"Genre Conventions: Recipe for
a Gothic Novel"
LITR 319: "British Writers: Gothic Novel"
Lisa M. Wilson, SUNY Potsdam
Part A: Employing all of the primary source materials
we have read so far, create a "recipe" for a Gothic novel. You
may use Mary Alcock's poem, "A Receipt for Writing a Novel," as
inspiration for your own recipe (rpt. in Lonsdale, ed., Eighteenth-Century
Women Poets, 466-68):
Of love take first a due proportion-
It serves to keep the heart in motion:
Of jealousy a powerful zest,
Of all tormenting passions best;
Of horror mix a copious share,
And duels you must never spare;
Hysteric fits at least a score,
Or, if you find occasion, more (lines 9-17).
Part B: Then decide which of the ingredients in your "recipe" is
the most essential one and explain why you think it is most important.
Final essays should be six to ten pages of
text, not including list of works cited (at least 2,000 words).
- What elements must one always include to write an effective
Gothic novel? You might consider kinds of characters, plot devices, types of
settings, common themes or morals, points of view, narrative strategies,
implied readers, literary language & techniques, common cultural
assumptions, among other elements.
- Draw your examples of important elements from the Gothic novels themselves
(The Monk, Zofloya, Zastrozzi, St. Irvyne, Frankenstein, Sicilian
Romance) and from the various period commentaries
and critiques we've read on the novels themselves and on the genre as
a whole (period reviews of the novels, packet essays & poems, Northanger
General Essay Guidelines:
- Point to specific evidence and explain it fully.
- Use MLA format (heading, margins, citations & works cited, etc.)
- Without prior approval from me, DO NOT consult secondary sources to
construct your essay. (You may use such sources with permission, but
I will need to see them first).
- Follow the SUNY Potsdam Honor Code: Essays must be wholly your own
work and written in response to this assignment; be sure to cite sources
fully & accurately.