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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. Her third book, Post-Millennial Gothic: Comedy, Romance and the Rise of Happy Gothic, will be published by Bloomsbury in 2017. She is currently working on a Gothic cultural history of the white dress and investigating the modern legacy of the Lancashire Witches. 

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 latest book is Post-Millennial Gothic: Comedy, Romance and the Rise of Happy Gothic, to be published by Bloomsbury in February 2017. The book was the outcome of a 9-month AHRC Research Fellowship and explores 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.

Catherine is also the author of Fashioning Gothic Bodies (Manchester University Press 2004), the first book to explore the relationship between Gothic and clothing from the late eighteenth century to the present day. Contemporary Gothic (Reaktion Books 2006) reflects her continuing interest in Gothic and material culture, tracing the spread of Gothic across the fields of contemporary literature, film, television, fashion, art, advertising and popular culture. 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, was published by Palgrave to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the iconic television series in 2015.

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 is currently working on two research projects. White Dress: A Gothic Cultural History explores the significance of this iconic garment in Gothic literature, film and fashion media from the late eighteenth century to the present. Occulted Histories: A Cultural Afterlife of the Lancashire Witches investigates modern representations of the seventeenth century Lancashire witch trials, examining the relationship of place, local and regional identity and folklore to Gothic texts set in the north of England, and the formation of a 'Gothic North'.

Finally, Catherine is one of the co-founders of Beyond Twilight, a collaborative project with Chloe Buckley that seeks to challenge the stereotypes surrounding Gothic fiction for young adults. An event bringing together authors, readers and scholars was held on 27 September 2013, and the project continues as a website and blog.

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.

  • Published

    Post-millennial gothic: comedy, romance and the rise of happy Gothic

    Spooner, C. 23/02/2017 London: Bloomsbury Academic. 213 p.

    Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

  • Published

    Virtual Gothic women

    Spooner, C. L. 2016 Women and the Gothic: an Edinburgh companion. Horner, A. & Zlosnik, S. (eds.). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, p. 199-213 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter (peer-reviewed)

  • Published

    Danielle Dax

    Spooner, C. L. 2016 Lost souls of horror and the gothic: fifty-four neglected authors, actors, artists and others. McCarthy, E. & Murphy, B. M. (eds.). McFarland & Co Inc, p. 63-67 5 p.

    Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter

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