Imperial Gothic for Global Britain: BBC's Taboo (2017-present)

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This article discusses the BBC drama Taboo (2017-present) as a contemporary example of imperial Gothic and places the series in the context of a current trend of ‘imperial nostalgia’ in British culture. It provides a close reading of the series with regard to its use of gothic traits like the exploration of morbid psychology, the function of the ghost as a metaphor for past trauma, the use of locale for gothic effect, and the evocation of body horror. By reading this contemporary narrative against this generic tradition, the paper highlights the ability of the Gothic to reflect on historical transformations and contemporary manifestations of discourses of Empire. The series, the discussion argues, seeks to critique Empire by portraying it as the agent of monstrosity and horror but eventually reproduces stereotypes of colonial otherness that were fundamental to imperialist ideologies. In this sense, Taboo is a text just as ambivalent as earlier imperial Gothic texts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-329
Number of pages16
JournalGothic Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

This article has been accepted for publication by Edinburgh University Press in Gothic Studies.


  • Gothic
  • Empire
  • Imperial Gothic
  • Horror
  • Television

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