Introduction to Gothic Literature in Geography


Introduction to Gothic Literature in Geography

Gothic literature, a literary genre characterized by a dark and eerie atmosphere, has often been associated with fiction and film. However, its influence can also be found in the realm of geography. In this article, we will explore the origins and features of gothic literature and how it has permeated the field of geography.

Origin and Features of Gothic Literature

Gothic literature emerged in the late 18th century as a response to the Enlightenment, a period of scientific advancement and rational thinking. It rejected the idea of a rational and ordered world, instead favoring an exploration of irrational and supernatural elements. Gothic literature often features ominous settings, mystery, and horror, as well as an exploration of the darker side of human nature.

One of the most prominent features of gothic literature is its setting. Often, gothic works take place in a decaying or abandoned location, such as a castle or a haunted house. These settings evoke a sense of isolation and foreboding, highlighting the characters’ psychological reactions to their environment.

Another key element of gothic literature is the presence of supernatural or unexplained occurrences. These can include ghosts, monsters, and other unexplainable phenomena. The inclusion of these supernatural elements adds an eerie and macabre atmosphere to the story, heightening tension and suspense for the reader.

Gothic Literature in Geography

In geography, the use of gothic elements can be seen in various disciplines, such as landscape studies, urban planning, and cultural geography.

One example of gothic literature influencing geography is found in landscape studies, where scholars examine the cultural and social meanings attached to specific landscapes. Gothic literature often features ominous and threatening landscapes, which can be interpreted as symbolic representations of societal fears and anxieties. This approach has been used to analyze gothic landscapes, such as the moors in Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights,” to better understand the author’s intentions and the historical context in which the work was written.

Additionally, in the field of urban planning, gothic literature has been used to analyze the impact of abandoned and derelict structures on urban landscapes. The use of gothic elements, such as decay and isolation, aligns with the concept of “ruinscape,” which refers to abandoned and neglected structures in urban environments. By applying a gothic lens to the study of ruin, urban planners gain a deeper understanding of how abandoned structures can shape the cultural landscape of a city.

Cultural geography, which examines how humans interact with and shape their environment, has also been influenced by gothic literature. The exploration of the darker side of human nature in gothic works has been used to analyze the power dynamics and social hierarchies within a particular cultural landscape. For example, Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” has been used to examine the influence of wealth and social status on the built environment.


In conclusion, gothic literature, with its focus on eerie and macabre elements, has left a significant mark on geography. Its influence can be seen in the analysis of landscapes, urban planning, and cultural geography. By applying a gothic lens, geographers gain a deeper understanding of the significance of our surroundings and the ways in which they shape our experiences and perceptions. As the field of geography continues to evolve, it is essential to recognize the lasting impact of gothic literature on the discipline.