Dale Townshend is Professor of Gothic Literature in the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University.
He has published widely on Gothic writing of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, including, most recently, Gothic Antiquity: History, Romance, and the Architectural Imagination, 1760–1840 (Oxford University Press, 2019) and the three-volume The Cambridge History of the Gothic (co-edited with Angela Wright and Catherine Spooner, 2020–21, Cambridge University Press).
'Revenants and Remains': Gothic Architecture and Gothic Literature in the Long Eighteenth Century
9.30am - 10.30am
What is the link between Gothic architecture and Gothic literature? Why is it that so many early Gothic romances, poems and dramas are set in, or written about, the ruins of medieval castles and abbeys that had populated the British landscape at least since the time of Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries?
This talk provides an overview of the connection between Gothic (or medieval) architecture and Gothic literature, the writing of horror and terror that arose with, and in the wake of, the publication of Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto in late 1764. Beginning with an account of Walpole, his formative ‘Gothic Story’ and his extraordinary Gothic architectural experiments at Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, from 1748 onwards, the lecture proceeds to excavate and describe the ‘architectural imagination’ that fuelled the writing of supernatural fiction, poetry and drama in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
As interested in the imaginary castles, abbeys and monasteries figured in early Gothic writing as in the real-life architectural ruins that feature throughout the Gothic literary tradition, it surveys selected works by such well-known Romantic-era authors such as Ann Radcliffe, William Wordsworth, Jane Austen and Lord Byron alongside that of a host of now-forgotten writers.