Gothic Fiction

Autumn Term, 1995

Materials from the course are archived here, including student reports (text and graphics from project reports), and links to related internet resources.

Gothic Fiction Course / Reports
Computer resources / Internet Resources

Gothic Fiction Course

ENGL 450: Gothic Fiction (Romantic Prose), is a one term course. The main novels being studied are Walpole's Castle of Otranto, Radcliffe's The Italian, Lewis's The Monk, Godwin's Caleb Williams, Shelley's Frankenstein, Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer, and Hogg's Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. Students are also choosing to study one or more other novels from the period, in particular for a project that is likely to be carried out by small groups of students.


In this section, look for reports from students and student groups, and any reports I make based on our work in class.

October 20. -- Caleb Williams

Reports and diagrams provided by three of the students groups to report on the novel: Group 1 (graphic: 11K) on substitutes for the supernatural; Group 4, on anarchism; and Group 5, on oppression in the novel. NB. these were the basis for short verbal reports in class.

Group 8 reported on the honour code and the legal code. For further information on the Black Act, under which Tyrrel arrests Hawkins, see this brief note.

The course was evaluated on November 6 by 27 students. A report on the evaluation is now available, which prints a selection of students' comments and a brief response from me.


These are the projects that were presented in class on November 15th and 17th. Follow this link for graphics and reports from the projects.


  1. On the supernatural and position of women in gothic fiction. Texts: Northanger Abbey, The Last Man, The Vampyre; Vindication of the Rights of Woman (Alexandra, Jennifer)
  2. Women in gothic fiction, in relation to: spirituality, the sublime, class (fallen & paranoia), as heroes, and fathers, father figures, and lovers. Texts: The Italian, The Monk, Mary, and The Wrongs of Woman (Kim, Liz, Tyra, Verna, Rozita)
  3. Women's issues,e.g., education, law, sexuality. Texts: Secresy, The Wrongs of Woman; perhaps Vindication of the Rights of Woman (Tannis, Gwen, Nicole, Tracey, Anna)
  4. The supernatural: its utility, how it worked, its effects on structure, affect. Texts: Northanger Abbey, Mysteries of Udolpho (Matthew, Monique, Michelle, Bonnie, Phillip)


  1. Influence of medieval literature on gothic, especially chivalry, the supernatural. Texts: Old English Baron, St Leon. (Sonya, Jodi, Tracey, Michael)
  2. Terror vs. horror: psychological vs. physical; early vs. late Gothic. Texts: The Monk, Northanger Abbey, Dracula, Vathek, Narrative of A Gordon Pym (Shelley, Val, Slobodan, Corinna, Koreen)
  3. Religion: salvation or condemnation (with special regard to Roman Catholicism). Texts: St Leon, The Monk, The Italian, The Romance of the Forest (Amber, Maggie, Melissa, Dave)
  4. Polarities (good and evil, extremes, inflexibility . . .). Texts: The Monk, Secresy, The Wrongs of Woman (Steve, Melanie, Mark, Hilarie, Matilda)

Computer resources

One of the main resources for the course is a Hypertext on British Romantic Writing, which has an extensive set of documents and graphics for the study of Gothic fiction. These include reviews of the novels in the journals of the period, detailed summaries of the novels, and links to various documents for background reading (such as articles from the period on Sensibility, or on the Inquisition). For some of the novels, graphics are provided that offer maps, or scenes of the main locations of the novel. Some bibliographical assistance is also available.

The hypertext is currently accessible in two computer labs on campus: BioSci CW 403, and Tory B39. In both labs a Romanticism icon on the Windows main screen, offers two programs: double click on HRW to launch the hypertext. To browse through the documents requires only the use of the left and right mouse buttons (left to initiate a link, i.e., to go forward; right to return from a link, such as a full screen graphic, or to go back to a previous document). I add documents and graphics to the hypertext on a fairly regular basis, so it is worth checking to see what is new every couple of weeks or so.

The other program available here is TACT. You'll get a handout to help you get around this program. Note that the way it is configured at the moment, the texts available through TACT are downloaded from the server every time you start the program. This takes a while to do, so be patient while staring at a blank screen! Texts available include The Italian, The Monk, and Frankenstein (1831).

Here are links to the CNS pages for information on lab schedules: BioSci CW 403; Tory B39. And follow this link for general information about the instructional computing labs on campus.

Internet Resources

A very useful Romanticism Chronology is being compiled by Laura Mandell and others. This is still being developed, but it already provides an important resource for following the dates of significant publications, political developments, etc.

A new Romanticism home page and journal (from Oxford University). The first issue of the journal was published in February. It is expected to appear quarterly.

Developed by Alan Liu, with contributions from many others, The Voice of the Shuttle is a rich resource for internet links in all the humanities disciplines. For Romanticism studies in particular, go direct to the Romanticism page. There are several links, here, for example, to Gothic authors, such as Mary Shelley. But it also offers links to poets, political writers, and the fiction of the period. Indispensable!

Victorian Literature web, at Brown University: a chronology, and some useful information that overlaps with the Romantic/Gothic period.

Romanticism scholars. Here are two home pages with links to a couple of relevant courses, where useful information has been placed on the net:

For information on TACT, developed at the University of Toronto, see this web page demonstration of the software.

Closer to home: University of Alberta Library System information is available from the library's home page; or, more specifically, see the home page for the Rutherford library. For resources in English literature, see these pointers.

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Last updated Sunday, March 17, 1995