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Paper #2
"Genre Conventions: Recipe for a Gothic Novel"

LITR 319: "British Writers: Gothic Novel"

Lisa M. Wilson, SUNY Potsdam


Basic question:

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 Abbey).

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.

Published @ RC

August 2008