Beyond Literary Landscapes—The Gothic Novel

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.


This week, we have an introduction to the Gothic Novel genre, a reminder of some of the genre’s classics, and as an inspiration for further reading.

Some leading figures of the Gothic Novel include Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Emily Brontë, and Thomas Hardy.  Other authors include Bram Stoker.


The Gothic Novel can be defined as “European Romantic pseudomedieval fiction having a prevailing atmosphere of mystery and terror.”  Although popularized in the 1790s, it has been revived over the years.

Some examples of Gothic Novel characteristics include haunted castles and homes, monsters, ghosts, a suspenseful atmosphere, nightmares, terrifying weather and settings, moody protagonists, and death.

Some well-known Gothic Novels include Shelley’s Frankenstein, Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

Other novels include Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher.

For students who would like to read a similar genre to the Gothic Novel, they may also enjoy Horror and Mystery works.


Many of these works take place in the United Kingdom, including England, as well as Romania.


Many of these works take place during the 18 and 19th-centuries.


These works may be of interest to readers who would like to know more about the origins and subsequent revivals of the Gothic Novel, as well as its relation to the horror and mystery genres.  They may also interest readers who enjoy mystery, suspense, and the supernatural.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to the Gothic Novel are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with a counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic may consider ENGL 395: The Nineteenth-Century English Novel, a senior-level, six-credit course, which “introduces the student to some of the major English novels of the nineteenth century.”  The current course revision includes Shelley’s Frankenstein, Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles. 

Students can also consider ENGL 491: Directed Studies in Literature, a senior-level, three-credit course, which allows for “an extended research and writing project under the direction of a professor.”  Note that this course requires several prerequisites, including ENGL 211: Prose Forms and ENGL 212: Poetry and Plays, two senior-level (300/400) ENGL courses, and professor approval.  Happy reading!