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Introduction to Gothic Literature & E. A. Poe

Presents an overview to Gothic themes as well as Poe's work.

David Wright

on 5 February 2015

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Transcript of Introduction to Gothic Literature & E. A. Poe

An Introduction to Gothic Literature
Edgar Allan Poe's Writing
CCES - English I
1. What makes a text "Gothic"?

2. Why is Poe a good representative of the Gothic?
Two Main Questions for Consideration
Two Meanings of "Unspeakable"
Is Any "Thing" Inherently Gothic?
Hooked on a Feeling...
At Its Best:
Gothic texts explore the dark and shadowy (unspeakable) areas of human life by seamlessly combining the strange and forbidden (meaning #1) with the metaphorical (meaning #2), to produce a strong emotional response in their audiences.
The Descendants of the Gothic Tradition
"I prefer commencing with the consideration of an '
.' [...] Having chosen a novel, first, and secondly a vivid effect, I consider whether it can best be wrought by incident or tone--whether by ordinary incidents and peculiar tone, or the converse, or by peculiarity of both incident and tone--afterward looking about me (or rather within) for such combinations of event, or tone, as shall best aid me in the construction of the
Edgar Allan Poe in "The Philosophy of Composition"
1. The forbidden, taboo, odd, weird, macabre, etc. The societal unacceptable.
2. The literally unspeakable or ineffable. Feelings and ideas that defy normal description.
But Also...
The Enlightenment
A period of roughly 130 years (1685-1815), during which the foundations of our world (Europe & North America) in philosophy, politics, science, business developed.
Also called
The Age of Reason
Isaac Newton,
Benjamin Franklin,
Immanuel Kant,
The Enlightenment gives way to:
Romanticism, more than anything else, is the cult of the individual--the cultural and psychological nativity of the I--the Self--the inner spark of divinity that links one human being to another and all human beings to the Larger Truth.
-- Thomas Hampson
What is that "Larger Truth"?
Well, that depends on the individual you ask...
What if you asked Edgar Allan Poe?
Poe's Detective Stories
William Wordsworth, English
Romantic poet
Richard Wagner,
Romantic composer
Ralph Waldo Emerson,
Romantic-era essayist
and philosopher
"The Murders in the Rue Morgue" (1841)
"The Mystery of Marie Roget" (1842)
"The Purloined Letter" (1844)
In these stories, Poe's fictional detective, C. Auguste Dupin, combines the logical precision prized during the Enlightenment with the individual imagination prized during the Romantic era. This is a combination we still prize highly (and pay dearly for) today in our entertainment.
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