This module will investigate "the Gothic" as a significant and recurring cycle within Hollywood film with recognisable tropes and themes, and a dominant tone and style. Beginning with the 1940s cycle of “Women's Gothic” which emerged at the same time as Film Noir, and visually and thematically overlapped with it, the module will explore the particularly filmic ways that such texts manage to evoke the menacing atmosphere and the tone of sexualised danger and suspense achieved by the Gothic’s source novels and short stories. Continuing from the original cycle of films, the module will examine later Hollywood films that have employed the themes and imagery of the Gothic to tap into similar complex anxieties and desires, before inspecting films from other cinemas (for example, those of Europe or Asia) which also make use of the dominant Gothic tropes.
Total contact hours: 60
Private study hours: 240
Total study hours: 300
Method of assessment
Essay 1 (2500 words) (40%)
Essay 2 (3500 words) (50%)
Seminar Participation (10%)
Botting, Fred. 2008. Limits of Horror: Technology, Bodies, Gothic. Manchester & New York: Manchester University Press.
Fletcher, John.1988. "Versions of Masquerade", Screen, 29 (3): 43–70.
Punter, David and Glennis Byron. 2004. The Gothic. Oxford: Blackwell.
Russ, Joanna. 1975. ““Someone's Trying to Kill Me and I Think It’s My Husband: The Modern Gothic,” Journal of Popular Culture VI (4): 666 – 691.
Waldman, Diane. 1983. “At last I can tell it to someone!" feminine point of view and subjectivity in the Gothic romance”, Cinema Journal 23 (2): 29-40.
See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
- evidence an in-depth knowledge and sophisticated critical understanding of the history and modes of "the Gothic", both as an individual cinematic genre and as elements that can be employed or referenced within other genres (egs film noir, horror);
- display an advanced ability to analyse the specifically filmic methods of achieving Gothic "tone" and an awareness of the conscious return to traditional methods in later examples of the genre;
- demonstrate awareness of the pervasiveness of the Gothic in American cinema during its first main cycle in the 1940s and understanding of both its return and the possible reasons for this, in more recent examples;
- prove their advanced understanding of the correspondences between the American form of the genre and similar products in other cinemas, for example those of Europe and Asia, both contemporaneous with the original cycle, and in more recent returns to its preoccupations.
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