Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Recollections - 2013-14 Session Four: Jeanette Winterson's The Daylight Gate and the end of the our Autumn Semester Schedule

Last week the Gothic Reading Group ended its first semester of the 2013-14 year with a vibrant session on Jeanette Winterson's The Daylight Gate. The novel itself wasn't particularly festive, but its atmosphere was suitably winterey - and that's without resorting to terrible author-name puns. Here Mark offers a brief recap of the discussion last week before previewing things to come and wishing all members and readers a very Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Sources and Resources - Background and Materials for Winterson

The Gothic Reading Group meets for its last session of 2013 this week: capping off a semester that's seen us travel from 21st century horror cinema to transatlantic 19th century fictionalisations of madness and now back (via a bit of cosmic horror) to Jeanette Winterson's 2012 novel based on the infamous Lancashire Witch trials. As you might expect from a twenty-first century re-telling of a piece of seventeenth century 'history' (and all its intervening mythologisations) there's a lot of interesting context and background available to inform our discussion of this text. In the following post Richard Gough Thomas explores some of these and others some resources for those interested in the story (or stories) of Pendle.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Recollections - 2013-14 Session Three: H.P. Lovecraft's "The Rats in the Walls" (1924), "The Call of Cthulhu" (1928) and "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" (1936)

For our third session this year the Gothic Reading Group continued its exploration of more 'contemporary' Gothic by looking at three short pieces by the seminal early twentieth-century horror author, H.P. Lovecraft. One of the key questions our discussion revolved around was Lovecraft's relation to the Gothic. This was partly because the question was an interesting one (effectively posed by the writer himself, who wrote a long and well-informed essay on "Supernatural Horror in Literature") and partly because Mark kept bringing it up and wouldn't let it go. As collective penance, Mark has taken it upon himself to summarise the session here. This is penance for Mark, because he is an eighteenth-century specialist who knows relatively little about twentieth-century horror; this is penance for everyone else because Mark is an eighteenth-century specialist who knows relatively little about twentieth-century horror. . . but he does know where to find ridiculous youtube videos. Read on for ridiculous youtube videos.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Recollections - 2013-14 Session Two: Edgar Allen Poe's "Berenice" (1835) and Charles Dickens's "A Madman's Manuscript" (1836)

This week sees our third meeting this term (and ninth session overall, fact-fans) but before we get stuck into Lovecraft, here'sKate Gadsby Macesumming up our last session on Poe and Dickens and highlighting some of the points around which our conversation turned.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Sources and Resources - Background and materials for H.P. Lovecraft

Ahead of next week's Lovecraft session we've got another great blog post by visiting Gothic Reading Group member, Richard Gough Thomas. Whether you're new to Lovecraft and don't know your Shoggoths from your Azathoths or if you're just curious about sources for Lovecraft scholarship and adaptations, Richard's post will have something for you.

Update - Stories for Lovecraft Session

A very quick update here as Mark confirms the additional texts for the Gothic Reading Group's upcoming third session on H.P. Lovecraft.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Foreshadowings - H.P. Lovecraft as a Gothic writer

It's almost time for our third session this year and this time we're looking at a huge figure in the canon of horror fiction and an author synonymous with the sub-genre of 'weird fiction.' But is H.P. Lovecraft a 'Gothic' writer? How should we approach him as such? What kind of devices, familiar from the Gothic tradition, does his brand of fiction rely upon? Thankfully, Kathleen has some interesting thoughts on these questions to help us get started.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Sources and Resources - Surfing the web for Dickens and Poe

We've not long to go until the second Gothic Reading Group session for this term. In the wake of the previous introductory post on Dickens and Poe's tales of 'madness,' Mark has been hunting around the internet for interesting supplementary materials. Here are a few of his favourites. They might offer a bit of stimulus ahead of the the meeting on Wednesday - if you've found anything interesting yourself, do let us know.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Recollections - 2013-14 Session One: Fede Alvarez's Evil Dead

On the 16th of October the Gothic Reading Group held its first session of the 2013-14 academic year: screening and discussing Fede Alvarez's Evil Dead(2013). This was a first for us in a couple of other senses too: being the most contemporary 'text' we'd looked at together and our most graphic piece of 'horror' so far. Though members were quick to question the film's internal logic (and physics...), we can safely say that none of the eighteenth-century dramas, nineteenth-century monster narratives or even twentieth-century films that we've looked at before said quite such an emphatic 'farewell to arms.' And cheeks. And eyeballs. Here Mark has a crack at summarising the group's response to the film and picking out keynotes in our discussion.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Foreshadowings - Texts and Contexts for Poe and Dickens

Our first session last week was a great success, with lots of interesting discussion following a screening of The Evil Dead. There'll be a blog follow-up in the next few days, but, in the meantime, we've the second session of this year's Gothic Reading Group to look forward to next week. This time we are actually readingsomething. Two things, in fact. By way of an introduction to the material, here's Mark linking comedy cartoons and telling you to go read entire volumes of a nineteenth-century American magazine. . .

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Through the Vaults: Remembering Last Year's Meetings. . .

We hope all Gothic Reading Group members (old and new) are settling into their courses at Sheffield and enjoying encountering new texts, authors and subjects (Gothic or otherwise) as part of their studies. It is, of course, the first meeting of the Gothic Reading Group next week. We know people are busy getting to grips with module reading lists and new research projects, so we haven't actually set any reading at all for the first session: all you need to do is come along, watch the new version of The Evil Dead,eat some cake and take part in a bit of discussion. One of the great things about the GRG is that it brings together people from all levels of the School of English in a relaxed round-table. This means our discussions benefit from the experience and expertise of our individual members, but aren't restricted to any pre-defined topics and can wander as we see fit. Last year's meetings were a great example of this. As we look forward to the first meeting of 2013-14, you might like to follow Mark as he steps tentatively into the dusty vaults of 2012-13... Careful as you go: mind the rusted daggers, step lightly around the giant helmet, don't touch that black curtain and please be especially wary of the cake-wrappers on the floor...

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Foreshadowings - 'Reading' The Evil Dead

We've only a couple of weeks to go until our first session for this academic year. In the meantime, we hope everyone's enjoying the beginning of the new term and getting stuck into some Gothic studies. Here at the Gothic Reading Group blog we've already had two great posts to help set us up for our screening of The Evil Dead. Kathleen Hudson has taken us through some of the hallmarks of the original series and asked how and why they might (or might not) make it across the reboot intact. Meanwhile, Adam James Smith has offered a way to think about the connections between contemporary horror cinema and the truth claims associated with original Gothic texts and their ability to frighten readers in the eighteenth century.This time, Mark Bennett ponders something that relates to both previous posts: homing in on one particular (and fairly obvious) trope in the original Evil Dead films, thinking about its relationship to an eighteenth-century Gothic and wondering how it will be treated in the new reboot.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Reflections - Eighteenth Century Gothic and Contemporary Horror Cinema

One of things we try to achieve in the Gothic Reading Group is a balance of different media, including non-print materials. This allows us to reflect a little on what kind of legacy or influence the "Gothic" exerts in different mediums and in different periods: asking what it is that makes a text "Gothic" or how an understanding of the "Gothic" that might be useful in approaching other texts. It also means we get to watch movies. This semester, we're starting with a viewing of the recent Evil Dead reboot, but a small group of us are also off to see Insidious Chapter 2 for a bit of "pre-season" Gothic. Ahead of that, we thought we'd reblog the following excellent post on the School of English blog by one of our organising team: Adam James Smith. Here Adam tackles exactly the sort of questions posed above and looks at the way in which some key features of the Gothic's original mediation are alive and well in a burgeoning sub-genre of contemporary horror cinema...

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

2013 Autumn Semester Schedule Announced

It's taken some cross-referencing of faded manuscripts, forgotten tomes and other academic commitments, but we now have a schedule prepared for the Gothic Reading Group. So, if you're a new or returning student... here are the most important dates for your diary this semester.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Next Text? - The Evil Dead

The new academic year is very nearly upon us and we'll soon be finalising a schedule for the Gothic Reading Group, including picking a text for our first meeting. With that in mind, here's the first in what will hopefully be a semi-regular "feature" here on the GRG site: a brief blog post taking a look at a potential text. Our blogger on this occasion is Kathleen Hudson, a second-year PhD student in the school of English. Here Kathleen takes a look at theEvil Deadfranchise (a strong contender for a debut film?) pondering what it is that separates the recent 2013 reboot from the original series, what kind of generic shift occurs en route and how vital a sense of the Unheimlichmight be in producing the kind of experiences appropriate to a certain type of horror cinema.