Saturday, 20 December 2014

Announcement: Reimagining the Gothic: An Interdisciplinary Symposium

Many thanks to all Gothic Reading Group attendees over the past term for your contribution to meetings and the disccusions they've generated. We're already working on plans for the next set of meetings and for a range of other activities - including a trip to the Terror and Wonder exhibition, currently running at the British Library (more on that shortly). For now, though, here's GRG oganiser, Lauren Nixon, with some information on an outreach event planned for later in the year.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Foreshadowings: The Woman in Black and Reading Group Announcements

How quickly the year flies by!  This week will be our last Gothic Reading Group meeting of the 2014 academic year – we’ve covered all sorts of topics from post-colonialism to comic books, Alfred Hitchcock to Sleepy Hollow!  We’re going to wrap up our year with another film: The Woman in Black (2012) film starring Daniel Radcliffe and based (loosely) on the Susan Hill novel of the same name.  As ever, the question “But is it Gothic?” will surely pop up in our discussion, as well as such corkers as “is Daniel Radcliffe woefully miscast?” “Which is the best – the film, the play, or the novel?” and “what makes a Gothic ghost story?”  

Monday, 24 November 2014

Foreshadowings: Early American Gothic

Is it that time already? The Gothic Reading Group meets for its third session of 2014-15 on Wednesday and this time the subject is early American Gothic: a sub-genre of sorts that has generated plenty of critical discussion, but isn't always as central as it might be to the historical development of the Gothic  and its status as an international mode. Never fear though, the Gothic Reading Group is here to fix this in the only way we know how: with cake and death. As the compere of sorts for this session, Kathleen Hudson will take you through what to expect:

Monday, 3 November 2014

2014 Halloween Blog Series, Part Two

Halloween doesn't necessarily end on the morning of the 1st of November. Much like Christmas there's a hazy afterglow: a period in which the festivities seem to linger whilst the world slowly gets back to normal.

 Of course, in the case of Halloween, this is less likely to involve messing about with presents or spending a bit more time with treasured family and far more likely to involve not being able to get all the fake cobweb stuff off the windowsill, working out who to give all the leftover lollipops and haribo to and wondering what on Earth to do with the giant pumpkin that's slowly decomposing across several of your front steps. 

Do not despair, however. The good things about Halloween have also remained with us, including the next installment in our special series of blog posts. So sit back, forget about recycling the pumpkin, don't worry about getting the fake blood out of the tablecloth (you won't be able to)  and let Mary take you back to Sunnydale:

Thursday, 30 October 2014

2014 Halloween Blog Series, Part One

As you'll no doubt be aware, today is October the 30th: a date known around the world as All Hallows Eve... Eve. It's when the witches are scrubbing their cauldrons, the vampires are checking their reflections (and swearing a bit), the werewolves are consulting lunar calendars and adjusting their costume accordingly and the giant helmets are being hoisted into the sky on big invisible cranes.

To celebrate, we've chosen All Hallows Eve... Eve as the starting point for a special series of blogs. If Halloween is about the annual influx of the Gothic into popular culture (with costumes, parties, and the odd dodgy cinematic cash-in) then there's no better time to think about the way in which modern popular media itself marks the occasion of Halloween.

So, in the first of a series of blogs, GRG regular and first year PhD student, Mary Going, is going to begin looking at how a classic of modern 'Gothic' television takes up the opportunities offered by the 'Halloween Episode'.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Foreshadowings: Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea

The new academic year  is still young, but the Gothic Reading Group is well underway. Our first meeting two weeks ago was a big success, with lots of new and old faces, including students and staff. This Wednesday we meet again for our first text: Jean Rhys's 1966 novel Wide Sargasso Sea. Famous as a re-imagining of the Jane Eyre story, this text invites us to reconsider the convergence of a set of motifs that have become a classic of Victorian Gothic and of post-colonial criticism. This means that our perennial inquiry 'is it Gothic?' can be accompanied by some more nuanced questions: What is it about the Gothic that lends itself to this kind of re-imagining? And how important is the cultural vocabulary of Gothic to a text that sets out to challenge an earlier figuring of 'monstrosity'?

It's also a good read. Here to introduce the text and the session on it is GRG organiser, Carly Stevenson.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Foreshadowings: Hitchcock's Rebecca

The Gothic Reading Group meets this week for its first session of the 2014-15 academic year. This is also the first session under the group's new organisational triumvirate. With that in mind, this preview post does double duty as the new leaders introduce themselves, before taking a quick look at the first text.

Remember - new and old faces are very welcome on Wednesday: do consider coming along if you can make it. We'll be in the Richard Roberts Building, Room A87 from 4pm. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Update: Gothic Reading Group News and 2014 Autumn Semester Schedule

This new academic semester marks the beginning of the Gothic Reading Group's third year. In that time we've gone from being a group of students and faculty with an interest in discussing a range of texts and materials in a friendly and relaxed setting with cake to being. . .

A group of students and faculty with an interest in discussing a range of texts and materials in a friendly and relaxed setting with cake.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Conference Report: Ann Radcliffe at 250

There's exciting news on the way here at the Gothic Reading Group as we ready a new programme of sessions for the 2014-15 academic year. Alongside our meetings, we're also planning a range of other activities that will help bring together Sheffield's community of Gothic scholars. For now, these are to be kept under a black veil (a black veil concealing a rusted iron chest filled with horrendous puns). However, they will include reaching out to other events and activities at the University and what better way to begin than with our own reflections on a rather important Gothic event that took place in Sheffield last month.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Through the Vaults (again): The Gothic Reading Group in 2013-14

As the Gothic Reading Group gets ready to unveil its schedule for the 2014-15 academic year, along with some exciting plans for the future, now seems like a good time to take a glance back at what we read, where we went and what we said in 2013-14. Admittedly we mostly just went to RRB79 and a surprising amount of what we said seemed to involve Sean Bean as Lovelace or conjecture as to what William Godwin might have thought of things. However. . . we did read rather a lot, from utterly obscure Romantic-era poetry to popular twentieth-century comic book superhero stories. Here then, is Mark's second trip into the Gothic Reading Group's vaults. Bring a candle. Mind the giant helmets. Don't get lost...

Monday, 28 April 2014

Foreshadowings: Gormenghast

Our final Gothic Reading Group session in the current 2013-14 schedule takes place this week. After a journey through various Gothic (and not so Gothic) texts and other materials from the eighteenth-century to the present day, we're finishing by tackling something suitably momentous: Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast 'trilogy.' We'll be focussing on the first installment, Titus Groan, in this session, but it's worthwhile knowing something more about the series as a whole and the life and times of its author. Thankfully, Lauren Nixon is more than happy to share her considerable passion for all things Peake and Gormenghast related. Read on...

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Foreshadowings: Batman

This week is another first for the Gothic Reading Group as we turn our attention to not one, but two new media and consider the role played by the long-running Batman franchise in defining a kind of popular Gothic. Batman may seem an odd place for a group of (predominantly) eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literary specialists to end up, but it doesn't take long to see just how seminal this material is to the place and reception of the Gothic in the modern period. What's more, the Batman character and universe provide their own rich multi-media timeline within which we can plot some fascinating trends in popular uses of and attitudes towards the Gothic itself. From psychology to criminology and political theory, there's plenty to explore in Gotham. Here Richard Gough Thomas offers a concise introduction to the history of Batman and offers a few ways into our session. Kapow.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Foreshadowings: Le Fanu's Carmilla

The next meeting of the Gothic Reading Group will tackle some fiction by J.S. Le Fanu, as we head into the nineteenth century and look at some classic 'Victorian Gothic.' Le Fanu has been on the cards for some time, having been one of the first authors suggested by GRG members in the 2012-13 year; it's great to finally take a look at some of his work. Our flagship text for this meeting will be Le Fanu's great vampire novella Carmilla. In the following preview blog Lauren Nixon picks up where the last session left us and takes a look at Carmilla's place in a broader tradition of vampire fiction, pre- and post-dating the Victorian period. 

Monday, 17 February 2014

Recollections - 2013-14 Session Six: Selections from John Stagg's The Minstrel of the North

Last week the Gothic Reading Group met to discuss a selection of pieces by the largely forgotten Romantic poet, John Stagg. Much of the conversation revolved around Stagg's place in relation to an existing scholarly understanding of the 18th and 19th century Gothic. This has lead Mark to produce a longer blog post than usual, framing the group's discussion of Stagg within a broader set of musings on canonicity and the Gothic. Rest assured, no substantive conclusions will be reached. If you (quite understandably) just want to read about Demon Lovers and Vampyres, skip ahead to the sub-heading.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Foreshadowings: John Stagg, A Forgotten Gothic Poet

This week the Gothic Reading Group will boldly go where (to the best of our knowledge) no scholars have gone before as we tackle the forgotten Romantic-era poet, John Stagg. Ahead of the session Mark has been pondering where best to situate Stagg in our existing sense of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Gothic writing and doing some background research on the author's career. The results are quite interesting. . .

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Recollections - 2013-14 Session Five: Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982) and Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)

The Gothic Reading Group met for our first session last week, with a screening of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and an accompanying discussion of its source novella, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? As always, we were keen to break some new ground. This was our first meeting discussing two different media and, perhaps, our first meeting discussing material that wasn't as obviously 'Gothic' as our usual fare. Part of our remit with the Gothic Reading Group is to explore materials at the periphery of the accepted 'Gothic canon' (or beyond!) and our discussion did us proud in using these materials to tackle the relationship between Gothic and Science Fiction. In the following blog post Kathleen reviews some of that discussion and asks how we might use the Gothic as a route into interpreting related materials.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Foreshadowings - Do Goths Dream of Electric Bats?

We've a little over a week to go until our first session of 2014. As usual, we're kicking off with a film: Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, but this time we'll also be reading the film's source material: Philip K. Dick's short novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Both 'texts' are famous within the canons of science fiction cinema and literature (Blade Runner is the 20th best film of all time according to Empire magazine and Androids was one of the first novels re-issued under the SF Masterworks imprint). . . but are they Gothic? Mark isn't sure, but, by way of an introduction to the session, he's going to have a think.