2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description

Gothic Constructions: Architecture and Literature


Fall 2012 and Winter 2013 quarters

Trevor Speller British literature , Anthony Tindill sustainable design
Fields of Study
aesthetics, architecture, cultural studies, history, literature and writing
Preparatory for studies or careers in
literary studies and architecture.

In 1748, Horace Walpole purchased an estate in London. Over the next thirty years he converted that estate into a Gothic castle and planned "ruins." In 1765, Walpole wrote The Castle of Otranto, a novel widely regarded as the first true work of Gothic fiction. In an age of reason, Walpole's focus on the supernatural, feudal ruins and high passion pulled a medieval past into the order of the day, transforming it to meet the desires of a modern public both in print and in stone. From its beginnings, Gothic fiction shared a common link and a common bond with architecture.

For generations before Walpole, the architecture of the Gothic period was the equivalent of history books and literature. Architectural historian Jonathan Glancey writes, "The Architecture of the great medieval Gothic cathedrals is one of the glories of European civilization. Here was an attempt to lift everyday life up to the heavens--to touch the face of God--using the highest stone vaults, the highest towers, the most glorious steeples permitted by contemporary technology...it led to some of the most inspiring and daring buildings of all time." Though not written in actual words, Gothic architecture is written in structural form and religious allegory.

We will ask ourselves:

  • What is the relationship between literature and architecture?
  • How are space and form delimited, described, and invested with meaning?
  • What roles does symbolism play in architecture? How does this relate to symbolism found in literature?
  • How does the built environment feature in writing?
  • What aspects of the built environment can be represented? What escapes representation?
  • How does one 'read' Gothic architecture? What is the structure of a Gothic novel/fiction?

We will investigate examples of Gothic literature and architecture in Europe and the Americas from the twelfth century to the present, as well as the history, theory and interrelationship of these artistic modes. Students will be asked to attend lectures and seminars, write papers, take examinations, and develop work in studio that may include drawing, model-building and writing. In addition, students will visit examples of Gothic architecture in concert with their readings.

Architectural texts may include: Believing and Seeing: The Art of Gothic Cathedrals by Roland Recht, The Construction of Gothic Cathedrals: The Study of Medieval Vault Erection by John Fichen, and Medieval Architecture (Oxford History of Art) by Nicola Coldstream. Fictional texts may include texts from the medieval period to the present, including The Castle of Otranto , The Monk, Vathek, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and stories by Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Angela Carter and Joyce Carol Oates.

Academic Website
Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Required Fees
$100 for studio supplies (fall); $900 (optional) in winter for a field trip to Washington, D.C. plus $50 (required) in winter for supplies and printing costs
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
November 30th, 2012 $50 required fee added for winter quarter.
November 27th, 2012 Students may join this program winter quarter with faculty signature.