The Gothic Tradition in Literature Fall 2012 Class Lecture and Discussion Notes

I'll keep this updated with lecture notes and other items related to our class discussion. Links are clustered under the titles of the novels we're discussing. Most recent information appears at the TOP:

Important handouts/assignments:

Here are the two critical reading packets that are due for class on Tuesday, March 10th: Teresa Goddu's Intro to American Gothic and the Terror Versus Horror Debate.

Here is the info on the Final Paper/Presentation.

Here is the info on the SECOND CLOSE READING PAPER due on Tuesday, March 31st.

Here is the info on the FIRST CLOSE READING PAPER due on Thursday, February 19th.

Here's the handout for the Discussion Starter Assignments (you should have signed up for a group already).


for Jekyll & Hyde

Here are the notes for the discussion of Jekyll and Hyde.

There's a great article in the Atlantic (1994) about Stevenson and his critical reception.



for A Long Fatal Love Chase

Stephen King wrote a terrific review of Love Chase for the New York Times when it was first published in 1995. Here's the opening few paragraphs:

HOW much has the suspense novel -- subgenre "woman stalked/woman in peril" -- changed over the last 130 years or so? Well, consider: during the summer of 1992 I wrote a novel in which a woman named Rose leaves her violent, mentally unstable husband and flees to another city. Here she is taken in at a women's shelter and begins to build a new life. She also meets a much gentler man who falls in love with her. While all this is going on, her obsessed husband is hard at work, tracking her down.

In 1866, Louisa May Alcott wrote "A Long Fatal Love Chase," a novel in which a woman named Rose leaves her violent, mentally unstable husband and flees to another city. Here she is taken in at a women's shelter (a convent, in the Alcott version) and begins to build a new life. This life includes a much gentler man who falls in love with her. (That he happens to be a priest was only one of the problems Alcott had with the subject matter of her book.) While all this is going on, her obsessed husband is hard at work, tracking her down.

There are, of course, many differences between these two books, but the similarities are striking. So are the ironies. One is that, although written 125 years later, mine was published first, and in an edition of almost two million copies. It was reviewed respectfully (if not always favorably). Louisa May Alcott's version of Rose on the run, on the other hand, wasn't published at all. "I like horrible books if they have power," remarks a character in "Love Chase." It was not, apparently, a feeling shared by anyone at Roberts Brothers, Alcott's Boston publishers.

The story that would become A Long Fatal Love Chase was one that Alcott was unable to sell. She initially wrote it for publication (serialized) in The Flag of our Union, a Boston-based paper. Villanova Library provides access to original scans of this paper.

Rose is upset after reading The Wandering Jew, an 1844 novel by Eugene Sue. Link to an early edition here.


for Frankenstein

Cover images for various editions of Frankenstein.

Some images of Frankenstein in popular culture.

Mary Shelley's family life was a bit of a mess. Check out her Family Tree here (link to an excellent wikimedia resource).

The Bodlein Library has an excellent resource called Shelley's Ghost: Reshaping the Image of a Literary Family. It includes a draft of Frankenstein.

Here are the notes and images for the discussion of Frankenstein and Body Issues.


for Edgar Huntly

Here's a link to the contexts for our discussions of Charles Brockden Brown's Edgar Huntly.

Here's a link to some information on sleepwalking murder cases.


for The Monk

We'll need to talk a bit more about ROMANTICISM versus GOTHIC.

We may also talk a bit about the timeline of the Gothic. The BBC has a terrific Gothic timeline here.

Here's some info about the cover image for our (Dover Thrift) edition.

There are three known portraits of Lewis, found at the National Portrait Gallery.

If the novel itself isn't wacky enough for you, you may be interested in a series of six tableaux vivants based on The Monk created by Antonin Artaud, which you can see here. The images date from the 1930s, and were intended as a first step towards a film; he abandoned the project but did produce his own translated version of the novel in French. It was a *very* loose translation, with many major cuts (his version is about half the length of Lewis's original!).


for The Castle of Otranto

Here are a few notes about Horace Walpole (author of Otranto).


From the first day:

How do you define the Gothic? What do you think of when you hear "Gothic"?

Perhaps you've seen the painting, American Gothic, by Grant Wood?

Here are our First-Day-of-Class working definitions of the Gothic, from our various student teams:

Double B-S
Billy, Becka, Sydney
The Gothic is a compilation of dark, unnatural things that generally do not make people comfortable.  It is also a type of architecture and horror versus terror and internal versus external.
Struggle for power
Weather (dark & stormy)
Sense of dread & fear
History behind objects, figures, and places of gothic nature

The Unknown
Shayna, Danielle, Briana
Gothic explores horror and terror and the supernatural.  It focuses on the dark side of society.  This brings forth a spooky and eerie feel using imagery with architecture and death.  It portrays a trusted outlook on everyday life.

Team MurderFace
Cheyenne, Nick, Amy, Jacqui
The Gothic is a collection of macabre themes and images, with the intent of eliciting horror and terror.

The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Don’t Read Good
Devon, Katie, Michelle, Pat
Fear personified in a way that amplifies horror and terror in a setting that is equally macabre.
Often includes the supernatural, unnatural, and monsters.

The Tell Tale Hearts
Chelsea, Alexa, Juliana, Stephanie, Serena
The genre of Gothic began in the 19th century and continues today.  It consists of stories, novels, and poems based on taboo themes of horror, terror, religion, death, etc.  The definition of Gothic has been morphed and changed based on the cultural time period.  The line between science fiction and Gothic is often blurred.  The End?