Monday, 27th June, 5pm BST
As Lisa Kroger reminds us in The Gothic Wild (2009), the landscape is more than a trope in Gothic literature. Descriptions of built and natural environments often convey an array of moods, highlight character development, capture political or social turmoil, and much more besides. Staples of the mode, castles, graveyards and churches typically host major and even concluding scenes. We associate caves, dungeons and asylums with nefarious subplots, difficult themes, or abandoned characters. Sublime mountains, perilous seas, or darkened forests delight and terrify us in equal measure. Isolated or over-populated, rural or urban, expansive or all-consuming, Gothic environments remain central to our reading experience.
Our June seminar explores a range of Gothic environments from the eighteenth century to the present day. We will begin with the seascapes of Radcliffe, Smith and Shelley, before traversing deathscapes in French writing, and then exploring Lydia Millett’s climate-change literature.
Joan Passey (University of Bristol): “Instant death on ev’ry wave appears”: The Gothic Seascapes of Ann Radcliffe, Charlotte Smith, and Mary Shelley
Christie Margrave (University of East Anglia): Deathscapes in Early Nineteenth-Century French Women’s Writing
Ruth Bienstock Anolik (Villanova University): Out of the Castle, into the Storm: Lydia Millett’s Climate-change Gothic
Watch past events from our seminar series on our YouTube channel
Inaugural seminar: Mary Shelley beyond Frankenstein, Monday 30th August, 5PM BST
2018 marked 200 years since the first publication of Shelley’s most famous novel, and 2023 will offer the opportunity to celebrate Frankenstein once more, as we note the bicentenary of the second edition. However, as our project seeks to examine the understudied and perhaps undervalued aspects of Gothic women writers, we want to begin our discussions with an exploration of the other Mary Shelley. Far more than just a teenage prodigy or simply a ‘one-hit wonder’, Mary Shelley lived until her early 50s and composed powerful literature throughout her lifetime in a variety of genres: including novels, non-fiction, poetry, travelogues, short stories, and translations. Our very first seminar was designed to offer a snapshot of the breadth of Mary Shelley’s work beyond her most famous text.
Professor Nora Crook (Anglia Ruskin University) ‘The hidden women in Mary Shelley’s “Lives of Eminent Literary and Scientific Men”’
Dr Anna Mercer (Cardiff University) ‘Gothic Women and Self-Sacrifice in Italy: Why we need to reread Mary Shelley’s Valperga’
Dr Valentina Varinelli (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore), ‘Mary Shelley’s Anglo-Italian Identity and Her Role as Cultural and Political Mediator’
Gothic Revolutions, Monday 27th September 2021, 5pm BST
Exploring Gothic responses to revolutions and rebellions in the Romantic period
‘The Age of Chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever. Never, never more, shall we behold the generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom’
Thus wrote Edmund Burke in his Reflections on the Revolution in France in 1790 – yet whilst Burke feared the French Revolution would be a death knell for culture and the arts, it was in fact anything but. In particular, the Gothic offered an ideal mode in which to explore old and new terrors, as well as the novel possibilities of a revolutionary world. After all, the Marquis de Sade famously referred to the Gothic boom of the 1790s as ‘the necessary fruit of the revolutionary tremors felt by the whole of Europe’.
For our September event, the Gothic Women Project invites you to a seminar exploring how the Gothic responds to the realities and ideologies of revolution in the broader Romantic period. ‘Gothic Revolutions’ will explore how the work of women writers in particular intersects with revolutionary movements and moments across the globe. With papers exploring responses to the Haitian Revolution, the French Revolution, and rebellion in Ireland, we welcome discussion of how we can interpret the revolutions and upheavals of our own era by looking back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Dr Maisha Wester (University of Sheffield), ‘Black Jacobins or Bloody Barbarians: the Haitian Revolution’s Gothic Impact’
Dr Christina Morin (University of Limerick), ‘Horrible tumults in Ireland’: Reading Rebellion in Irish Female Gothic
Dr Lauren Nixon (Nottingham Trent University), ‘A soldier for me’?: Framing British masculinity and nationality in women’s Gothic writing during the Revolutionary Wars
Ghost Stories (A Halloween special!), Monday 25th October, 5pm BST
In celebration of Halloween, this month’s Gothic Women seminar is all about ghost stories!
Be they tales whispered in the darkness or stories told by the fireside, the ghost story has long been a staple of the Gothic mode. Many Gothic writers of the Romantic period wrote ghost stories for magazines and giftbooks such as ‘The Keepsake’, whilst a number of Gothic novels feature tales told within the narratives themselves. But although ghost stories are a key Gothic convention, their significance as a narrative form has often been overlooked.
The Gothic Women October seminar will explore the ghost story and the supernatural as a global phenomenon, showcasing its significance in women’s Gothic writing.
Emma Liggins (Manchester Metropolitan University), ‘Meddling with sorcery’: Spiritualism, the occult and forsaken women in the 1890s Ghost Stories of Lettice Galbraith
Agnieska Łowczanin (The University of Lodz), ‘Anna Mostowska: the first female writer of ghost stories in Polish’
Kathleen Hudson (Anne Arundel Community College/US Naval Academy), ‘Ghost stories in Regina Maria Roche’s Clermont (1798)’
Ann Radcliffe beyond Udolpho, Monday 29th November, 5pm GMT
Considering the works of the Great Enchantress, Ann Radcliffe, beyond her most famous novel
Once called ‘The Great Enchantress’, Ann Radcliffe is one of the most significant figures in the early Gothic canon. A hugely popular and commercially successful writer, it is often her fourth novel – The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) – that Radcliffe is most well remembered by: it is the novel that Catherine Morland eagerly reads in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, and has been the inspiration for modern productions such as Guillermo del Toro’s Gothic film Crimson Peak. Yet Radcliffe’s body of work goes far beyond Udolpho, across novels, travel writing, and essays.
For the November Gothic Women seminar, we will be looking into Radcliffe’s identity as an author beyond just The Mysteries of Udolpho and exploring her legacy in the Gothic at large.
Elizabeth Bobbitt, (Schreiner University) Ann Radcliffe: Looking Beyond the 1790s to Radcliffe’s Later Works
Deborah Russell, (University of York) The Politics of Place in The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne
Angela Wright, (University of Sheffield) The Afterlives of The Mysteries of Udolpho
Gothic Bodies, Monday 17th January 2022, 5pm GMT
Gendered bodies, monstrous bodies, bodies in pain: our January seminar explores one of the Gothic’s key concerns
The Gothic uncovers, explores, and fosters terrors. The body often functions as the locus of such fear, being imagined as the site of both monstrosity and suffering. Pain, passion, sickness, contagion, incarceration, melancholy, madness – these fundamentally embodied experiences lie at the heart of the mode. In focusing on the corporeal, Gothic texts can also examine the operations of power on the individual, interrogating dynamics of gender, sexuality, race, dis/ability, nationality, and class. And, of course, Gothic writing also works on the reader’s body, aiming, as Mary Shelley put it, to “awaken thrilling horror […] curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart.”
Our first event of 2022 will explore the role of embodiment in women’s Gothic writing, examining the fascination and fear of Gothic bodies across different forms.
Lucy Cogan (Maynooth University), ‘The Female Alcoholic as Monstrous Grotesque in Maria Edgeworth’s The Lottery’
Laura Kremmel (Humanities Department, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology), ‘Unfeeling Bones: Charlotte Dacre, Melancholy, and Pain Management’
Franz Potter (National University, San Diego), ‘”A very delicate state of health”: The Diseased Body in Sarah Wilkinson’s Gothic Chapbooks’
The Gothic Women Writers of the Minerva Press, Thursday 10th March 2022, 5pm GMT
An Online Workshop for Postgraduate and Early Career Researchers
In recent years there has been a considerable rise in scholarly interest around William Lane’s Minerva Press, exemplified by the recent special issue of Romantic Intertextualities: Literature and Print Culture, 1780-1840 (2020) and the publication of Elizabeth Neiman’s Minerva’s Gothics: The Politics and Poetics of Romantic Exchange, 1780-1820 (2019). While many of the Press’ gothic women writers remain in obscurity due to the reputation of Lane’s Press as a ‘factory of cheap, formulaic novels’, reclaiming these women can in fact contribute to new formations of the Romantic canon, in turn destabilising the gendered binaries that persist within evaluations of what constitutes literary value (Neiman, p.1). As Kathleen Hudson notes in her introduction to Women’s Authorship and the Early Gothic: Legacies and Innovations (2020): ‘in seeking new paths into the gothic, we must remember that the mode itself is a study of lost, hidden and marginalised voices’ (p.18).
This PGR/ECR online workshop offers a panel of speakers focusing on ‘the hidden and marginalised voices’ of Minerva Press and raises the question: why reclaim Minerva’s gothic fiction now? Participants will have the opportunity to contribute their ideas to an informal discussion regarding the Minerva Press and its place within studies of Romanticism and the gothic. A key quotes sheet and bibliography will be circulated in advance of the event.
17:00-17:10 – Welcome
17:10-17:50 – Flash talks from panel (Beth Brigham, Colette Davies and Fern Pullan)
17:50-18:00 – Q&A
18:00-18:30 – Roundtable Discussion
This workshop is organised by our Gothic Women Associate, Beth Brigham. Beth is a postgraduate researcher at Northumbria University funded by Northern Bridge Consortium/AHRC. Her thesis places eighteenth- and nineteenth-century gothic fiction within the history of medical professionalisation and reform, and she is particularly interested in exploring how the medical appropriation of gothic narrative, convention and trope reshaped cultural conceptions of the body during the bodysnatching era. Beth is an associate of the Gothic Women project and a recent recipient of the British Association for Romantic Studies’ Stephen Copley Research award. Her forthcoming chapter on the Minerva Press novel The Horrors of Oakendale Abbey (1797) is due to be published in an edited volume with Manchester University Press in 2022.
Gothic Women Today
A Public Humanities Panel for Early Career Researchers
Thursday, April 14th 17:00BST / 9:00PST
Do you want to share your knowledge of Gothic women writers with the world? Do you analyze the latest Gothic films according to 18C genre conventions? Do you want to meet like-minded fans and scholars of women’s writing beyond your university? Then join our discussion of how we can engage with the field of Public Humanities in this panel for early career (and beyond!) researchers. Hear Dr. Kim Simpson (Chawton House), Dr. Corin Throsby (Cambridge), Dr. Courtney Floyd and Dr. Eleanor Dumbill (Victorian Scribblers), and Dr. Sarah Faulkner (U of Washington) speak about their work bringing Gothic women writers alive and to the people. After brief presentations, there will be time for questions and discussion!
Dr Kim Simpson (@AmatoryAnon) is Deputy Director at Chawton House. She holds a PhD in eighteenth-century literature (amatory fiction) from the University of Kent, and worked between the University of Southampton and Chawton House for 5 years, before making the move to the heritage sector full-time in 2021.
Dr. Corin Throsby teaches at the University of Cambridge and is one of the BBC’s New Generation Thinkers. She regularly appears on radio programs and podcasts across the BBC network and presents Literary Pursuits for BBC Radio 3. Her research is focussed on early forms of fandom and celebrity culture.
Dr. Eleanor Dumbill, co-host of the Victorian Scribblers podcast, holds a Ph.D. in English and Publishing from Loughborough University. Her thesis, ‘Vanished Authors and Invisible Women’ focused on three nineteenth-century women writers—George Eliot, Frances Milton Trollope, and Frances Eleanor Trollope—exploring the formation of their lasting reputations. Drawing on the theories of Pierre Bourdieu, she questions the extent to which their personal and professional networks relationships have affected the reception of these three authors and why so little research has been done around the Trollopes.
Dr. Courtney Floyd, co-host of the Victorian Scribblers podcast, holds a Ph.D. in Victorian literature and print culture from the University of Oregon. She launched Victorian Scribblers in 2017, while studying for exams. Her dissertation, “Printing the Other Victorians: Nineteenth-Century Fictions of Embodiment and Identity,” examined the way that Victorian print and media objects were seen and used as tools for corporeal self-fashioning, particularly by those whose embodiments and identities were considered non-normative. Courtney is also a scribbler in her own right: she writes speculative fiction and audio drama.
Dr. Sarah Faulkner teaches at the University of Washington in Seattle. She holds a PhD in English (18/19th century British women’s writing) from U of Washington. Her dissertation argued that Romantic novelist Jane Porter uses paratext in her national novels (notably her 1810 bestseller The Scottish Chiefs) to craft an image of Britain that supports her political and personal goals. She has organized multiple public humanities events for the Seattle community, including JaneFest 2017 and Frankenreads @ UW.
This workshop is organised by our Gothic Women Associate, Sarah Faulkner.
Monday, 25th April, 5pm BST
Monday, 23rd May, 5pm BST
“Gothic has, in a sense, always been ‘queer’”, argue William Hughes and Andrew Smith, “poised astride the uneasy cultural boundary that separates the acceptable and familiar from the troubling and different”. From its early days, Gothic literature’s interest in hidden histories allowed it to explore things that went unsaid in mainstream culture. Its evocation of the strange and fearful offered the opportunity to reconfigure and reclaim ideas of the monstrous and the weird. Its focus on transgression made it possible to destabilise assumptions about sexuality and gender. Terry Castle has claimed that the lesbian was “ghosted” from Western literature for centuries. What better place to find that ghost – and all her queer siblings – than the Gothic?
Our May seminar explores a range of Gothic texts from the long nineteenth century. We’ll discuss how these works trouble dominant narratives, generating new approaches to desire and identity – and new ways of thinking about Gothic Women.
William Brewer (Appalachian State University): Monsters, Gender Nonconformity, and Sexual (Dis)orientation in Mary Robinson’s Walsingham
Ardel Haefele-Thomas (City College of San Francisco): Decadent Ghosts: Vernon Lee’s Haunted Queer Aesthetics
Evan Hayles Gledhill (University of Reading): Fear of a Diseased Future: Gothic, Feminism and Eugenics in the work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman