‘The Gothic Sensibility: Victorian ‘Gloomths’ to the Contemporary ‘Death Curious’ : An Illustrated Lecture with Romany Reagan
Date: Tuesday, July 21rst
Admission: $8 ( Tickets Here )
Location: Morbid Anatomy Museum, 424 Third avenue, 11215 NY Brooklyn
In small doses, melancholy, alienation, and introspection are among life’s most refined pleasures. -Rebecca Solnit
The modern term ‘Goth’, that is given to people of a certain music scene or fashion subculture, is not a new one. What we have come to think of as a ‘Gothic Sensibility’ has been around since the mid-eighteenth century; beginning with the Graveyard Poets, who were characterised by their gloomy meditations on mortality elicited by spending time in graveyards. The crumbling monastic ruins left over from Henry VIII’s Anglicising time of terror lent the English landscape the appearance of a purpose-built set designed for these themes. The subsequent landscape paintings and ubiquity of Gothic literature capitalising on this ruin-strewn environment had, by the 19th century, become mainstream. This illustrated lecture will examine the evolution of the ‘Gothic Sensibility’ from its literary roots in the 18th century Graveyard Poets and ‘Gloomths’, to the music and fashion turn with the gothic revival of the late 20th century, to the contemporary Death Positive movement of today.
Gathering research from various books, cemetery tours, and museum exhibits, this talk aims to bring the Gothic Sensibility out of the shadows of predictability and trite ‘outsider’ judgement. An examination of how these themes have evolved and survived through the ages and of current media coverage of the ever-expanding catalogue of Death Positive events and exhibitions belies any assumptions that the appeal of the Gothic is relegated the relatively small fringes of society.
Romany Reagan is a PhD candidate at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her practice explores theories of anachronistic space, grief symbolisation and site-based performance in Abney Park Cemetery. Areas of research encompass theatre archaeology, heterotopias, liminal spaces, human geography, the uncanny and the Victorian ‘cult of the dead’.