News and Updates

28-31 October: Whitby Gothic Weekend (WGW) - Hello Yorkshire

Some news! We have a patreon now. Here it is. If you can though, please support me via the ko-fi here. Why? Because with Patreon you pay more and I/the project gets less. Significantly less (for me) and significantly more (for you). Any questions, please ask!

‘Romancing the Gothic’ started off as a single free lecture online. I really didn’t expect that many people to be interested and I was blindsided by how it took off. I couldn’t have imagined the next few months! This is a project which started off small but has given me chance and space, among all the horrors, stresses and worries of the world right now, to do and support some of the things I love best. We moved from one class to weekly classes, added a book group, invited authors, added a film group, made a website, started inviting guest speakers, ran whole days of Gothic Creation including an author showcase with open submissions… and built a lovely community. I love what it’s become and I’m excited about the future.

There are a few key principles to Romancing the Gothic, which we started off with and have become solidified over time. There’s also been growth and changes! To my mind, this is what the project is all about:

  1. Education should be free

A lack of funds shouldn’t be a barrier to learning. It’s that simple. It’s especially relevant at the moment when so many people are suffering from the financial hardships and social isolation connected to this pandemic. Romancing the Gothic runs on a pay as you feel/pay as you can basis. If you can’t pay, you’re just as welcome.

Romancing the Gothic provides classes from experts all over the world, willing to lend their time and effort to share their research, knowledge and enthusiasm. Thank you for supporting them when you can.

2. Supporting precarious academics and facilitating space for marginalised voices and diverse fields of knowledge

Romancing the Gothic is a community that values, appreciates and wants to support the work of academics and experts, particularly those marginalised within or without academia and precariously employed. The project includes lectures from established and new voices, with people offering access to fresh and exciting research from a range of areas of expertise and experience. I am so lucky to have been able to go to the guest speaker classes. I can’t even tell you how much I’ve learnt!

Academia is rife with free labour and its exploitation (feel free to ask me if you’re not familiar) and I have also wanted this to be a project where experts can not only share their research and their voice but also receive some acknowledgement for it. The generosity of people coming to the classes and tipping the speakers has been amazing. THANK YOU. This is one of the reasons though why I’ve opened the patreon – I want hopefully to offer these generous speakers some token of our thanks.

3. Support and celebrate Gothic writing, particularly that produced by independent publishers, self-published authors and marginalised voices

Our book group list is never-ending. The group discussions are a safe space and, I hope, a community space where we can share our love for Gothic literature and open our horizons, discovering new authors and new perspectives and supporting independent projects.

4. Celebrate Gothic Creativity

Our latest addition are the days of Gothic creation, where creators offer workshops and activities and where we have a live author showcase. As with everything I do, I want to facilitate a space for other people to share their passion, knowledge, expertise and creativity with activities open to anyone. The idea of the day is about celebrating all sorts of creativity – showcasing the range of Gothic gorgeousness out there. (I’m always looking for new collaborators)

5. An international and inclusive project

The think that I love most about Romancing the Gothic and would love to work on more is that its so international and so open and friendly. There are as few barriers as I can work out and I very much appreciate input on doing better if and when I miss something.

I hope that for most this feels like a community and a community where everyone is welcome and valued.

Just a reminder, people are welcome to take part as much or as little as they like. There’s no pre-requisites. There’s no bar to entry based on location or education and this is a space which welcomes and is safe for people of all communities and identities. (There are always things we can do better and I try to listen to voices which speak up to question or correct me. I can’t promise that I won’t sometimes get it wrong, but I can promise that I will always listen and try to make things work better.)

Cute Ghosts GIF by Reactions | Gfycat

Why a Patreon?

People have been very kind in supporting me and our speakers over the last few months. If you want to continue supporting speakers individually (when you can), that’s totally fine!

In order to a) make the project viable long term for me, b) be able to offer some definite compensation for speakers and c) offer a perhaps more financially easy option to regular attenders or supporters, I’ve started the patreon.

Let me go through those points!

A) To make the project viable long term

Ultimately, I spend upwards of 20 hours a week on this project on average and sometimes much more. In realistic terms, it isn’t sustainable without some support.

In case you’re wondering, and if anyone thinks I must secretly be quite rich to do all this and not get paid for it… I’m not. A lot of people aren’t necessarily aware of the realities of academia, see the full lecturer or professor salaries and think that is normal in the sector. I’m a precarious academic. I usually earn less that £500 a month from university teaching (if I get any) and I have a number of hats that I put on each in turn to make up the shortfall!

B) and C) Supporting Speakers and Easing Financial Burden

I totally support people tipping individual speakers (please continue to do so!) but if you want to give one amount a month, I will use the patreon to build a kitty which will be shared among the speakers. My first aim on patreon is to get enough to pay speakers £10 for an hour. It’s not much (considering one hour of teaching is hours of prep) but meeting the goal depends on you. If you know any millionaires…maybe tell them to pop a bit in the pot!

oliver twist more promo - YouTube

Patreon works on a tier system with rewards at different tiers. Our lowest tier is £5 a month. What do you support for the £5 a month?

2 hr Saturday lecture every week (x2)

1 hr Sunday Gothic class every week (x2)

2 hr book discussion every week (x2)

2 hr film club every week

1 day of Gothic creation a month featuring at least 4 workshops and a live author showcase

That’s a hell of a lot for £5! Thank you! The other tiers go up in jumps. If you can support the project, please pay as you feel. The higher levels also include one-to-one classes with me swappable with other services found on this website (e.g. proofreading)

I also have a ko-fi and from September, that ko-fi is going to be specifically for funds for me (rather than the speakers) unless otherwise clearly stated by you. Please do use ko-fi if you can and if you choose to donate monthly through ko-fi, you only have to tell me once that it’s for the speakers/project as a whole and not just for me. What would tips for me personally go to?

Running and facilitating of events (including book groups)

Several mountains of admin every week (author invites, sign ups, link sharing, speaker contact, tech checks, communication with attendees, spreadsheets of doom, so many emails, website updates, competition running, video uploads…)

Blog posts, read-along videos, informative tweet threads/rants

Running costs e.g. zoom membership

If you got to the bottom – well done! Thanks for sticking with me. Thanks for all the support, all the enthusiasm, all the community and everything. Let’s hope we can keep going and make this something wonderful.

Published by SamHirst

This started off as a story blog to share the little fictions that I like to write but it's turned into something a bit more Goth! I'm Dr Sam Hirst and I research the Gothic, theology and romance and at the moment I'm doing free Gothic classes online! We also have readalongs, watchalongs and reading groups. And I post fun little Gothic bits when I have the chance. Find me on twitter @RomGothSam

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