Gothic delights

On Thursday 27th, we welcomed year 12 students to the department for a university preview day, an event that gives them the opportunity to see what university teaching is like and gives us a chance to get to know our applicants better. The theme for Thursday was a ‘Gothic Masterclass’, and we feel that the day matched the claims we made with that title!

                Students were shown a variety of perspectives on Gothic (from Anglo-Irish to Black British), and a range of approaches (from a close reading of the narrative framing device to an interrogation of the representation of servants). Everybody was asked to read a short story (‘Green Tea’ by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu) before the event, so that we could all work on the same text throughout the course of the day without being constrained by the A-level curriculum. We had lectures on Victorian medicine and mysticism and seminars on the conventions of Gothic literature. Students had time to work on a plan for an essay on ‘Green Tea’ and anyone who wishes to complete the essay they planned can send it to us and we will return it with feedback.


                All of the teaching staff involved with our Gothic Masterclass commented on how eager and engaged our visitors were. Even though they were in unfamiliar surroundings and in seminar groups with new faces, they were active in discussions from the start of the first seminar. Teachers who came with their students could sit in on classes, and they said they too found the classes interesting and useful.  The positive atmosphere was maintained throughout the day, and at lunchtime some of our students brought the visitors on a quick tour of our beautiful campus. The feedback we received at the end of the day was overwhelmingly positive, and many teachers promised to visit again. The department members of staff who contributed also told us that they enjoyed the experience – a day of gothic delights for us all!

                This was the second Year 12 events this year: the first was on Shakespeare’s Soliloquies in March. Both days were organised by Dr. Nicola Abrams and the Admissions team, with help from Amy Wigham from the Student Recruitment Office. On behalf of the department, we would like to thank Nicola and Amy for ensuring that these events were so successful. We look forward to seeing more Year 12 visitors next year.


About Cindy

Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading. Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
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