Our first session saw us discuss ‘What is Gothic?’, with each group member offering their ideas on what Gothic means to them, and bringing in just one object to support their view. Objects ranged from vampire fangs and Gothic-inspired tattoos, through to novels such as Dracula.
We also examined three short poems, all with a witch theme. These were:
‘The Hag’ (1648) by Robert Herrick
‘The Witch of Coos’ (1922) by Robert Frost
‘Her Kind’ (1981) by Anne Sexton
Robert Frost’s offering, The Witch of Coos’, came out as the group’s favourite, and yet interestingly (we all noted) it was the least ‘witchy’ of the three, at least on the surface. It does, we felt, have several hidden meanings within its composition, not least the links to sexuality, the unknown and assumed knowledge within historical witchcraft.
All three poems have varying levels of Gothic imagery within their narrative, and we were treated to ghosts, skeletons, caves, woods, the haunted attic and a whole host of other ‘traditional’ symbology – perfect for the lead-up to Halloween.
Our aim is to stimulate debate and discussion over these texts under the Current Reading tab. Please post your thoughts and comments on any of the three texts in whatever shape or form you wish to.
We finished the session by exploring elements of Gothicness and what this would have meant to contemporary audiences, briefly looking at aspects of Dorian Gray, Frankenstein, Dracula and more recent offerings such as Hunger Games, Twilight and Harry Potter. This was stimulated by the newspaper article suggesting that we have nothing to learn by studying ‘fantasy’, and that the Classics should be the order of the day.
Suggestions were made for future reading material and we will be looking at this over the next few days. The next session will be in a fortnight, time and location to be confirmed shortly.