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Dr Catherine Spooner

Reader in Literature and Culture

Catherine Spooner

Lancaster University

County College



Tel: +44 1524 594876

Research overview

Catherine Spooner specialises in Gothic literature and culture from the nineteenth century to the present. Her first book, Fashioning Gothic Bodies, examined the relationship between Gothic literature and dress from the French Revolution to Goth subculture. This was followed by Contemporary Gothic, an exploration of contemporary uses of Gothic in literature, film, television, fashion, art and consumer culture. She is currently working on an AHRC-funded research project entitled Post-Millennial Gothic: Comedy, Romance and the Rise of Happy Gothic, to be published by Bloomsbury in 2017.

PhD supervision

Catherine has previously supervised nine Ph.Ds to completion on the following topics:
- Monstrous fathers in contemporary film and fiction (with Sociology);
- Literature of the 1984-5 miners' strike;
- The mutilated body and affect in Gothic drama and film;
- Violent masculinities in contemporary Gothic fiction;
- The language of transformation in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (with Linguistics);
- Catholicism, transnationalism and the Gothic;
- Folk devils in contemporary American Gothic and crime fiction.
- Dandies in cult television, 1960s-present;
- Gothic in contemporary children's fiction.

She currently has eight Ph.D students working on the following topics:
- New media technologies and hauntings;
- Young adult Gothic femininities and contemporary fairy tales;
- Grunge music and the grotesque;
- Turkish Gothic;
- Adaptations of Lovecraft in film and popular culture;
- Penny Dreadfuls and commodity culture;
- Gothic and plastic surgery;
- Gothic and celebrity.

Catherine also runs the Contemporary Gothic Reading Group, which meets once a fortnight to discuss texts chosen by the participants and is open to all postgraduates and staff across the university. She welcomes Ph.D applications related to any aspect of Gothic literature and culture, or to literature and fashion, and is happy to consider interdisciplinary proposals.

Research Interests

Catherine Spooner's particular research interests incorporate Gothic literature, film, and popular culture, and fashion and dress in literature, within the broader spectrum of Victorian and contemporary literature and culture.

Catherine's first book, Fashioning Gothic Bodies, published in 2004 by Manchester University Press, explores the relationship between fashion discourses and constructions of the body in Gothic texts, from the French Revolution to contemporary Goth subculture. It examines the ways in which the bodies represented in Gothic novels and films are influenced by historically specific debates about clothing, from the flimsily-attired heroines of the late eighteenth century, through the lunatics and dandies of the nineteenth century, to the Goths of the late twentieth century.

Her second book, Contemporary Gothic (Reaktion 2006), reflects her continuing interest in the relationship between Gothic and material culture. With discussion ranging from the significance of Gothic images in advertising to the exploitation of Goth style in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it investigates in a variety of twenty-first century contexts what it means to go 'Gothic Shopping'. Click here for a review of Contemporary Gothic in Art Review, and here for a review in Cultural Sociology. Contemporary Gothic was translated into Korean in 2008.

Catherine has co-edited three books: The Routledge Companion to Gothic, a collection of 26 essays by some of the major researchers in the field, co-edited with Emma McEvoy of the University of Westminster, was published in 2007. Monstrous Media/Spectral Subjects: Imaging the Gothic from the Nineteenth Century to the Present, was inspired by the Ninth Biennial Conference of the International Gothic Association, 'Monstrous Media/Spectral Subjects', July 21-24 2009, which she co-organised with Professor Fred Botting. Finally, Return to Twin Peaks: New Approaches to Materiality, Theory and Genre on Television, co-edited with Jeffrey A. Weinstock, is being published by Palgrave to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the iconic television series in 2015.

Catherine is currently completing an AHRC-funded project entitled Post-Millennial Gothic: Comedy, Romance and the Rise of Happy Gothic, to be published by Bloomsbury in 2017. The book will explore such phenomena as the perennial revival of Gothic style on the high street, the advent of the sparkly vampire, and Gothic tourism in Whitby, in relation to developments in twenty-first century subcultures. Arising from this research, Catherine's interest in Gothic fiction for young adults resulted in the public engagement project Beyond Twilight, co-organised with PhD student Chloe Buckley. An event bringing together authors, readers and scholars was held on 27 September 2013, and the project continues as a website and blog.

Catherine has recently contributed to the volumes accompanying three major exhibitions: Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film at the British Film Institute; Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination at the British Library and Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Catherine's next project will explore the Gothic North, examining the relationship of place, local and regional identity and folklore to Gothic texts set in the north of England, with particular focus on the legacy of the 'Lancashire witches'.

Catherine is currently co-president of the International Gothic Association.

Read Catherine's blogs on The Conversation and follow her on Twitter.

Current Teaching

Catherine teaches widely across the fields of Victorian, twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature within the department. She currently convenes the third-year half-unit 'Victorian Gothic' and the MA module 'Contemporary Gothic: Text and Screen'.

Additional Information

Career details

Catherine completed her BA at the University of Oxford, and her MA and Ph.D at Goldsmiths College, the University of London. She has previously worked part-time at Goldsmiths College, and full-time at Falmouth University and the University of Reading, before coming to Lancaster in 2004.

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