LT 342 - Exploring Gothic Ireland: Fact, Fiction and Film

The Irish imagination has long held a deep fascination with macabre stories of ghosts, changelings and other supernatural manifestations. It is a legacy that can be traced back to the mythology and folklore of pagan times, and in some cases—such as the legends of the Banshee and the Dullahan—have been maintained in wives’ tales and superstitions right through to the present day.

This course will explore the supernatural side of Irish fiction by tracing the origins of what is considered to be Irish “Gothic”—beginning with folkloric traditions, continuing on to the rise of vampire fiction in the nineteenth century, and finishing with more recent twentieth century works of fiction about of fairies, ghosts and hauntings. We will also read a selection of writings from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that depict Ireland as a country inhabited by fairies and supernatural beings, and articles that describe Dublin as a dark, dangerous place filled with ghosts and ghouls and acts of treachery. These images of the country, combined with Ireland’s deep-rooted superstitions, inspired the literary creations of Sheridan Le Fanu, planted the seeds of inspiration for Bram Stoker to compose his groundbreaking novel, Dracula, and helped to give rise to Oscar Wilde’s sinister and thought-provoking piece, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Finally, we will look at how these early works and superstitions influenced modern Irish writers and how these ideas have found their way into the medium of film.

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