‘We live in Gothic times’ reflected the British author Angela Carter in 1974 – known for her book of transgressive fairytales The Bloody Chamber, amongst others – and now that reflection could appear even more apt. In an age of political instability, Trump in The White House and climate change, perhaps we are living in rather ‘Gothic Times’ ourselves: now the focus of the Gothic Manchester Festival Symposium 2019 and its Call For Papers.

Gothic Times

‘Gothic Times', organised by Dr Linnie Blake (Manchester Metropolitan University), not only aims to consider how the Gothic mode places the present moment under scrutiny, but how it has provided a highly engaged exploration of historic periods through time. After all, a range of Gothic culture through the centuries has offered both insight and critique on the era it was part of – from the novels and poetry of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, to more recent publications, film, television, games and groups.

A range of mediums will be the focus of the Gothic Manchester Festival Symposium 2019; with the annual festival itself (now in its seventh year) due to take place in October, organised by The Manchester Centre For Gothic Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University and Research in Arts and Humanities at Manchester Met (RAH!).

The symposium plays a key part in each edition of The Gothic Manchester Festival – Manchester after all recognised as a city of Gothic academic expertise, especially considering The Manchester Centre For Gothic Studies is one of the largest of its kind in the world. It involves a range of scholars contributing to the cutting-edge of Gothic research; including recent co-edited collections from Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes, a range of fascinating research from Dr Chloé Germaine BuckleyDr Dale Townshend whose innovative new book Gothic Antiquity explores the relationship between Gothic architecture and literature, the Academic Lead of HAUNT Manchester Dr Matt Foley who authored Haunting ModernimsDr Sorcha Ní Fhlainn who has unleashed a book encountering Postmodern Vampires and popular culture, plus many more. There is also an upcoming Thomas Ligotti weird fiction Symposium, a Gothic 1980s Symposium and 'Absent Presences': a conference aiming to shift the core and peripheries of the Gothic mode - all organised either by members of the centre or students working with it.

The Manchester Centre Linnie Blake for Gothic Studies also significantly hosted the IGA 2018, as The International Gothic Association came to have its annual conference in Manchester last year, leading into the Gothic Manchester Festival 2018. In turn, the focus of ‘Gothic Times’ for 2019’s Festival Symposium highlights Manchester’s ongoing ambition to lead the way in the exploration of the contemporary relevance of The Gothic.

According to Symposium organiser Dr Linnie Blake (pictured left), who is the head of The Manchester Centre For Gothic Studies:

'This year's Festival theme is 'Gothic Times', one chosen to reflect the fact that the Gothic is at its most powerful (and most popular) when the world is at its most unstable. The Gothic gives voice to those marginalised and silenced in the real world and illustrates how it is often those in positions of power who are the most monstrous. We live, in other words, in 'Gothic Times' and Gothic literature, film, games, music and graphic novels offer us a way of making sense of it. '

The Call For Papers, which is open until the 30th July, is inviting twenty-minute papers which should be accessible to a non-specialist audience. These are welcome to focus on any aspects of Gothic culture as long as ‘Gothic Times’ is considered: including literature, film, television, music, graphic novels, games, Goth subcultures, etc. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

◾The Gothic and History / Gothic Histories

◾The Gothic as social and political critique

◾Gothic narratives in (and out of) time

◾Gothic temporalities – time in the Gothic text

◾Gothic of the present moment: Trump and Brexit

◾Projecting the Future – Gothic/SF fusions

Abstracts of 150 words are to be sent to Dr Linnie Blake by July 30th 2019 (Email: l.blake@mmu.ac.uk).