A midsummer night's nightmare
Released: Friday 22nd June 2012 at 09:55
Academics at a North East university will be wading through blood, gore and things that go bump in the night next week, with a conference promising to lift the veil on gothic fiction.
The English team at the University of Sunderland are holding the one day conference on the enduringly popular genre of gothic literature. Spectral Visions: The Gothic takes place on Tuesday, June 26 at the university’s riverside campus and will feature experts from around the UK, who will talk about gothic influences from the work of Shakespeare, to Wuthering Heights to northern ghost stories.
“From a literary point of view ‘Gothic’ is a movement in the late 18th to late 19th Centuries, beginning with Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto (1765) and ending with Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897),” says Dr Alison Younger, programme leader for MA English at the university. “But the idea of ‘Gothic’ permeates music, popular culture, fashion and architecture. It never ceases to be popular in one form of another.”
Dr Younger says that though it may not be considered ‘Gothic’ by literary purist, the genre’s influence continues in popular fiction to this day: “I think Gothic monsters speak to, and about, the society in which they are created. Popular TV shows such as Trueblood play around with the vampire myth, and Twilight is a reworking of the Cinderella myth, wherein the ‘eccentric’ girl gets the hero – a sympathetic hero who will only break taboos out of necessity. It’s all very safe, and a radical move from the original monstrous revenants of the nineteenth century.
“Gothic is all about feelings of unknowing, feelings of uncertainty and doom and threats to happiness,” she says. “We need look no further than popular North East Wire in the Blood writer Val McDermid for modern gothic.”
The conference has proved so popular that Dr Younger and the team now plan to make it an annual event.