Steampunk vs. Gothic Literature

Earlier this year, at a convention called Dark Side of the Con, I wound up inadvertently leading a panel on the overlap of goth and steampunk. Despite one originating in the early 1980s and the other being a fairly recent phenomenon, the two subcultures have a surprising amount of overlap—in everything from music to fashion to social scenes. In fact, I wrote a piece for Steampunk Tourist a few years ago on the overall similarities and differences between the two. But today I want to narrow in on one specific aspect that is at the root of both subcultures: the literature.  Continue reading Steampunk vs. Gothic Literature

The Roots of Gothic Literature

The term “Gothic” (with a capital G) refers to an era of literature and its accompanying trend in architecture during the late 18th century and throughout the 19th century. Both the literary and architectural movements were characterized by a return to medieval aesthetics. Fashionable English aristocrats, such as Horace Walpole, began to fill their estates with highly ornamented turrets and towers reminiscent of medieval churches.

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Cathedral of St. John the Divine–a church with Gothic elements

Meanwhile, many authors began to abandon the Enlightenment principles of rationality and reason in favor of exploring the pleasure that can be found in emotions like terror. The original Gothic stories featured Gothic castles, abbeys, and ruins of the sort that were now being recreated and were often set in a vaguely medieval past. They generally included elements of the supernatural in reaction against the recent trend of realism and were characterized by melodrama, mystery, and suspense. Listed below are some of the seminal works of early Gothic fiction. Continue reading The Roots of Gothic Literature

The Gothic Lit Starter Kit

New to gothic literature? Maybe you’ve always loved horror movies and dark films, and want to see if you can get the same shivery feels from the written word. Or maybe you’ve wandered over from another genre such as romance or fantasy after realizing that you kinda like the dark stuff. Or maybe you’re a baby bat who has found the clothing and the music but doesn’t know where to start with the books. Well, whatever brought you over to the dark side, I’m glad you came. Gothic literature is a magical world filled with so many abandoned castles, moonlit moors, and frightening forests to explore. But if you’ve never read anything in the genre (or loose collection of genres) before, jumping right in can seem a little…well, scary. But not to worry! Your favorite Gothic Librarian has put together the perfect little starter pack of gothic literature to get you into the genre.

Continue reading The Gothic Lit Starter Kit