Walls of Words

Nicole Lobdell

Nicole Lobdell is a Visiting Assistant Professor of English in 19th-century British literature at DePauw University in Greencastle, IN.




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The word Gothic calls forth Western images of haunted castles, dark passageways, and noises in the night, but the Gothic occurs in many literary traditions across the world. In this course, we will explore how different literatures characterize the Gothic. What identifies British Gothic from Indian Gothic or Japanese Gothic? We will also trace developments in the Gothic short story form from the 19th century to the present. For example, nineteenth- and twentieth-century Western authors wrote Gothic short stories as they traversed the eastern edges of the British Empire in India. In turn, Indian writers, like Rabindranath Tagore, adopted and adapted the Gothic short story form for their own uses. Tagore’s own Indian Gothic combines features of traditional Bengali ghost stories with those of British Gothic to criticize British colonial rule in India. Why did the Gothic short story become such a popular vehicle for nineteenth-century writers on both sides of the colonial divide? How do postcolonial writers today use the Gothic? In addition to reading Gothic short stories by European and American writers, we will read widely in works by writers from Iraq, India, Cambodia, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, China, and the Philippines.