Gothic literature bites back

Vampires, pixies and zombies have captured the imaginations of budding authors and film makers at an enthralling Gothic Literature workshop hosted by the University of Sheffield.


Gothic creationsOver the past five years hugely successful films and books such as Stephenie Meyers' Twilight Saga have sparked a fascination with Gothic Literature which is now sweeping classrooms across South Yorkshire.

Creative pupils from Silverdale School, Springs Academy and Fir Vale School in Sheffield, have been given the unique opportunity to work with experts from the University's School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, to transform their very own Gothic stories into short films for the big screen.

Throughout the innovative two month project, the youngsters will enhance their creative writing skills, gain hands-on experience producing storyboards, and learn how to film and edit their own mini movies.

Dr Angela Wright, Senior Lecturer in Romantic Literature, and Dr Helena Ifill, Lecturer in 19th century Literature, have been working alongside undergraduate and postgraduate students from the School of English to help the pupils explore the tropes and features of Gothic novels from the 1700s to the present day.

"This generation of budding writers are simply fascinated by books like the Twilight Saga and television programmes like Being Human and The Vampire Diaries which have really helped to popularise this genre of literature once again," Dr Wright said.

"The pupils are intrigued and captivated by Gothic Literature and it gives them the freedom to let their imaginations run wild.

"Their enthusiasm is wonderful and the stories they have created are truly magnificent.

"The youngsters have been analysing 18th century texts and looking at the similarities between those stories and novels read by youngsters today."

Budding authorsMabeenah Wahwed, 13, from Fir Vale School said: "We explored different aspects of Gothic Literature and decided to move away from traditional vampires and zombies and depict a story about pixies in a magical land.

"Working with the students and the staff from the University is brilliant because we get to use our imagination and be as creative as we like.

"Talking to the students also means that we can find out about University life and what a degree in English could lead to career wise.

"In literature there is no wrong answer so we can explore lots of different styles of writing and use ideas from novels which were written hundreds of years ago."

Fellow Fir Vale School pupil, Sabbah Hussain, 14, added: "We are all fans of Twilight and Gothic Literature is such an interesting subject. I was really surprised to hear that you can study the module at University as I would love to do that when I am older. The stories are so captivating and it is a brilliant experience to develop our creative writing.

"We are all really looking forward to watching our finished trailers at the special screening next month. It will feel like a real movie premiere and we hope the audience enjoy it."

The talented pupils will work on their innovative movie with Rajnish Madaan of Neesh Productions and the University’s School of English over the next month before showcasing their unique creations at a special screening on Wednesday 20 March, 2013.

Captivating creativityThe Gothic Bites screening is open to the public and will take place at the Richard Roberts Auditorium at the University of Sheffield on Brook Hill, Leavygreave Road between 6pm and 8.30pm.

Project Officer and English Literature PhD student, Kate Gadsby-Mace, said: "It is great to see the youngsters so interested in 18th century literature. They have really enjoyed analysing the roles of heroines and exploring different elements of romance and fantasy.

"The ideas they have come up with for their movie trailers are phenomenal and every single working group has dreamt up a different concept.

"It is brilliant to see their passion for English develop over the course of the workshop and it is a wonderful way for them to integrate and work with pupils from different schools."

If you would like to attend the Gothic Bites free screening please book your seats with Dr Helena Ifill at

Additional information

School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics
School of English

The University of Sheffield
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Amy Pullan
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The University of Sheffield
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