This weekend we’re heading back in time and into the realms of myth, legend and folklore! You can sign up here
On Saturday, Romancing the Gothic favourite Icy Sedgwick is joining us to talk
‘Vampires, Barghests, Red Caps, and More: A Compendium of Northern Folklore’
Forget what you think you know about the industrial north. This is a Gothic land steeped in magic and mystery. These contested borders, dark forests, harsh moors, and raging seas are home to many ghostly, gruesome, and, on occasion, gargantuan creatures of legend. This class will explore some of the folklore, myths, and legends of northern England, stretching into the Scottish borders, including vampires, barghests, witches, faeries, and even the odd dragon or two. It can be a harsh world up there beyond the Wall…
On Sunday, Mira Gutoff will be walking us through the ‘Arthurian Gothic’
Arthurian legends and literature have a long history- Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain was written in 1136, based on what seem to be older legends, and they’ve gone in and out of fashion ever since. From Chretien de Troyes’ romances to epic poems like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to bizarre German and Dutch texts, they all laid the foundation for future chivalric works, which in turn influenced Don Quixote, often argued to be the first novel. They also laid the groundwork for the gothic- without tales of ancient castles, tyrannical lords, feeling lovers, and supernatural curses, there would be no Castle of Otranto! In 1816, the same year Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein and John Polidori began The Vampyre, Thomas Mallory’s Morte D’Arthur was translated into English in a new edition. Tennyson further added to public interests in the legends with his Idylls of the King poetic cycle, and 19th century literature would never be the same.
The old Arthurian legends were gothic in more ways than simply being medieval, however. Sins of the parents being visited upon the children, morally ambiguous witches and magicians, pagan spirits, monsters, true love, adultery, rape, incest, family members killing each other- these stories have it all, and were usually written to have taken place several centuries back, no matter when the authors lived! All of this has influenced writers from Anne Radcliffe to Edgar Allan Poe, and continues to fascinate readers today. In a lecture, I would talk about both the influences these works had as well as the many, many themes writers have used them to explore.