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.

And long may it continue.

We've covered a lot of ground in the last two years, of course, from obscure eighteenth-century drama to modern films and graphic novels. The schedule for this term maintains that breadth, with a range of sessions on materials stretching from sixteenth-century drama to Marvel Comics (ok, so we like drama and comics). Whether you're a returning member, or a student just starting at Sheffield; whether you're a budding doctoral researcher nursing a field-defining thesis about the existential crisis underpinning the creative praxis of nineteenth-century bat-poetry or an undergraduate engineering student with a penchant for vintage horror serials, we'd love to meet you. And eat cake with you.

You can see our full schedule of sessions for the Autumn Semester below. Please note that our first session (on the 15th of October) focuses on a film and is expressly designed to welcome new members without foisting large amounts of reading on them. Do come.

First though, a small announcement, for which I'll briefly set aside the collective pronoun and speak in my own persona.

Over the last two years, I've been the principle organiser for the Gothic Reading Group. This has meant sorting out the obvious administrative tasks that running a schedule of meetings entails (someone's got to fetch the cake, after all) as well as doing my best to keep members and prospective members informed about what we were up to (either by posting mock flyers about Elder God language lessons outside the modern languages department, or by sending lots of incredibly exciting emails to you all).

Leading the group has also meant making (or at least framing) some decisions about the shape the GRG was to take and what we might achieve with it. Some of those have worked better than others. Veterans may remember the attempts at pooling text suggestions through google docs and uSpace groups back in 2012 - an attempt to simplify the decision-making process that. . . didn't work. It turns out that simply usurping power and making arbitrary decisions from behind the scenes was a simpler way to run a Gothic Reading Group. Who'd have thought it?

Other developments have been more successful. This website in particular has become one of my favourite things about the GRG. Whilst it's taken a fair bit of tinkering to get right (and the occasional desperate plea for session-reviewers) I think that the record it provides is incredibly valuable. It's my hope that the GRG continues to be an important feature of the scholarly community at Sheffield, bringing together staff and students at all levels to make the most of our collective interest and expertise in Gothic Studies. And I hope this blog continues to provide an archive for that, with posts such as this one gradually disappearing beneath their successors, only to reappear when some GRG'er of the future goes digging in the vaults. What could be more Gothic?

But (as you've surely guessed) this is the moment at which I hand over the flickering candle to other hands, confident that its light will illuminate many more reading experiences, be they crumbling manuscripts, laundry lists, ancient tomes or catalogues of tortuously over-extended metaphors. Going forward, the GRG will now be lead by a triumvirate of organisers, all of whom have been active members in the past and have exciting plans for expanding the group's activities in the future.

I'll still be around in the somewhat disembodied capacity of webmaster general (someone has to fiddle with the blog format and write the joke bits at the end of posts) but your new overlords will be Kathleen Hudson, Lauren Nixon and Carly Stevenson. They're great. You'll like them.

All that remains for me to do is to thank everyone who's been part of the group over its first few years - from staff who helped get us started, to stalwart members to the many people I've begged blog-posts of and who've always come through with excellent stuff.

Now, it's over to Kathleen, Lauren and Carly. They've sorted an excellent schedule for you:

  • October 15th (4-6pm, RRB A87) – Alfred Hitchcock - Rebecca (1940) [Film]
  • Octoer 29th –  Jean Rhys - Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) [Novel]
  • November 12th – Brahm Revel & Cris Peter -Marvel Knights: X-Men Haunted (2013) [Graphic Novel]
  • November 26th –A session on 'Nineteenth-Century New England Gothic' including Washington Irving's 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' (1820) and Nathaniel Hawthorne's 'Young Goodman Brown' (1835) [Short Stories]
  • December 10th – James Watkins - The Woman in Black (2012) [Film]

The first session on Rebecca will take place in The Richard Roberts Building, room A87. Details for other sessions will be available soon. See you there!


Mark Bennett is a PhD research student in the School of English, working on Gothic and Travel Writing. He was lead organiser for the Gothic Reading Group between 2012 and 2014. His proudest moment was picking Haribo Star Mix to accompany a session on Lovecraft's 'The Call of Cthulhu'.


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