“The colonies” held an ambivalent fascination for imperial England: on the one hand, they promised a space of exotic adventure where young Englishmen could prove their mettle. But the romance of colonial adventure could just as easily turn into gothic horror: colonial space was also a source of anxiety, a place where death, madness, and unspeakable terror awaited the English adventurer. Often the gothic threat is overcome by the superiority of English courage, reason, and loyalty to the crown – yet there is also the creeping dread that the unspeakable horrors of the colony could overcome Western rationality and corrupt the imperial hero – and maybe even take over the imperial capital itself. And while the British Empire is gone, colonial gothic horror continues to attract audiences even today – as contemporary neo-Victorian TV shows like Frontier, The Terror, and Taboo demonstrate.
In the seminar, we will look at champions of the British Empire, such as H. Rider Haggard and Rudyard Kipling, as well as at critics like Joseph Conrad and how they used the colonial gothic, and we will also investigate its role in white settler writing in Australia and Canada. A few examples of contemporary postcolonial and neo-Victorian appropriations of the colonial gothic will round out our discussion.
Seminar discussions will be held exclusively via BigBlueBotton.
Please buy and read:
- H. Rider Haggard: She (preferred edition: Penguin Classics, ISBN 978-0140437638)
- Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness (preferred editions: WW Norton, ISBN 978-0393264869 or Oxford University Press ISBN 978-0199536016)
Other material will be available on StudIP.