Gothic Research

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This page is intended to help people get started doing academic research on Gothic/supernaturalist topics. Please keep in mind that The Literary Gothic is not a "peer-reviewed" site.

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If you're new to Gothic studies and need to find out about "the Gothic" or Gothic novels, check out some of the sites listed in the General Resources section of this website; I don't provide a bibliography of Gothic novels, but not to worry, for other folks have already done this: a good bibliography this link opens a new window of early Gothic novels is available at Franz Potter's "Gothic Literature" site. Check out also the primary bibliography of novels, films, and paintings (1745-1996) by Russell A. Potter, an English professor at Rhode Island College. (He also has a secondary bibliography—that is, a listing of scholarly works discussing the Gothic materials mentioned in his primary bibliography, though this secondary bibliography lists a lot of works not dealing specifically with the Gothic.) Another very useful site is Douglass H. Thomson's Glossary of Literary Gothic Terms, a glossary so helpful it's essentially a mini-intro to the Gothic itself.

An excellent introductory overview to the Gothic and some of its chief early practitioners can be found at the "Literary Gothicism" page of the website of W. W. Norton, the academic publishing house. Another good intro, this one by Kathy Prendergast and featuring special emphasis on the origin of the term "Gothic," can be found here at the U of Saskatchewan English Dept's Frankenstein hypertext project. An effective definition of "Gothic" and an overview of Gothic literature can be found at Lilia Melani's The Gothic Experience course website [CUNY - Brooklyn College]. For a sound (if somewhat over-simplified) basic intro to what makes "Gothic" literature "Gothic," see Elements of the Gothic Novel by Robert Harris. There's also a thumbnail overview/description of the Gothic at MSN (but don't even think about citing this in a paper you write for one of my classes; it's a good overview but general encyclopedias are not appropriate research sources for college-level work). A similarly brief and basic introduction to the genre may be found here, in the online Columbia Encyclopedia.

For hard-copy resources (and there's no way to do a serious job of research without consulting some hardcopy resources, since lots of scholarship is not available online), I particularly recommend, as a good overview of the Gothic tradition, including discussion of Gothic characteristics (a fluid and much-disputed subject, BTW), David Punter's The Literature of Terror; he's also edited a very useful collection of essays on the Gothic, A Companion to the Gothic click for more info. A recent, and quite excellent if somewhat theoretical, work on the same subject is Fred Botting's The Gothic; other very useful titles include Markman Ellis' The History of Gothic Fiction (click cover image at right for more info) or the collection The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction edited by noted Gothic scholar Jerrold Hogle (click the image a few paragraphs down on the left). You'll probably need access to a decent college/university library to find these.

But before you get offline, here are some suggestions for finding the research materials that can help you with your Gothic project.

Keep in mind that traditional "Gothic" literature (1764-1820, or later) is written during the Romantic period, so many general discussions or overviews of Romantic literature (English, American, Continental) or Romantic-era culture will deal with some aspects of these works. (A great place to start is with the Romanticism page this link opens a new window of The Voice of the Shuttle.)

But whether you're looking for "Gothic" or "Romantic" scholarship, there's one source that you need to know of: the MLA Bibliography, which lists all of the research published on all literary topics, including individual writers and historical periods and genres, every year.
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Where do you find it? (Pardon the basic nature of this paragraph, but I get lots of email from students not yet familiar with literary criticism and its resources; if you're already acquainted with the MLA Bibliography, skip this part.) I don't know if high school libraries are likely to carry such a thing, but it is available in almost all university/college libraries, many of which make it available online (but only to students & faculty, as it is a proprietary database). You may also find it in larger public libraries; if not, head to the nearest university/college. If you can get access to the online or CD-ROM version (some universities allow public access to these databases if you are physically in the library; check w/ the library staff), all the better, for the electronic format dramatically simplifies searching; in the hard-copy version (better than nothing, to be sure), you have to look through a separate volume for each year.

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But the MLA Bibliography is general, covering all literary types and nationalities. Students of the Gothic are in luck, for there's a more "tailored" bibliographic resource available: Guide to the Gothic (1984), Guide to the Gothic II (1995), and Guide to the Gothic III (2004), all by the late Professor Frederick S. Frank. These are annotated bibliographies that provide exhaustive coverage of Gothic scholarship. In the general sections you'll find general Gothic studies; in the author and theme sections you'll find studies of particular authors, organized by nationality, and themes important in Gothic literature. (The third volume, by the way, includes entries from the first two guides plus 1600 new entries covering Gothic scholarship published from 1996 through 2003.) These volumes should point you to more than enough references, but note that they are likely to be found only in larger public libraries and in some college/university libraries, many of which make their catalogs freely available online. For more info, and for non-annotated entries (including those too recent to be included in Guide to the Gothic III), check out the website created by Professor Frank, "The Sickly Taper", which will remain available online despite Prof. Frank's passing.

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Let's get site-specific....

LitGothic is now hosting some StudyGuides and annotated electronic editions of some Gothic-tradition texts; while the offerings are sparse now, they should continue to grow, albeit slowly. If you want to see if there's such a resource for the particular tale you're interested in, check out the StudyHelp Index page.

If you're going to refer to or quote from a page at this website in your paper, check out the Citing this Site page. And again, The Literary Gothic is not a peer-reviewed site.

Finally, if you want to email me with a question, feel free, but please be intelligent about this. Don't ask me questions that can be answered by some basic research on your part, or that ask for a huge amount of information ("tell me everything about the Gothic") — unfortunately, I don't get paid to sit at my computer and answer email, and although as a literature professor I genuinely enjoy helping people learn, I simply don't have time to provide lengthy responses to questions that wouldn't need to be asked if you were doing the legwork (or brainwork) on your own. If a question looks like an attempt to avoid research, I'll just delete it; if a question asks for a huge overview of the genre or a particular topos or an author, into the e-trash it goes. If a question is intelligent and thoughtful and shows some prior research and thought, I'll do my best to provide a helpful response. If I have time. Which unfortunately is not often the case....

Best of luck with your project.

The Literary Gothic