English R1B

Reading & Composition: The Gothic: Revivals and Survivals

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
9 Spring 2012 Cannon, Benjamin Zenas
MWF 1-2 225 Wheeler


The word “Gothic” still evokes stock images of darkness, decay, and danger, from the mouldering Castle Dracula to the inky bayous of True Blood. The source of these images is ultimately the Gothic novel tradition. From The Castle of Otranto to Dracula and beyond, these novels are filled with images of a dangerous past that threatens the present. Yet for much of the 19th century, the Gothic was also a powerful tool for imagining the transformation both of aesthetics and society. The Gothic Revival in architecture brought back “free” medieval forms as an answer to the rigidity of the classical tradition; it also made powerful arguments for the dignity of labor in answer to the alienation of the industrial revolution. This revaluation of the Gothic was not limited to architecture: in painting, the Pre-Raphaelite movement proclaimed the purity and spirituality of medieval art techniques; the Arts and Crafts movement adopted the medieval guild system as the basis for a revolution in industrial design. This class will consider the Gothic in both of its guises--as a hopeful revival and as a dangerous survival. In doing so, we will consider as well the more fundamental question of modernity's relationship with history; is the past a repository of vital "natural" traditions with which modernity has lost touch? Or is it rather a dangerous force that must be overcome or suppressed? Slideshows and tours of Berkeley's Victorian revival architecture will supplement our readings of major Gothic novels. Students will write three progressively longer papers over the course of the semester, incorporating original research. This class fulfills the second part of the Reading and Composition requirement. 


Readings:  Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto; Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre.  A course reader, including: Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles; John Ruskin, from Stones of Venice; William Morris, from the SPAB Manifesto; Sigmund Freud, from Civilization and its Discontents and The Uncanny; Michael Lewis, from The Gothic Revival.

Film:  Twilight



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