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gothic architecture - gothic art - gothic horror - gothic novel - gothic rock - Goths

Connoisseurs: Richard Davenport-Hines

Still from
The Company of Wolves (1984) - Neil Jordan [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Gargoyle decorating the Cathedral de Notre Dame (1163- 1345) in Paris, France.


The word Gothic means different things depending on the context: --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gothic [Jun 2005]

Goth subculture

Goth is a modern subculture that first became popular during the early 1980s within the gothic rock scene, a sub-genre of post punk. It is associated with characteristically "gothic" tastes in music and clothing. Styles of dress range from death rock, punk, Victorian, androgyny, some Renaissance style clothes, a combination of the above, and/or lots of black attire, and makeup. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goth [Jan 2006]

Word history

The combination Gothic romance represents a union of two of the major influences in the development of European culture, the Roman Empire and the Germanic tribes that invaded it. The Roman origins of romance must be sought in the etymology of that word, but we can see clearly that Gothic is related to the name Goth used for one of those invading Germanic tribes. The word Gothic, first recorded in 1611 in a reference to the language of the Goths, was extended in sense in several ways, meaning “Germanic,” “medieval, not classical,” “barbarous,” and also an architectural style that was not Greek or Roman. Horace Walpole applied the word Gothic to his novel The Castle of Otranto, a Gothic Story (1765) in the sense “medieval, not classical.” From this novel filled with scenes of terror and gloom in a medieval setting descended a literary genre still popular today; from its subtitle descended the name for it. --American Heritage Dictionary

Gothic culture

From posthumanist religious cults to psychotic serial killers to Gothic night clubs, contemporary Western culture is haunted by Gothic iconographies and mythologies.  They inform and are informed by popular psychology, science, ethics, academic theory, and a culture of violence that often seems to live out our myths.  With this context in mind, students will study Gothic culture from an interdisciplinary perspective, beginning with a historical overview from the post-Enlightenment to present-day incarnations in mass media culture, noting how Gothic has infused art, architecture, literature, film, and various social institutions.  Reading from Edmundson's Nightmare on Main Street: Angels, Aliens, Sadomasochism, and the Culture of the Gothic, Gelder's The Horror Reader, Davenport-Hines, Gothic, and Becker's The Denial of Death, we will take up Gothic intersections with several schools of thought - formalist, psychoanalytic, mythological, anthropological, philosophical, and feminist.

One area of emphasis will be the role of the Gothic in the development of cinema and the issues surrounding it, and we will screen up to five films and a number of film clips.  Another area of emphasis will be literature.  The course will be restricted by a broad core theme or archetype determined by a canonical Gothic text such as Shelley's Frankenstein, Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper", Bronte's Jane Eyre, or James' The Turn of the Screw.  Specific topics, media, and readings will branch out from that text.  For example, as a core text, Jekyll and Hyde would initiate course topics such as the degeneration theory, hysteria and the development of psychoanalysis, philosophical conceptions of evil, drug culture, male versus female Gothic, and detective story, the history and mythology of Jack the Ripper, and texts such as Moore and Campbell's graphic novel From Hell and the 2001 Hughes brothers film, the discourses of forensic science from the nineteenth-century to CSI, a Thomas Harris novel, and the "psychopathic" serial killer subgenre.  --Dr. Linda Badley http://honors.web.mtsu.edu/gothic_culture.htm [Jun 2005]

Addams Family

Bringing gothic into the mainstream

Addams Family tv-series: Matte painting with title credits
image sourced here. [Jun 2005]

Morticia and Gomez from the Addams Family tv-series

The Addams Family is the creation of American cartoonist Charles Addams. They are a bizarre family who delight in all things macabre and are never really aware of why people find them frightening.

Addams's cartoons in The New Yorker magazine gained popularity in the 1930s. Addams was noted for his morbid sense of humor, and over the years various bizarre people and creatures who lived in a huge decaying Victorian Gothic house became recurring characters. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Addams_Family [jun 2005]

In the 1960s a network television series was spawned with actors playing characters from Addams cartoons, entitled The Addams Family. The television show originally ran from 1964 to 1966 on the ABC Network, and has been widely syndicated. The Munsters, which shared a similar gothic look but featured broader humor, was contemporary with The Addams Family. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Addams_Family#Television_and_film [jun 2005]

I loved the show as a kid, and still find it funny today! I do love how the movies have taken the very hush-hush innuendo of the show and brought the full S&M implications of Gomez and Morticia's sex life into full view! "To pleasure! To pain!" "Tonight...." --http://www.jumptheshark.com/a/addamsfamily.htm [Jun 2005]

Charles Addams
Charles Samuel Addams (January 7, 1912 - September 28, 1988) was an American cartoonist known for his particularly black humor and macabre characters. His cartoons regularly appeared in The New Yorker from 1938 until his death. Some of the recurring characters became the basis for a television series, The Addams Family, and later a motion picture of the same name. It is said that the exterior of the Addams Family Mansion was based on the rear facade of College Hall at the University of Pennsylvania, which he attended in the 1930s. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Addams [Jun 2005]

see also: gothic - black humour

Nightmare on Main Street: Angels, Sadomasochism, and the Culture of Gothic (1997) Mark Edmundson

Nightmare on Main Street: Angels, Sadomasochism, and the Culture of Gothic (1997) Mark Edmundson [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

If you observe American pop culture, you'll recognize the questions Mark Edmundson raises in Nightmare on Main Street: Why are the 1990s seeing a resurgence of the gothic? Why do tabloid stories about people such as O. J. Simpson and Lorena Bobbitt captivate the public imagination? Why are "goth" fashions and music in vogue? Why is sadomasochistic sexuality on the rise? And what about the craze for what Edmundson calls "pop transcendence," the phony innocence exemplified by Forrest Gump, angels, and the inner child? Nightmare on Main Street is well written and accessible, and will be of interest to anyone appreciative of (or concerned about) horror books and movies. As Richard Rorty writes, "[This] book argues that America now has a bloated Id, a lascivious and cruel Superego, and almost no Ego at all: almost no moral resolution or political will." Edmundson's proposed solution is kind of vague, but he acknowledges the positive, creative role of horror: he proposes that we "take Gothic pessimism as a starting point and come up with visions that, while affirmative, never forget the authentic darkness that Gothic art discloses." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal
Edmundson (English, Univ. of Virginia), who writes prolifically for both the "lit-crit" elite and the mass intelligentsia, here addresses neither literary historians nor "practitioners of...cultural studies." Yet because his work, however fun horror literature and movies are, after all, created as entertainment is still an academic product, he may fail to reach his intended audience. Any book that expects its readers to be breezily familiar with Prometheus, Foucault, Poe, and Freddy Krueger assumes a certain hipness rarely found beyond campus environs. The point of this disquisition is also obscure. While Edmundson backs up his basic observation that today's popular attraction to slasher flicks, tabloids, and O.J. Simpson true-life horror tales is similar to the Gothic phenomenon of the early 19th century, he never explains why he thinks the culture of Gothic flourished, then and now, and why it matters. Not recommended. Scott H. Silverman, Bryn Mawr Coll. Lib., Pa., Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

see also: sadomasochism - mainstream - gothic

Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin (1999) - Richard Davenport

The best place to start to explore the gothic sensibility [Jan 2006]

Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin (1999) - Richard Davenport[Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

SIPs: rococo gothic, gothic film, gothic imagination, gothic aesthetics, gothic imagery (more on SIPs)

From Publishers Weekly
Though separated by time, place and vocation, Neapolitan landscape painter Salvator Rosa, English novelist Mary Shelley and American filmmaker David Lynch all belong to the same exclusive club. So argues Davenport-Hines (Auden), often persuasively, in his sweeping examination of modern Western culture's fascination with the dark side. Davenport-Hines holds that a coherent antirationalist tradition can be traced through the work of figures as diverse as Francisco Goya, the Duke of Argyll, Lord Byron, Theodor Adorno and 1980s rock singer Robert Smith of the Cure.

He deftly situates the gothic broadly defined here as a nonconformist sensibility marked by a morbid fascination with death, decay and the uncanny.

In a history that includes the barbarian invasions of Rome and the nature-defying hubris of medieval European architecture. Of course celebrated gothic novelists such as Ann Radcliffe, Matthew "Monk" Lewis and Horace Walpole receive treatment, but more interesting is the author's identification of gothic elements in the work of artists seldom placed in the gloom-and-doom tradition, such as Alexander Pope's carefully planned, and to the 20th-century eye almost kitschy, gardens.

The book's efforts to make spiritual confreres of figures as apparently unrelated as Pope and Ian Curtis, the suicidal frontman of gloomy rock group Joy Division, accounts for much of its appeal. And, indeed, the clear delight Davenport-Hines takes in making bedfellows of poets and pop stars, philosophers and splatterpunks, indicates his own penchant for the bizarre and subversive. Although his definition of the gothic becomes at times too elastic, this richly illustrated survey is no less enjoyable and informative for its author's ambition. (June)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal
The enduring interest in Gothic and macabre images and stories has drawn the attention of contemporary scholars and critics. Departing from recent volumes that analyze the Gothic in contemporary culture and arts, British critic Davenport-Hines (Auden, Pantheon, 1996) has produced a comprehensive survey of Gothic themes in art, architecture, literature, and film since the early 17th century.

Arranged in a sometimes disjointed combination of historic and thematic exposition, the book traces the Gothic imagination: its roots, the 18th-century "Gothic revival," the 19th-century classics (such as Frankenstein and Dracula) that epitomize the genre, the American Gothic, and manifestations of the Gothic in popular culture and film. The level of detail is sometimes excessive, and some chapters seem to lose their focus, but overall, this work provides an informed and readable survey of the genre. Unfortunately, the notes are difficult to use, and the in-text citations are not always clear or explicit. For larger public libraries.AJulia Burch, Cambridge, MA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. --via Amazon.com

see also: gothic - excess - horror - evil

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