Dark Chocolate from the Literary Crypt: Teaching Contemporary Gothic Horror

Gina Wisker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


As a genre, Gothic horror has never been more popular on the university syllabus, yet, because it is often seen as low brow, popular culture, distasteful schlock, horror hides behind the ‘Gothic', its more respectable half, or behind speculative fiction, or period studies. Gothic horror appears in the work of classic and many contemporary writers. It is ubiquitous, a form of choice with which to deal with everything from concerns with identity, poverty and violence to cultural and gendered difference. This chapter will argue that teaching Gothic horror enables academics and students to co-construct culturally inflected understandings through engaging with literary and media representations of those issues that matter in life, such as identity, domestic securities, sexuality, race, the family, culture, the body, equality, sustainability, the future. The main examples I take here are Bram Stoker's highly influential Dracula (1897) and, more extensively, the Gothic horror of Neil Gaiman. While Stoker's canonical text raises issues of cultural and psychological responses to terrors concerning sexuality, race, migration and Otherness, Gaiman's work deals with similar issues but does so through referencing another horror master, H.P Lovecraft, splicing horror with the comic. In so doing, his work offers opportunities, in terms of teaching and learning, for us to use digital media and devices to co-construct knowledge through research, popular cultural references, and a seemingly live interaction with the author and his own comic Gothic horror writing processes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTeaching 21st century genres
EditorsKaty Shaw
Place of PublicationLondon, UK
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781137553911
ISBN (Print)9781137553911
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2016

Publication series

NameTeaching the New English

Bibliographical note

Gina Wisker, Dark Chocolate from the Literary Crypt: Teaching Contemporary Gothic Horror, In: Teaching 21st century genres, Katy Shaw (Ed.), 2016, Palgrave Macmillan UK, reproduced with permission of Palgrave Macmillan. This extract is taken from the author's original manuscript and has not been edited. The definitive, published, version of record is available here: http://www.palgrave.com/la/book/9781137553898


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