Podcast series Oz Gothic breathes new life into Australian gothic storytelling

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Abstract

The gothic developed as a European architectural phenomenon in 12th-century France, where awe-inspiring cathedrals reflected a world drenched in religious piety and superstition.

Its veneration was revisited in 18th-century English literature, when writers sought to inspire a comparable sense of wonder by setting scenes in ruined abbeys, haunted castles and spectacular natural landscapes.

Books like Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto (1764), Ann Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) appealed to a wide readership, but were dismissed as superficial sensationalism by the literary establishment.

The Australian gothic is unique from its northern counterparts. Instead of grand churches and castles, Australian writers dramatised remote towns, evoking a deep sense of malevolence operating beneath the veneer of ordinary life.

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