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Gothic Transformations

Vak 2017-2018

Admission requirements

A relevant BA degree (preferably in the humanties; and preferably with a literay and/or cultural studies component).


Gothic Transformations concerns the rise and development of Gothic fiction since the late eighteenth century. The Gothic has its roots in German and British Romanticism, reached its zenith as a popular genre in Britain and the Unites States in the course of the nineteenth century, and branched out into various new forms and subgenres in the course of the twentieth century, especially in the medium of film. The course will focus on the formal and thematic developments of the Gothic by studying classic works in their literary and broader cultural-historical contexts, as well as Gothic transformations in film. In relation to the BA curriculum at Leiden University the course builds on students’ exploration of Romantic and Gothic aesthetics and themes covered in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century courses in the various language and literature programmes. As such, the tutors involved in Gothic transformations will assume a basic knowledge and understanding of Romanticism and the Gothic, and will focus specifically on how the Gothic transformed formally and thematically by studying texts from three nations that have engaged in intense cross-cultural traffic since the Romantic era: Germany, Britain, and the United States.

Course objectives

The course aims to give students:
• Specific knowledge of the Gothic’s development as a form of artistic expression that has its origins in Romantic aesthetics, but flowered also as a form of popular consumer culture directly engaged with the social concerns and anxieties of a large body of readers.
• Awareness of and insight into the benefits of studying cultural productions in an international context. Being able to recognize cross-cultural developments and exhanges will help students to understand that human artistic, intellectual and scientific endeavours are never constricted by geo-political boundaries, but are distributed, shared and debated through various forms of print and other media.
• various critical approaches to the study of popular genres.
• The chance to further develop their academic reading, research and writing skills by means of written coursework. Such widely applicable academic skills will play an important role in any student’s future career.


The timetable is available on the Literary Studies website.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture
  • Seminar
  • Self motivated research and study
  • A (voluntary) excursion to the Heksenwaag (the Witchcraft Museum) in Oudewater

Course Load

The course load is 10 ECTS = 280 hours of study.
• ±24 hours of tutorial
• ±150 hours of studying primary and secondary material in preparation for tutorials
• ±106 hours for independent research and writing of coursework
This is an approximation; some students read quickly and write slowly and vice versa.

Assessment method

Students will write two research essays of 2500 words each (for Dr. Newton and Dr. Van Leeuwen respectively), following the MLA style sheet for research papers. Following the MLA style sheet is not option, but a basic requirement for this course. Just as in any professional workplace, a young academic needs to learn to adapt his or her work to the demands of the field she is working in. The MLA style sheet is the most widely used stylesheet in the field of English-language literary scholarship, so learning about this style sheet is part of the job.

The response paper will count for 20% of the final grade; the two essays each will count for 40% of the final grade. The minimum grade for each piece of coursework is 6. This means that any piece of coursework graded lower than 6 will have to be revised and improved before a final grade can be rewarded.

Each tutor will provide a list of topics and ideas from which students are expected to develop their own research questions and thesis statements. Students are expected to use the university library resources to compile a bibliography of relevant secondary sources on their topic. Students will need to show that they can properly integrate secondary material into their essays and that they are aware of and can reflect on the critical framework they utilize for their analysis.

Each tutor will give instructions on how he wants the students to submit their essays for grading; all essays need to be submitted to Blackboard via Turnitin for a plagiarism check and archiving. Any essay found to contain clear signs of plagiarism or intellectual fraud will be forwarded to the board of examiners immediately.

The deadline for submitting course work essays will be determined by each tutor and will be posted on the Blackboard site of the course sometime in the first half of the semester. There will be one re-sit deadline for all essays on which students can submit papers judged insufficient by the tutors. This will also be the deadline for students who have to catch up on papers they could not submit on the original deadline due to illness or another acceptable reason.


Blackboard will be used to:

  • post reading materials available as PDFs or online.
  • post power point slides used in the tutorials.
  • post assignment grades (only the final grades will appear in USIS).
  • share useful and informative links to online sources concerning the Gothic.
  • communicate with students via the Blackboard mail service or the announcement.

Reading list

Required Reading:
• Various literary, contextual and theoretical texts made available as PDFs or links on Blackboard
• Daphe Du Maurier, The Birds and Other Stories (Virago)
• Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables (Norton Critical Edition).
• James Hogg, Confessions of a Justified Sinner. Ed. Ian Duncan (Oxford World’s Classics).
• Stephen King, The Dark Half (Hodder)
• Michael Newton, ed. The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories (Penguin Classics).
• Ann Radcliffe, The Romance of the Forest. (Oxford World’s Classics).
• Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (Norton Critical Edition).

Required viewing (students are expected to have watched these films as preparation for various tutorials):

• Murnau (dir), Nosferatu (1922).
• Herzog (dir), Nosferatu (1979).
• Polanski (dir), Rosemary’s Baby (1968).
• Hitchcock (dir), The Birds (1963).


Enrolment through uSis for classes, exams and final paper for classes, exams and final papers is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

When registering students of the MA Literary studies take priority. The deadline for registration is August 15. All other students should contact the coordinator of studies: Jurjen Donkers.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs



For questions about the content of the course, you can contact the teacher: Evert-Jan van Leeuwen

Literary Studies departmental office

Coordinator of studies: Mr. J. Donkers, MA


The reading material for week 1 will be made available as e-texts in the coursedocuments folder on Blackboard. It will contain excerpts from eighteenth-century writings on terror and the supernatural, Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, and Bürger’s Lenore (translated by Walter Scott).