Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination

Ever wanted to see a victorian vampire slaying kit up close?  Or maybe you’re more interested in the alleged writings of Jack the Ripper? Well, up until the 27th of January 2015 the British Library is hosting a special exhibition on “Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination”. If you’re interested in vampires, creepy stories and the way that the gothic has penetrated culture throughout the years, it’s definitely worth a look!

Despite having studied Gothic Literature in depth at university, and having prior knowledge of a lot of the texts and discussion points raised during the exhibition, I still found lots to get my teeth stuck into [all puns intended!]. Featuring mixed media exhibitions with hand written scripts of horror movies, manuscripts of famous texts, video interviews with prominent authors such as Neil Gaiman, and written discussion of famous gothic classics, there is an awful lot to see and immerse yourself in. The fantastic dark black curtains hanging eerily, separating the sections are also a fantastic addition to the uncanny atmosphere, just don’t let them creep you out too much!

Spanning a huge time period, the exhibition stretches all the way from The Castle of Otranto (1765) to modern day texts such as Coraline, and yes, the Twilight series! At the end of the exhibition there was even a little section on Goth culture too. Personally, I found it interesting to see how the later displays interlinked pop/punk culture with the Gothic via ideas regarding politics and cultural change, and as a sort of backlash against “the man” or the establishment.

The photographs just before the exit were probably one of my favourite parts of the exhibition. Not only did they capture a fantastic goth gathering in Whitby, but they were also portraying fashion, and art. They showed how just as a lot of classic texts were symptomatic of there time, depicting fears of illness and playing God, people of today are reacting to modern culture and society too. People are always finding ways to express their frustrations, fears, and individuality. Thankfully, we have a lot more ways to express ourselves today than people did in 1765, and a lot more mediums to capture these expressions with too.

I’d definitely recommend this exhibition to anyone that’s interested in Gothic Literature and how a lot of films and modern day culture has been influenced by these early texts. Prices for exhibition tickets are £10.00, but discounts and exemptions do apply.

For more information about the exhibition or to book tickets, please click here.