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  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Online Unscheduled


ENGL200 Nineteenth-Century Literature: Revolutions in Writing OR ENGL202 Twentieth-Century Literature OR ENGL204 American Writing OR ENGL205 Australian Literature for Children and Young Adults OR ENGL210 Shakespeare and the Renaissance OR ENGL221 Cultural Studies OR ENGL224 Romantic Generations OR ENGL231 Australian Literature OR ENGL232 Irish Literature OR ENGL234 The Literature of Other Worlds: Fantasy and Science Fiction OR ENGL235 Writing with Style

Unit rationale, description and aim

Gothic literature is one of the most important and energetic cultural influences that has ever existed. Its origins date to the 1760s with the rise of novels designed to produce both terror and horror in the reader. It is the mode of two of the most popular novels of the Nineteenth century: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula which employ experimental techniques in narration while wrestling with the technological developments brought on by modernity and the Industrial Revolution. Gothic literature becomes a site through which technological and social changes are investigated while exploring psychological extremes and questions of the unconscious.

As a developing mode, the Gothic became increasingly protean – that is, Gothic tropes came to be found in poetry, factual prose, nationalist and racist discourse, writing concerning medicine and the body, discussions about psychology, identity, gender and sexuality and postcolonial texts. Gothic invites interdisciplinary approaches, as works such as Frankenstein and Dracula were swiftly transported first to the stage and then to the screen, creating entire sub-genres of android and vampire fictions.

Gothic literature was dismissed as trivial and offensive by early critics such as Coleridge and was ignored by generations of literary critics who sneered at its sensationalism and popularity. In the last thirty years, however, its rich, strange contours have intrigued literary critics who have appreciated how such a mutating and geographically widely dispersed mode can be employed to investigate our darkest fears and unspeakable anxieties.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Demonstrate knowledge of the relevant literature generated through close readingGC1, GC9, GC11
LO2Communicate clearly in written and/or oral form, in a style appropriate to a specified audienceGC1, GC2, GC11, GC12
LO3Locate, evaluate and appropriately analyse a variety of texts relevant to Gothic Fiction in order to develop a well-research argumentGC2, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11
LO4Apply the methods that literary theorists have used to research and engage with a range of forms of Gothic FictionGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11
LO5Reflect on key debates relating to the presence of Gothic modes and tropes in different periods and locationsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC9


Topics will include:

  • The Gothic novel 1764-1815
  • The cultural reception of early Gothic writing
  • Frankenstein as a Gothic text
  • Victorian Gothic
  • Dracula and the figure of the vampire
  • Medical writing and Gothic tropes
  • Staging the Gothic
  • Contemporary Gothic fiction
  • Gothic cinema
  • Critical interest in the Gothic from the 1990s onwards

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit will run in semi-asynchronous mode with recorded lectures, detailed weekly tutorial exercises and 4 x 3hr online workshops during the semester.

The aim will be for students to:

1. Gain a sense that ‘the Gothic’ is loosely defined series of tropes and concerns which are subject to evolution over time and geographical locations. Gothic modes can be deployed in a wide range of texts, including stage and screen presentations. Students will gain an ability to move across disciplinary borders in following the protean nature of the Gothic.

2. Hone their skills in the close reading of specific texts in order to generate deeper levels of analysis. This will involve exercises in close reading of texts to apprehend meanings that are not apparent at a superficial level. This will be assisted by frequent reference to critical texts. This will require skills in research.

3. Be able to synthesise both the content knowledge and close reading skills to link a developing interpretation to a historical and cultural context. This ability to relate meaning to context will be developed through class and formal exercises where students will discuss case studies in the relationship of textual meaning to its historical and cultural context.

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy.

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessment task one will be timed no later than mid-semester and will be a low risk, relatively lightly weight assessment written task to assess the understanding of foundational concepts about tools and concerns of the Gothic mode and the influences that lead to the explosion of popularity in the Eighteenth century.

The second task requires students to demonstrate their ability to take up a particular issue and offer an interpretation of a literary text. This task will require students to place the work within a cultural and historical context in order to show how significant Gothic texts explore issues, such as gender, industrialism, education, class or other matters.

The final task is summative and requires students to demonstrate an understanding of how the Gothic participates in a range of forms throughout different periods and locations.

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1: The Gothic – Foundation concepts and texts

This is a written task that allows students to demonstrate their understanding of the Gothic mode.


LO1, LO3

Assessment Task 2: Major Research Assignment

This is a research task that asks students to contextualise a literary text within a particular cultural and historical context.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Assessment Task 3: Summative Assessment

The aim of this task is to allow students to demonstrate how the Gothic functions within a range of literary forms from different periods and locations.


LO4, LO5

Representative texts and references

Bloom, Clive. The Palgrave Handbook of Gothic Origins. Edited by Clive Bloom, Palgrave Macmillan, 2021.

Brown, Sherri L., et al. A Research Guide to Gothic Literature in English. Rowman & Littlefield, 2018.

Conrich, Ian and Laura. Sedgwick. Gothic Dissections in Film and Literature The Body in Parts. Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

Corstorphine, Kevin., and Laura R. Kremmel. The Palgrave Handbook to Horror Literature. Springer International Publishing, 2018.

DiPlacidi, Jenny. Gothic Incest Gender, Sexuality and Transgression. Manchester University Press, 2019.

Monnet, Agnieszka Soltysik. The Poetics and Politics of the American Gothic : Gender and Slavery in Nineteenth-Century American Literature. Routledge, 2016.

Smith, Andrew. Gothic Death 1740-1914 : a Literary History. Manchester University Press, 2016.

Spooner, Catherine. Post-Millennial Gothic : Comedy, Romance and the Rise of Happy Gothic. Bloomsbury Academic, 2017.

Wright, Angela et al. The Cambridge History of the Gothic. Cambridge University Press, 2020.

Youngs, Tim. Beastly Journeys : Travel and Transformation at the Fin de Siécle. Liverpool University Press, 2013.

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