Gothic Spaces Keynote

Sheffield Gothic is delighted that this year our keynote for Reimagining the Gothic 2017: Gothic Spaces will be the wonderful Dale Townshend, Professor of Gothic Literature at Manchester Metropolitan University. You can find details about Professor Townshend and his keynote talk below.

Towards a Poetics of Gothic Space: From Bachelard to Beckford and Beyond

This lecture seeks to assess the applicability of Gaston Bachelard’s influential phenomenology of architecture in The Poetics of Space (1958) to the reading of ‘Gothic space’, be that architectural space as it is presented in Gothic fiction, or in such ‘real-life’ Gothic spaces as Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill and William Beckford’s Fonthill Abbey. Although, in its concerns with attics, cellars and the dream-like return of the houses of the past to those who once inhabited them, Bachelard’s thesis appears to offer much to students of the literary and architectural Gothic, the usefulness of his account, the lecture argues, is considerably attenuated by his deliberate exclusion of salient Gothic examples.  Working systematically through a range of fictional and actual architectural spaces from the eighteenth century to the present day, this lecture attempts to construct an alternative poetics of Gothic space, one founded precisely on the Gothic impulses that Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space refuses to countenance. 

Dale Townshend is Professor of Gothic Literature in the Centre for Gothic Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University.  His most recent publications include The Gothic World (with Glennis Byron; Routledge, 2014) and Romantic Gothic: An Edinburgh Companion (with Angela Wright; Edinburgh University Press, 2016).  The recipient of an AHRC Leadership Fellowship (June 2015–December 2016), he is currently completing Writing Britain’s Ruins, 1700–1850 and Gothic Antiquity: History, Romance and the Architectural Imagination, 1760–1840, two major projects that explore the relationship between Gothic architecture and Gothic fiction, drama and poetry in the long eighteenth century.


Reimagining the Gothic 2017: Gothic Spaces is generously sponsored by the AHPGR Forum and the Alumni Foundation at the University of Sheffield.