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Understanding the Gothic, 410 – 2016
Part I: Bone Deep Gothic

Gothic Funk Press is happy to offer an informal course that will explore the rise of the Gothic outlook and aesthetic from its complex distant roots, guided by Gothic: 400 Years of Horror, Excess, Evil and Ruin, Richard Davenport-Hines’ impassioned and eccentric exploration of the genre. In this first set of articles – hosted at http://www.gothicfunkpress.com/blog/ – we’ll start with Alaric I’s sack of Rome in 410 AD and proceed through the publication of the first Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto, in 1764. Along the way we’ll meet the egotistical genius Salvator Rosa and British Renaissance man Alexander Pope. We’ll revisit the rapturous arguments of the Greek philosopher “Longinus” and Enlightenment-era thinkers Edmund Burke and Immanuel Kant, and we’ll take a close look at the follies, ruins, turrets, and castles that ushered in the Age of the Gothic long before its macabre pen was put to paper. This introduction will set the stage for a follow up course to focus on the height of romantic and Victorian gothicism, and third and fourth courses focusing on the Gothic in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Any questions, please contact connor@connorcoyne.com.

NOTE on the READING LIST: Many of these titles are out-of-print and expensive. They can be easily found and purchased at most used-book websites and many dealers, but it may be more affordable and convenient to check at your local library. However, we do hope that you will not be discouraged from participating because you are unable to obtain books, or even if you don’t have time to do all the readings. We’ll be posting a short summary of each text before discussion, and hope that you’ll follow along even if you can’t complete all of the readings.

NOTE on COLLABORATORS: This informal project will be led by Connor Coyne, founder of the Gothic Funk Press and author of Hungry Rats and Shattering Glass.  This project is also inspired by the brilliant artists and all-around geniuses at The Porkchop Express, who are offering their own online “MFA.”

NOTE on the SCHEDULE: This project was originally begun in 2014, but quickly became derailed by the birth of y second daughter and other responsibilities.  Today, in fall 2016, I am trying to revive the project and am optimistic of its greater success this time around!

 

READING LIST

Megan Aldrich: Gothic Revival
Morris Brownell: Alexander Pope and the Arts of Georgian England (selections)
Edmund Burke: A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful
Anna Chalcraft: Strawberry Hill: Horace Walpole’s Gothic Castle
Richard Davenport-Hines: Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin
Immanuel Kant: Critique of the Power of Judgment
Immanuel Kant: Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime
Helen Langdon: Salvator Rosa
Longinus: On Great Writing (On the Sublime)
Horace Walpole: The Castle of Otranto

 

SCHEDULE

I. Ancient and Medieval Roots of the Gothic and the Legacy of Salvator Rosa
Richard Davenport Hines, Chapter 1
Helen Langdon
DISCUSSION #1: IN MEDIA RES
DISCUSSION #2: HALLOWED HALLS
DISCUSSION #3: SALVATOR ROSA, 1615-1640
DISCUSSION #4: SALVATOR ROSA, 1640-1649
DISCUSSION #5: SALVATOR ROSA, 1649-1660
DISCUSSION #6: SALVATOR ROSA, 1660-1673
DISCUSSION #7: SALVATOR ROSA’S BRITISH ADVENTURE
ASIDE: DISCUSSION #8: GOTHS BEFORE THE CURE, BY JOHN PENDELL

II. Picturesque Landscape Gardening: A Detour
Richard Davenport Hines, Chapter 2
Morris Brownell (selections)
DISCUSSION #9: MR. POPE GOES TO TWICKENHAM
DISCUSSION #10: OF NATURAL LANDSCAPES, SHAM RUINS, AND DEAD TREES

III. The Sublime
Richard Davenport Hines, Chapter 3
Longinus
Edmund Burke
Immanuel Kant

IV. The Reemergence of Gothic Architecture
Richard Davenport Hines, Chapters 4 and 5
Megan Aldritch
Anna Chalcraft

V. The Curtain Rises on a Gothic Castle
Horace Walpole

Comments

  1. Pingback: Get Gothic with Gothic Funk Press | Connor Coyne

  2. Pingback: UNDERSTANDING THE GOTHIC #1: IN MEDIA RES - Gothic Funk Press

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  5. scott russell

    So, from the first chapter, we get the perverse fascination of Rosa as an initial foray into the gothic. (I am also intrigued with the way the actual goths (those poor refugees) endure the Roman projection of destruction and savagery. That is somehow perfect.)

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    ccoyne

    Yes, the historic Goths have gotten a bad rap and/or are misunderstood by both today’s moody goths and the Enlightenment philosophers. And Davenport-Hines, who buys into the Renaissance interpretation of the “dark ages.”

    I’ve used Davenport-Hines to draft the syllabus here. He (cleverly, I think) uses Neapolitan fear of Vesuvius as his first linkage between the British and Rosa. But he can be tricky; his overview is very broad and ambitious, and I really admire the passion he has for the subject. He also slights more subtle gothic effects (eg. terror and suspense) in favor of more conspicuous transgressions. It will be interesting negotiating some of his historical assumptions, starting with the reality of the early Middle ages vs. the Renaissance interpretation of them.

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  8. scott russell

    So, on to Davenport-Hines: what’s with his focus? Vesuvius and Rosa’s story seem a bit of a leap to what we usually think of as “Gothic.” (I have read Pliny’s account of how his dad tried to save people from the eruption.) I am curious about how we can negotiate the historical assumptions. What we know as the Gothic genre or aesthetic comes into being roughly about the time Mark Cousins argues the cliche comes into being. If this association is useful (may not be) then the Gothic as we know it could not exist in the Renaissance; that is one possibility I would pose.

    I wonder if it isn’t a bit like trying to include Kafka in the gothic aesthetic. There are problems with Kafka’s alienated point of view. One could compare first person accounts of say Poe and Kafka, both alienated but in very different ways.

  9. scott russell

    So, I would like to summarize a bit of Mark Cousins’ notion (http://www.aaschool.ac.uk/VIDEO/lecture.php?ID=1630) of the cliche arising in the 1800s as a result of the break down of traditional discursive organization,
    Cousins argues that in the Renaissance for example, discourse was agonistic, one was doing something when one spoke. By the 19th century, one was expected to speak for ceremonial reasons that had nothing to do with anything beyond establishing or maintaining one’s position; what one said was of less consequence than the fact one spoke. I am suggesting that there is some of this proforma discourse in the early gothic work of both Walpole and Matthew Lewis.There is the sense that though we are confronted with the horrific, we are not in any serious danger. Already, the narrative serves another purpose, to conflate the emotions of the reader within the safety of a genre.

  10. Pingback: UNDERSTANDING THE GOTHIC #2: HALLOWED HALLS - Gothic Funk Press

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    ccoyne

    I’m not 100% certain about all of Davenport-Hines’ leaps; he sometimes seems so excited by his ideas that he does not develop causaility thoroughly. However, I do think he’s on solid ground with Vesuvius and Rosa. Italian settings featured heavily in the first waves of Gothic writing, and Ann “the Great Enchantress” Radcliffe herself used Vesuvius to great effect in The Italian.

    The deepest strains, however, is what we get from Rosa and Vesuvius as informing developing notions of the sublime. The sublime, refitted for 18th century England is stamped all over the early Gothic, from Beckford’s vision of Hell to Radcliffe’s descriptions of the Pyrenees and the Alps (which she never visited, herself).

    I think the Mark Cousins observation (as you’ve summarized it; I still have to watch the video) is on point, although a bit ahead of where we are right now. DH will present Walpole’s novel as an example of dry, self-aware camp, with more serious political undertones. This imitative awareness — including the cliches — was present in the architecture we’ll be looking at. When we talk about Alexander Pope, we’ll see that the “false ruins” were already coming into vogue in England in the early 1700s, complete with crumbling mortar and bats in the belfry.

    But I don’t think DH is arguing that there was a notion of the Gothic during Rosa’s era; to the extent that there was it was regarded with disdain, as the remnants of a barbaric era. However, because of his subject matter, atmospheric approach, and personal mythology, Rosa was easily incorporated into the early Gothic mystique.

    Sorry for rambling on for so long here! Much is foreshadowed… 🙂

  12. Pingback: UNDERSTANDING THE GOTHIC #3: SALVATOR ROSA, 1615-1640 - Gothic Funk Press

    1. scott russell

      I was wondering why Rosa? Agreed that DH is going for some aesthetic foundational idea that wasn’t itself Gothic. I’m moving into Longinus. The term here got pretty busy and I am sort of off syllabus. (Plus I got these gigs coming up two weekends in a row, comp theory and then poetry, fun but a lot of work getting ready.) Am largely through DH at the moment.

  13. Pingback: UNDERSTANDING THE GOTHIC #4: SALVATOR ROSA, 1640-1649 - Gothic Funk Press

  14. Pingback: UNDERSTANDING THE GOTHIC #5: SALVATOR ROSA, 1649-1660 - Gothic Funk Press

  15. Pingback: UNDERSTANDING THE GOTHIC #6: SALVATOR ROSA, 1660-1673 - Gothic Funk Press

  16. Pingback: UNDERSTANDING THE GOTHIC #7: SALVATOR ROSA’S BRITISH ADVENTURE - Gothic Funk Press

  17. Pingback: UNDERSTANDING THE GOTHIC #8: GOTHS BEFORE THE CURE, BY JOHN PENDELL - Gothic Funk Press

  18. Pingback: UNDERSTANDING THE GOTHIC #9: MR. POPE GOES TO TWICKENHAM - Gothic Funk Press

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