Re-imagining the Gothic

Re-imagining the Gothic: a new look at interdisciplinary research and public engagement

Last Saturday, May 9th, the University of Sheffield hosted academics and members of the public for the “Re-imagining the Gothic” Symposium and Showcasing event, conceived and organized by postgraduate researchers in the English Literature department. This new approach to interdisciplinary studies and public engagement was very successful and will hopefully facilitate new projects and collaborations in the future.

“Re-imagining the Gothic” is a multi-media and interdisciplinary project overseen by postgraduates in the English Literature Department specializing in Gothic areas of study. The initiative has organized and cultivated Gothic-related projects from a variety of academic areas and disciplines, studies in ‘The Gothic’ which tie into revitalizing, understanding, and ‘re-imagining’ Gothic studies. The question ‘what is the Gothic?’ was closely examined in a variety of new and interesting ways by enterprising postgraduates and academics.

Sheffield Gothic’s goals are to promote the research efforts of the English Literature Department and other departments throughout the University, emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of Gothic studies. This project is also meant promote the new Centre for the History of the Gothic at the University and hopefully will contribute to launching the Centre.

As such, Sheffield Gothic planned an exciting new event which took place May 9th in the Jessop West Exhibition Space at the University of Sheffield.

The opening event, which took place from 9.30 am to 2.30 pm, was an interdisciplinary symposium where presenters gave short talks on ‘re-imagining’ Gothic studies, either through new media interpretations or through interdisciplinary work. Politics, role-playing games, advertising, and films and T.V. were just a few of the topics discussed, providing a change from the literary focus of most Arts and Humanities-centred events. Speakers came from Sheffield and from outside universities such as Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Hull, the University of St. Andrews, and the University of York, among others.

The second half of the day, from 3.00 pm to 7.00 pm, then went a step further by putting these and other ideas into action in the form of physical displays and interactions. The Exhibition Space hosted a showcase of work in Gothic studies, displaying everything from mad scientists to architectural performance art to movie adaptations to photography to storytelling. A keynote speech from author Lynn Shepherd, author of “Murder at Mansfield Park” and “A Treacherous Likeness,” and a wine reception rounded off the day of academic engagement.

We hope, through this initiative, to expand on the Gothic’s interdisciplinary potential and explore new avenues of public engagement. Those who participated had the opportunity to network extensively with fellow Gothic-aficionados of different backgrounds and interests. The surprising result was that many people found common ground in places they never expected, as well as learning about viewpoints they had never examined before.

We hope to continue our work through a series of follow-up programs, many of which will continue to facilitate these kinds of interdisciplinary methodologies and present the results to public spaces.

For more details or for other information about Sheffield Gothic, follow us on twitter at

@SheffieldGothic and @Reimagining15 or

visit our blog at http://sheffieldgothicreadinggroup.blogspot.co.uk/

By Kathleen Hudson, May 2015