Specialization in Gothic Studies


Lead Faculty: Franz Potter

National University’s MA in English: Gothic Studies Specialization offers students a unique opportunity to explore this popular genre through novels, films, television, and in popular culture. This specialization (the only one of its kind in the US) allows students to focus on key areas of the genre while exploring the diverse representations of Gothic horror from the 18th Century to the present.

The Specialization in Gothic Studies provides a balanced and comprehensive program of graduate study in literature as well as a rigorous examination of the historical, theoretical and critical reception of the Gothic, from its origins in the eighteenth century through to a range of contemporary works in both literature and film. The program is appropriate for students seeking preparation for doctoral study or college-level teaching in English and related fields, or general cultural enrichment.

Program Learning Outcomes

  • Research relevant criticism in sustained analyses and interpretations of specific works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.
  • Evaluate the relevance and validity of different theoretical approaches (e.g., historicist, biographical, etc.) to the understanding of specific texts.
  • Compare informed critical discussions of theoretical issues pertaining to textual analysis.
  • Synthesize current theory and practice in the study of Gothic literature.
  • Evaluate the complexities of canon formation.
  • Assess informed critical discussions, both oral and written, the works and criticism of the Gothic literary period and movement

What You Study

Students who seek an MA in English with Specialization in Gothic studies are able to study a wide range of Gothic topics in both core and elective courses. Topics explore both structures and themes in a variety of texts and media and as well as critical and theoretical approaches to the Gothic.

Core Gothic Units:

ENG 620A Dark Romanticism

This course explores the darker side of Romanticism from Byronic heroes to religious extremism. We look at Romanticism’s complex and often contentious relationship with the Gothic not only in literature, but in politics and the aesthetics of the period.

Texts studied may include works by Mary Wollstonecraft, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, Mary Robinson, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, John Keats, Helen Maria Williams, Felicia Dorothea Hemans, Sarah Wilkinson, Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764) and James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824).

ENG 620A Sensation Fiction

In this course students explore Sensational fiction in works by Dickens, Reynolds, Collins and Braddon focusing on the influence of the Gothic genre.

Texts studied may include works from Charles Dickens, George W. M. Reynolds’s The Mysteries of London (1845), Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White (1859), Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret (1862).

ENG 620B American Gothic

This course explores American Gothic from the 18th century to the present.

Texts studied may include Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland; or, the Transformation (1798), Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw (1898),  Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House (1959) and a collection of short stories. See sample syllabus here.

ENG 640 Graveyard Poetry

This course explores the complex world of Graveyard Poetry in order to construct a better understanding of a period marked by intellectualism, exploration, hope, horror, gender- all helping us to see this ‘Age of Reason’ as it changed the world.

Texts studied may include Alexander Pope’s Essay On Man (Epistle I) (1733-34)Thomas Parnell’s A Night-Piece on Death (1722), Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (1751), Thomas Warton’s The Pleasures of Melancholy (1747), Robert Blair’s The Grave (1743), Edward Young’s Night Thoughts (1742-45), William Cowper’s The Task (Book IV: The Winter Evening) (1785) and James Thomson’s The Seasons (Winter) (1726).

ENG 668 Horror Films

This course looks at celluloid horror.

ENG 680A Gothic Literature

This course introduces the Gothic through its major works from Walpole to Maturin.

Texts studied may include, amongst others, Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764), Matthew Lewis’ The Monk (1796), Ann Radcliffe’s The Italian (1797), Charlotte Dacre’s Zofloya (1806), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), Karl Friedrich Kahlert’s The Necromancer; or, The Tale of the Black Forest (1794) and Charles Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820). See sample syllabus here.

ENG 680A Modern Gothic

This course explores modern manifestations of Gothic horror from writers such as Michael McDowell, Dan Simmons and Stephen King.

Texts studied may include Michael McDowell’s The Elementals (1981), William Blatty’s The Exorcist (1971) and Dan Simmons’s Summer of Night (1991).

ENG 680A Vampires

In this course we explore the rise (and fall?) of vampires from Polidori to Stoker and Le Fanu to Stephen King.

Texts studied may include Lord Byron’s  Fragment of a Novel (1819), John Polidori’s Vampyre (1819), Jame Malcolm Rymer’s Varney the Vampire (1845) Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), J. S. Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1872) and Stephen King’s Salem Lot (1975).

ENG 680B Female Gothic

This course focuses on the ‘Female Gothic’, victimization and the patriarchy.

Texts studied may include Ann Radcliffe’s Romance of the Forest (1791), Elizabeth Bonhote’s Bungay Castle (1796) Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (1818) and Daphne Du Mauier’s Rebecca (1938).

ENG 680B Gothic Prisons/Romantic Spaces

This course closely examines works built around the themes of sex, confinement and marriage in the 18th and 19th centuries. A course such as this helps us to understand what (and how) a novel “does” by analyzing the evolution (and corruption) of the domestic space. By understanding the ways in which the sociopaths, social norms and gender stereotypes change over time, we can better understand those changes occurring in the culture.

Texts studied may include Elizabeth Bonhote’s Bungay Castle (1796), Ann Radcliffe’s The Italian (1797), Charlotte Dacre’s Zofloya (1806), Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847), Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847) and a selection of short stories.

ENG 690A Ann Radcliffe

This course explores the influential works of Ann Radcliffe.

Texts studied may include Radcliffe’s Sicilian Romance (1790), Romance of the Forest (1791)The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), and The Italian (1797).

ENG 690B E. A. Poe

This course explores the evolution of the Gothic through the works of Poe.

Texts studied will include all of Poe’s work.