The Gothic Bible Project

This project constitutes an interdisciplinary approach to investigating instances within the Bible and Gothic fiction (i.e. literature, drama, and film) that demonstrate an interplay between biblical concepts/iconography and the literary Gothic mode.

Black and white image of St Mary's Church and churchyard in Whitby

From its inception, this literary genre has continued to showcase associations with the Bible, theology, and/or religion; this project seeks to highlight and explore these ongoing relationships. Hosted at the University of Sheffield (United Kingdom), The Gothic Bible Project combines the University’s Sheffield Centre for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SCIBS) and The Centre for the History of the Gothic.

Our research aims

The Gothic Bible Project seeks to enrich the study of the Bible and Gothic fiction by examining (1) Gothic fiction (i.e. literature, drama, and film) that exhibit biblical/religious iconography or (2) biblical texts that reveal instances mirroring those associated with the literary Gothic mode.

Additionally, this project desires to incorporate the academic disciplines of theology and philosophy to bolster its investigative approach. The Gothic Bible Project combines these academic fields into a conversation with one another to study the reception and ongoing relevance of biblical concepts/iconography in not only past Gothic fiction but modern Gothic narratives as well. The Gothic Bible Project ultimately aims to extend the reach of Gothic studies into other academic disciplines to promote its interdisciplinary characteristics.

Past events

Buffy and the Bible Conference

In July 2019, Gothic Bible researchers, along with researchers from York and Kingston University London, won a collaborative funding bid from WRoCAH and AHRC to host an exciting interdisciplinary conference: Buffy and the Bible. This two day conference brought together, for the first time, scholars from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives to investigate the contribution which religion and the Bible makes to the construction of the Buffyverse and its reception.

One of the most widely analysed texts in contemporary popular culture, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) has given rise to new understandings of the relationship between religion and popular culture. As well as investigating these connections, the conference used Buffy as a case study to interrogate interdisciplinary methodologies and frameworks for studying the relationship between religion and popular culture.

As well as a full programme of exciting talks and presentations, the conference included a sing-a-long screening of the groundbreaking musical episode 'Once More with Feeling' and a keynote presentation from Professor Matthew Pateman. The researchers involved in the organisation were Emma Nagouse, Mary Going, Holly Dan, Kelly Richards, D'Arcy-Reed, Naomi Hetherington, Dana Alex and Ash Darrow.

‘Gothic Theology and Morality’ panel at the 13th Biennial International Gothic Association (IGA) conference

On 21st July 2017 at the 'IGA: Gothic Traditions and Departures' held at UDLA in Cholula, Mexico, our co-directors Christopher Scott and Mary Going presented papers as part of a Gothic Theology and Morality Panel. Christopher's paper was titled Gothic Theologies: Eden, Religious Tradition, and Ecological Exegesis in Algernon Blackwood's 'The Lost Valley' and 'The Transfer', and Mary Going’s paper was titled A New Cain: Examining Matthew Lewis' Wandering Jew as the Archetype for the Gothic Wandering Jew. You can read more about the IGA conference here.

Gothic Bible Conference

On 31st October 2017, SCIBS and Sheffield Gothic hosted Gothic Bible, a one day, interdisciplinary conference. Fittingly taking place on Halloween, and with the venue suitable decorated in Gothic and Halloween attire, Gothic Bible brought together students and academics from Biblical and Gothic studies to share their research. Keynoting the conference was Dr. Naomi Hetherington, a tutor in the Department for Lifelong Learning and member of SIIBS, with her talk '"Cos it's always got to be blood": Sacrifice, Self-harm and the Sacred in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Five.' Gothic Bible also included four panels, contributing a diverse range of papers which explored the following themes: 'Figures of Christ, Satan, and Demons', 'The Bible, Gothic, and Illness', 'National and Religious Identity', and 'The Bible and Gothic in Digital Media and Culture'.

Project Leads

Mary Going

Mary Going is a PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield researching Judaism within Romantic and Gothic fiction of the 1790s and early nineteenth century. Her research centres on depictions of Jewish identities and communities within the fiction of this period, with a particular focus on the figure of the Wandering Jew. She co-organizer of the 'Reimagining the Gothic' project, an ongoing interdisciplinary project created and run by Sheffield Gothic which hosts an annual 'Reimagining the Gothic' Symposium and Creative Showcase.

Twitter: @MazGoing

Christopher Scott

Christopher is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield studying English literature with a particular focus on supernatural fiction during the Edwardian era. He is a member of University of Sheffield’s Reimagining the Gothic and Sheffield Centre for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SCIBS). His research interests lie in supernatural fiction and film alongside representations of theological iconography and the natural environment.

Dr Naomi Hetherington

Dr Naomi Hetherington is University Tutor in English and Humanities in the Department of Lifelong Learning. Her research focuses on religion, gender and biblical interpretation in popular literature and culture, primarily in the late-Victorian period, but she also has an ongoing research interest in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003). She became co-lead of the Gothic Bible Project in February 2019 after giving the keynote address on 'Sacrifice, Self-harm and the Sacred in Buffy the Vampire Slayer' at the inaugural Gothic Bible Conference in October 2017. Her publications include Amy Levy: Critical Essays co-edited with Nadia Valman (Ohio UP, 2010), a special issue of Women: a Cultural Review 21.3 (2010) on Rethinking the History of Feminism co-edited with Marc Calvini-Lefebvre, Esme Cleall, Daniel Grey, Angela Grainger and Laura Schwartz and a special issue of Victorian Review 37.3 (2011) on Late-Victorian Religion and Sexuality co-edited with Joy Dixon. She is currently General Editor of a 4-volume Routledge Historical Resource on Nineteenth-Century Religion, Literature and Society (forthcoming March 2020). She is also on the editorial board of JIBS (Journal for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies) and the Victorian Popular Fictions Journal.

Twitter: @DrNHetherington

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