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  • 1. American Gothic
  • 2. Origin of the Genre
    • The Gothic tradition is usually traced back to Horace Walpole's "The Castle of Otranto" (1765).
    • The British writer's book was a hit in England, spawning a whole genre that would become very popular in the presses during the 18th and 19th century.
  • 3. Love of the bizarre
    • The impossibly dark plot of Walpole's book opened the door to other great bizarre works, such as Mary Shelley's masterpiece 'Frankenstein' (1818) and Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897).
  • 4. Inheritance
    • The power of the gothic tradition hasn't really waned in all these years.
    • Anne Rice's 1973 novel 'Interview with the vampire' and particularly its film adaptation (1994) revitalized the genre for newer generations.
  • 5. Inheritance
    • Today, we have Stephanie Meyer's glittery high school vampires, the works of Neil Gaiman (Coraline) and the films of Tim Burton (Sleepy Hollow, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Corpse Bride), all feeding from a strong literary tradition.
    • As life imitates art, we have social groups derived from this art form: the Goths (the kids with eyeliner, not the East Germanic tribe).
  • 6. A rose, by another name...
    • The name gothic actually comes from the architectural style of the middle ages. The Irregular style, lack of symmetry, grotesque gargoyles and angular shapes are characteristics of this type of architecture.
  • 7. Romantic and gothic
    • As you know, Romanticism was a response to the rationalist movement.
    • As the romantics felt free from logic, they were free to explore imagination, including the darkest side of it.
    • In a way, you could say the original romantics explored beautiful dreams, whereas the gothic writers explored nightmares.
  • 8. Insanity, beautiful insanity
    • When romantics saw individualism, they saw hope, vitality, a new way!
    • Gothic writers looked at the individual, and saw the potential for evil, they saw darkness.
  • 9. Beauty and horror
    • While romantics were looking at the beauty of nature, Gothic writers were envisioning the dark and scary forests and all the horrors, natural and supernatural, hidden within.
  • 10. In America
    • By the 19th century, gothic elements had taken over the work of Edgar Allan Poe (The American master of the genre), Nathaniel Hawthorne (yes, THAT guy), Washington Irving (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow) and, in a more subtle way, Hermann Melville (Moby Dick)
  • 11. Why Hawthorne?
    • Hawthorne is different from Poe. Whereas Poe focused on the darkness of the mind, Hawthorne focused on the darkness of the soul and the human heart: vanity, betrayal, mistrust, hatred, etc.