The Gothic: Origins and Exhumations, 1800 to the Present - ENGL7230

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2023 to 2024
Spring Term 6 30 (15) Jenny Di Placidi checkmark-circle


This module explores the Gothic from its eighteenth-century origins to its present-day incarnations, examining in particular the conventions that have allowed this diverse and evolving genre to remain at once relevant and recognisable. The course focuses on the elements of terror, hauntings and transgressions and how these conventions are deployed and reworked by writers in key literary and historical moments in the genre's development, such as at the end of the end of the eighteenth century, the fin de siècle, post-war America and the millennium. It asks students to consider the Gothic within the social, political and cultural contexts that inform the novel’s various concerns about gender, sexuality, race, class and the law. There will be a strong emphasis on examining and exploring the theoretical discourses underpinning the shifts and developments in the major critical debates and trends. Students will be encouraged to relate textual and critical analysis to topics such as aesthetics, popular culture and literature, religion, social and political history as well as contemporary concerns such as marginalization, queer identity, the body and immigration. The module will demonstrate the ongoing significance of the Gothic as an experimental and evolving form that functions as a vehicle for political and social critiques and, as such, relates to concerns central to the study of undergraduate English and American literature.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 32
Private study hours: 268
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Essay 1 3,000 words 40%
Essay 2 3,000 words 40%
Seminar Participation 20%

Reassessment methods
100% Coursework (4,500 words)

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices.
The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages:

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate an ability to study and respond critically to a range of Gothic novels published between 1800 and the present day.
2 Explore and analyse the dominant theoretical approaches underpinning trends in Gothic criticism.
3 Consider the readings within the social, political and historical contexts that inform the primary texts.
4 Consider the developments in Gothic conventions from the 1800s to the present in relation to the corresponding concerns about race, class, gender, sexuality and the law in the British and American contexts.
5 Investigate and question the dominant debates in Gothic criticism from the eighteenth century to the present.
6 Demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the shifts in generic conventions and forms and their interrelationship to wider political, social and cultural discourses.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Apply critical reading skills in terms of close textual analysis and comparative studies, across a wide range of interdisciplinary materials.
2 Demonstrate the ability to synthesise information from a number of sources in order to gain a coherent understanding of theory and practice.
3 Display the ability to analyse, discuss and deploy secondary works (both critical and theoretical) from appropriate scholarly resources.
4 Demonstrate powers of communication and the capacity to argue a point of view with clarity, organisation and cogency and enhance confidence in the presentation of ideas individually and as a group, using a variety of methods.
5 Demonstrate competence in the planning and execution of essays and project-work and identify and develop research questions and arguments.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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