Gothic Visions: From the Visigoths to Post-Punk

As a descriptive term, “Gothic” is one of the most protean and elusive in the history of design and material culture, applied variously to architecture, decorative arts, novels, horror films, and youth subcultures, to say nothing of the historical period c. 1150 to 1500 in Europe that is sometimes called “The Gothic World.” None of these descriptors address the early Medieval peoples who inspired the term, although it was the subsequent distaste for the Visigoths and Ostrogoths that gave “Gothic” its associations with barbarism, evil, ignorance, and the supernatural. The “Gothic” has been applied to all manner of objects and images throughout two millennia, occasionally as a term of abuse, at other times a celebration and a mark of praise. It has even been regarded as the national style in each of France, Britain and Germany. What it means to be “Gothic” has the most intrinsic link to the manner in which Europeans conceived of the world surrounding them, and how they chose to define themselves. In many instances, the “Gothic” was a term used to break away from more common cultural trends such as Romanesque, Neoclassicism, or Pop. Thus, the aim of this course is to examine the sources of Gothic artifacts, and to trace the changing meanings associated with the style from the early medieval period to the youth subcultures of the twenty-first century. 3 credits. Based on research paper topic, this course can satisfy the pre-1800 requirement.