Course overview

This is an eight week course which will discuss the following novels: Frankenstein - Mary Shelley. Picture of Dorian Gray - Wilde. Dracula - Bram Stoker. The Turn of the Screw - Henry James. Two weeks' discussion will be devoted to each text and the books will be discussed in the order listed. We will discover the birth of Gothic literature and its development throughout the nineteenth century, noting how it changes in its emphasis and themes, as society develops scientifically and philosophically. The course will discuss the manner in which Gothic literature explores numerous questions which will be brought into sharper focus politically, scientifically and culturally as the twentieth century was born.

Course description

The course will begin with an introduction to the Gothic genre and how it evolves alongside and with the Romantic Movement, before discovering the origins of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a novel associated with both scientific and pseudo-scientific thought early in the nineteenth century. We will, of course, evaluate the anecdotes relating to the novel’s conception at the Villa Diodati and the evening spent with Byron and Doctor Polidori. We will then leap forwards to the second wave of Gothic literature in the last quarter of that century, and name check Sensation literature and Wilkie Collins. We will note how Bram Stoker’s Dracula emerges from this genre and exploits contemporary fears and flirts with issues relating to Darwinism and eugenics. Thereafter, we will discuss the Aesthetic movement in relation to Oscar Wilde and debate the role of morality in Dorian Gray. Finally, we will explore the haunting exploration of the psychological and the supernatural in Henry James’ novella The Turn of the Screw.

Themes which the course will highlight include political and philosophical anxiety in the nineteenth century, the changing status of women and the duty of responsibilities owed by creators/masters to the created/servants. Come along and take part in lively discussions.

What financial support is available?

We don't want anything to stand in your way when it comes to bringing Adult learning within reach so if you need anything to support you to achieve your goals then speak to one of our education experts during your enrolment journey. Most of our courses are government funded but if you don't qualify or need alternative financial help to access them then let us know.

What other support is available?

All of our digital content, teaching and learning activities and assessments are designed to be accessible so if you need any additional support you can discuss this with the education experts during your enrolment journey and we will do all we can to make sure you have optimal access.

Share this page:

Image of hands on a keyboard
Image overlay triangle

Download this course information

Lady giving a thumbs up to her tablet as she watches a WEA member lecture
Image overlay triangle

Become a WEA member today

For just £15 per year, you can access many great benefits, including our award-winning weekly member lectures.

Need more information?

Need help? Complete our form and our friendly Support Services team will be back in touch.

Course contact
I am most interested in (tick all that apply)

How do we use the information we gather from you?
Please see our privacy policy.