Gothic Literature

Dear students

First thank you for your commitment in the COP 21 project and for your efforts at using several languages which underlined the international aspect of the conference.

Today we are studying a totally different topic: Gothic Literature.
Here is the document we studied last week: The Nightmare, by Henry Fuseli

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Now let’s focus on three definitions of the Gothic: read through the following definitions, discuss the differences.

Definition 1: Oxford English Dictionary
– Of, pertaining to, or concerned with the Goths and their language. Formerly used in an
extended sense, now expressed by Teutonic and Germanic.
– Belonging to, or characteristic of, the Middle Ages and medieval, “romantic”, as opposed
to classical. In early use, chiefly, with reprobation, belonging to the “Dark Ages”.
– A term for the style of architecture prevalent in Western Europe from the 12th to the 16th
century, of which the chief characteristic is the pointed arch. Applied also to buildings,
architectural deatails, and ornementation.
– Barbarous, rude, uncouth, unpolished, in bad taste.
– Of temper = savage.
Definition 2: Collins Essential Dictionary (2006)
– Adjective.
1. of a style of architecture used in Western Europe from the 12th to the 16th centuries,
characterised by pointed arches, ribbed vaults and flying buttresses.
2. Of a literary style featuring stories of gloom, horror, and the supernatural, popular in the
late 18th century.
3. Of or in a heavy ornate script typeface.
– Noun
Gothic. Architecture or art.
Definition 3: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000, 2009)
The combination Gothic romance represents a union of the major influences in the
development of European cultures, the Roman Empire and the Germanic tribes that
invaded it. The Roman origin of romance must be thought in the etymology of that word,
but we can see clearly that gothic is related to the name Goth used for one of those
invading Germanic tribes. The word Gothic, first recorded in 1611 in a reference to the
language of the Goths, was extended in sense in several ways, meaning “Germanic”,
“medieval, not classical”, “barbarous”, and also an architectural style that was not Greek
or Roman. Horace Walpole applied the word Gothic to his novel The Castle of Otranto, a
Gothic Story (1765) in the sense “medieval, not classical”. From this novel filled with
scenes of terror and gloom in a medieval setting descended a literary genre still popular
today; from its subtitle descended the name for it.

Go on the internet, type gothic and make notes on what comes up in the first 2-3 hits.

TASK: Write your own definition of the Gothic.

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