaping effects upon communication of circumstances, authorship, textual production and intended audience (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.8; 2.3.; 3.1.2; 3.2.3).
  • The capacity for independent thought and judgement; the ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories and to interrogate and apply a variety of theoretical positions and weigh the importance of alternative perspectives (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.9; 2.1; 2.3; 3.1.10; 3.2.2; 3.3.1; 3.3.7; 3.3.11).
  • The ability to comprehend and develop intricate concepts in an open-ended way which involves an understanding of purpose and consequences (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.6; 3.3.9).
  • Understanding of how cultural norms and assumptions influence questions of judgement (English Benchmark Statement 2.1; 2.2; 3.1.6; 3.1.7; 3.2.9).
  • Recognition of the multi-faceted nature of literature, and of its complex relationship to other media or disciplines and forms of knowledge (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.7; 2.1; 2.2; 2.4; 2.5; 3.1.8; 3.1.12).
  • Competence in the planning and execution of essays, presentations and other writing and project work (English Benchmark Statement 3.3.6).
  • Conceptual skills developed by demonstration and discussion. (English Benchmark Statement 3.2.2; 3.3.14; 3.3.17; 3.3.18; 3.3.19).
  • Study skills in researching concepts and contexts by directed reading. (English Benchmark Statement 3.3.22; 3.3.23).
  • The ability to express ideas clearly in discussion and in organised written form. (English Benchmark Statement 3.2.5; 3.2.7; 3.3.11; 3.3.15; 3.3.16; 3.3.21; 3.3.24).
  • The ability to analyse texts, using appropriate critical terminology. ( English Benchmark Statement 3.1.8; 3.2.1; 3.2.6; 3.3.12).
  • The ability to situate texts in intertextual debate and as responses to and interventions in contemporary culture. (English Benchmark Statement 3.1.7; 3.1.10; 3.1.11; 3.2.3; 3.2.8).
  • Ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories relating to English studies.
  • Bibliographic skills appropriate to the discipline, including accurate citation of sources and consistent use of conventions in the presentation of scholarly work.


Resource implications for students

All films will be screened as part of the module or made available via Panopto. Students will need to purchase copies of the primary novels and play, all of which are available in cheap paperback format and should amount to a total cost of no more than £25. Shorter texts will be made available via handouts or in electronic format on Blackboard.

Talis Reading list

Reading list

The reading list is updated from year to year to reflect recent developments in the Gothic genre, but students can expect to study such Gothic literary classics as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Bram Stoker's Dracula, poems by Emily Dickinson, and Tennessee Williams' play Suddenly Last Summer, as well as film adaptations and original films, including James Whale's Bride of Frankenstein, Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula, David Lynch's Lost Highway, and Ridley Scott's Alien

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: