Gothic Manchester Festival Conference
Saturday 28 October 2017
Call for Papers
Gothic Style(s), Gothic Substance
After the great success of last year’s Gothic North conference, our attention turns this year to the topic of Gothic Style(s).
At the start of the twenty first century, the Gothic is ubiquitous. Fiction and film, television and graphic novels have not only made the Gothic’s plots and protagonists their own, but have brought Gothic style(s) even more firmly into the mainstream. Victorian Gothic architecture looms large over modern cities such as Manchester, contemporary Goth fashion and music tirelessly reference the mode, and our streets and bars, clubs and homes have generated new Gothic styles of their own.
But is there substance to the Gothic’s many styles? Does the Gothic continue to reveal the great unspoken truths of our world? Did it ever? Is the Gothic anything more than a commercial product that may be sold, as a recognisable style, to a new generation of consumers? Was it ever thus? What cultural functions do Gothic styles serve? And how have these evolved from the Enlightenment to the neoliberal present?
This one-day conference invites abstracts for papers of 20 minutes on any aspect of Gothic style(s) and / or substance. As such, topics may include, but are most certainly not limited to:
Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words to Dr Linnie Blake, Head of the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies, by 1 August 2017.
Following the success of previous years, The Gothic Manchester Festival was stitched up and re-animated again in October 2016. We returned this year with a theme close to our fast-beating Mancunian hearts: “The Gothic North.”
Whilst early gothic novels looked frequently to the lascivious Catholic south for its characters, settings and thematics, the ancient, hostile and frequently grim spectre of ‘the north’ has haunted the gothic mode since Frankenstein’s monster fled across the ice floes of the northern polar regions and Emily Bronte’s lovers walked the moors after death. The gothic north is a place and a state of mind, a source of horror and the locale of untrammelled passions, a place beyond, a site of contestation, a dream.
The fourth Gothic Manchester festival featured the annual Twisted Tales event: this time around we welcomed Manchester Met alumni Andrew Michael Hurley to speak about his award winning debut novel The Loney. Our annual symposium explored all aspects of The Gothic North, including the ancient north, being and becoming northern, and it’s queer up the gothic north, and we ended the day with a screening of Ben Wheatley’s dark comedy Sightseers. We had two different ghostly walking tours of Manchester to look forward to before the festival closed with our annual Gothic Manchester pub quiz, which focused this year on the topic of Horrible and Ghostly (mostly) Manchester Histories.
Our diverse and rich programme explored the Gothic North in all its dimensions and with a wide range of free events every year the festival is sure to promise something for you.
Check out our storify for the fourth Gothic Manchester festival to catch up on all the action.
The Gothic Manchester Festival was once again reincarnated in October 2015. The festival included the one-day symposium What Lies Beneath. This year we turned to the Lovecraftian Gothic with an eclectic collection of entertaining, thought-provoking and occasionally downright disturbing events that shed light on the ‘weirdest’ side of Manchester!
The festival opened with a Gothic art exhibition entitled Crafting the Weird. We welcomed Weird fiction authors including the supremely talented M John Harrison in our annual Twisted Tales event, followed by ArA – a Goth club night in a church.
We witnessed mysterious games in the dark forgotten tunnels below the city streets and learnt how to hunt monsters ourselves with Cottonopolis Coglective. Authors and academics explored the horrific world that exists behind the surface of our lives at the What Lies Beneath one-day symposium.
We were delighted to house Hollywood horror legend and director Brian Yuzna to present a double bill of 80s horror films in collaboration with Grimm Up North. The Festival ended in our usual Gothic Manchester style with an esoteric pub quiz, this time all about the watery depths of the Lovecraftian mythos, and several squid ink cocktails, and we waved goodbye to our knitted Cthulhu horde.
Following the phenomenal success of the Gothic Manchester Festival 2013, which launched the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies, we returned with a new programme of events and activities designed to showcase MMU’s academic expertise in the gothic and foreground Manchester’s rich vein of gothic talent. Included in this festival of the macabre and fantastical were readings from authors working on the gothic dimensions of austerity politics, tours of the John Rylands Library and of the gothic splendours of the city and author Rosie Garland reading from both of her novels and discussing her alternative life as Goth icon Rosie Lugosi. As if this were not already a surfeit of transgressive pleasure, we also had a vampire-themed pub quiz, a phantasmagoric lantern display and film screening, and the local Steampunk community joined us for a day of retro-tech delights, including a costumed tour of the Museum of Science and Industry’s Steam Hall.
The Gothic Manchester Festival 2013 was convened by Dr Linnie Blake.
Dr Linnie Blake is Principal Lecturer in Film in the Department of English, Director of The Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies and Pathway Leader for the MA English Studies – The Gothic. Her work on literary, filmic and televisual texts ranges across genres, national cultures and historical periods. She has published widely on topics as various as seventeenth century Puritanism and zombie apocalypticism, Edgar Allan Poe and the Situationist International, Hillbilly Horror and Post 9/11 Republicanism, Japanese and Thai horror cinema and the contemporary Gothic box set. She is the author of The Wounds of Nations: Horror Cinema, Historical Trauma and National Identity (Manchester: MUP, 2008) and is working on a second monograph: Gothic Television in a Neoliberal Age as well as an edited collection – Neoliberal Gothic (for Manchester University Press) and a Contemporary Horror Reader (for Edinburgh University Press).
The Gothic Manchester Festival is a proud supporter of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, and we will be selling wristbands and providing information about alternative lifestyle and hate crime throughout our events.
October 2013 saw the launch of Manchester’s Centre for Gothic Studies – the first of its kind in England.
There were readings from Gothic writers, a ghost hunt at haunted Ordsall Hall, a tour of Monstrous Manchester, a zombie-themed pub-quiz, tours of architectural hotspots like the John Rylands library and the Town Hall, a lamp-lit walk through the Gothic highlights of the Manchester Art Gallery, creative writing workshops, a double-bill of horror at Cornerhouse and a series of academic papers and symposia. Manchester is teeming with gothic architecture, goth bands, gothic events and gothic experts, and has even been the setting of horror films such as The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (Jorge Grau, 1974). Gothic Manchester capitalised on these myriad cultural influences by bringing together a series of events dedicated to turning the city into a hub of gothic activity.