What We Teach

Here, you can find a current list of the Centre’s Gothic modules in the School of English, as well as other external courses delivered by staff.

‘The Literature of the English Country House’, FutureLearn MOOC

The Literature of the English Country House is a free online course written and delivered by the School of English at the University of Sheffield. The course is one in a wide range of ‘MOOCs ’ (Massive Open Online Courses) produced and run each year by the University. Open to all the course uses videos, discussion and a range of interactive activities to offer a six-week investigation of the role and representation of the English country house in literature.

The course traces the history of country house literature, from the sixteenth and seventeenth-century poetry and drama of Thomas More and Margaret Cavendish, through the polite satire and sociability of the eighteenth-century, the Gothic terror and intrigue of Ann Radcliffe and Charles Dickens, all the way through to the dawn of the twentieth century and the wit of Oscar Wilde. As well as reading extracts from the novels, poetry and drama of these well-known authors, the course also interrogates lesser known forms and less familiar authors.

Written and presented by staff and postgraduate students in the School of English, the course also provides an unparalleled insight into some of the research and teaching that takes place in our department, making it an ideal taster from prospective students. You can sign up for this course any time on FutureLearn here.

Murderers and Degenerates: Contextualising the fin de siècle Gothic 

Module convenor: Professor Andrew Smith

Module Description: The module explores three related case histories which help to establish the ways in which the literary Gothic shaped particular fin de siècle anxieties. To that end the module examines accounts of Joseph Merrick (aka The Elephant Man), newspaper reports of the Whitechapel murders of 1888, and the trials of Oscar Wilde. It is by exploring how the Gothic infiltrated medical, criminological, and legal discourses that we can see how a narrative which centred on the pathologisation of masculinity was elaborated at the time. These case histories will be read alongside Jekyll and Hyde (1886), The Great God Pan (1894) and Dracula (1897) as three of the key literary texts which also examine medicine, the law, and crucially the urban and gender contexts which in turn shape the three case histories.

Romantic Gothic

Module Conveners: Professor Angela Wright and Dr Hamish Mathison 

Module Description: Romantic Gothic considers the various manifestations of the Gothic mode, from the middle of the eighteenth century towards the end of the Romantic period in 1830. Looking at how the Gothic became such an enduring and powerful mode of expression in literature, the module will look at Gothic poetry, Gothic novels, Gothic tales as they appeared in magazines, pamphlets and bluebooks of the age, as well as accounts of supernatural occurrences in the popular magazines and newspapers during the eighteenth century. By the end of the module, you will have a good knowledge of the rise of the Gothic during the eighteenth century and Romantic periods, and will have examined some of the most popular Gothic works of the age alongside less canonical works.

American Nightmares: Socio-political Discourses in American Gothic Literature

Module Convener: Dr Maisha Wester

Module Description: Have you ever wondered why there are so many haunted “Indian” burial grounds in Stephen King’s stories or why none of Poe’s heroines ever survive? Have you been struck by how often American socio-political discourse sound like Gothic fictions? The Gothic is a pervasive mode in America, one which expresses and negotiates a variety of social anxieties such as racial identity, patriarchy and the rise of feminism, and class antagonism. This course will examine a variety of Gothic texts from the 1800s onward to consider how they express and negotiate various socio-political anxieties and shifts. We will also contextualize the narratives by reviewing the relevant socio-political ideologies and debates contemporary to the texts. In doing so, the course will clarify the numerous chasms between the American ideal and the brutal American reality.