This is the honours proposal I did to get accepted into BA(Hons) this year.
For my honours year, I propose to both research Gothic fiction in a modern Australian setting and write a story in this genre. According to Gerry Turcotte, in the eyes of the colonial British, the Australian continent was a grotesque land, peopled by monsters, and was the dungeon of the world (Turcotte 1998). While this view certainly had racial undertones, it also accentuated a remote and sinister nature that the early colonisers would have felt. I wish to explore this remoteness in greater detail, employing the genre methods of Gothic fiction and dark romanticism. This fits in with the supervisor’s stated interest of the role of the Gothic in Australian fiction.
My aim with this research project is to explore the core concepts of Gothic fiction in a contemporary Australian setting, namely the Northern Rivers of New South Wales, in that behind the everyday world of the Australian twenty-first century, there is scope for the dark subtleties of the unknown and supernatural. There is also scope for exploration into the genre of dark romanticism made popular by the nineteenth century writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne. According to one book, this genre is seemingly held in higher regard than Gothic fiction, as when Gothic literature is mentioned, there is a flippant tendency to classify it all as “ghosts, demons, trapdoors, castles” where works with a dark romantic theme such as Wuthering Heights or Absalom, Absalom! are held in higher regard (Thompson cited in Novak 1976, pp 516-517). Dark romanticism fictions are works of melancholy, loneliness, introspection, loss and so forth, and frequently depict outcasts from society (University of Delaware 2011).
For a previous undergraduate class, I wrote a 5000 word story conflating the Gothic and dark romantic genres, where I used two previously published works, The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft and the Time Machine by H. G. Wells, as inspiration in a pastiche (Lovecraft 1926, Wells 1895, Booth 2016). The emphasis in my story was on the loneliness of the two characters and the innate loneliness of the worlds they found themselves in and there were additional questions raised as to character identity and love. So, I have a solid grounding in being able to produce creative works in these two genres.
My research therefore will be about bringing these two genres into a contemporary Australian setting. There is more than adequate potential for quality research here, particularly using Turcotte’s paper as an entry point, which will lead to contemporary works by Australian authors in this field, such as Helen Hodgman, Christopher Koch and Chloe Hooper, and beyond. With this, I believe that my story and exegesis will be well-placed in the realm of Australian Gothic fiction, and will add to it positively.
Booth P 2016, The Outsider and the Eloi, unpublished manuscript
Lovecraft H 1926, The Outsider, Weird Tales, April 1926
Novak M 1976, The Gothic imagination: Essays in dark romanticism (book review) , Nineteenth Century Fiction, 30(4), pp. 516-519
Turcotte G 1998, ‘Australian Gothic’, in Mulvey Roberts, M (ed), The Handbook to Gothic Literature, Macmillan, Basingstoke
University of Delaware 2011, Dark romanticism, University of Delaware Library, viewed 1 February 2016, http://www.lib.udel.edu/ud/spec/exhibits/romanticism/
Wells H 1895, The Time Machine, William Heinemann, London