Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Haunting Texts
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 10 x 2 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment First Essay Assignment  1 x 1500 word essay  25%
Semester Assessment Second Essay Assignment  1 x 3000 word essay  75%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit First Essay  1 x 1500 essay  Resubmit failed or missing essay  25%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit Second Essay  1 x 3000 word essay  Resubmit failed or missing essay  75%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Describe and appraise the main characteristics of the victorian and modern ghost story, both as an identifiable literary genre and as a varied tradition (from the mid-C19th to the early 20th century)

2. Consider and evaluate the arguments put forward by victorian and modern writers about the definition of the ghost story: its narrative techniques, its literary conventions, its creative possibilities.

3. Engage with theoretical and critical debates on the uncanny and the ghostly as problems of historical, cultural and literary interpretation.

4. Write about the subject in a well-structured and argued manner.

Brief description

Haunting Texts will introduce students to the ghost story as a distinct literary genre, one that emerges in the early nineteenth century and becomes a dominant literary form in Britain from around 1850 until the First World War. The emergence of the ghost story will be linked to specific historical conditions in the Victorian era - an expanding readership, magazine publication, scientific developments, the cultural displacement of religious tradition - and also to a corresponding set of debates amongst Victorian itellectuals and writers about the supernatural and its literary treatment. The module begins by exploring theoretical reflections on the supernatural in the late Gothic tradition exemplified by Radcliffe and Scott, before moving on to the Victorian ghost story proper (Le Fanu, Dickens, Collins, Edwards, Lee). The reading for each week includes critical and theoretical commentaries, allowing students to focus on various aspects of the ghost story - vision, gender, location, fantasy, the uncanny, colonialism. The transition from the Victorian to the modern ghost story is traced in the work of M R James, whose texts dramatize the encounter of academic culture with the uncanny; and another James, this time Henry - will be seen to make the apparition in 'The Jolly Corner' into a self-reflexive question of writing itself. A terrifying story by May Sinclair will next be explored in terms of its intertextual dimension. Ghost stories from the 20th century will be read alongside theoretical reflections on the uncanny dimension of modernity and colonialism, leading to an exploration of the ghostly dimension of theory itself, especially as manifested in psychoanalysis.

Average Student Workload:
Contact time 20.5 hours
Reading and preparation: 100 hours
Independent study preparing assignments 79.5 hours


This module combines close textual analysis, intellectual history and literary theory, covering a range of authors largely excluded from the existing syllabus for 19th century core modules.


Week 1 Introduction: Gothic Revenants
Anne Radcliffe, 'On the Supernatural in Poetry' (1826) [e-text];
Walter Scott, The Tapestried Chamber (1829) [OBEGS 1-12];
'On the Supernatural in Fictitious Composition' (1827) [e-text];
J. S. Le Fanu, An Account of Some strange Disturbances in Aungier Street (1853) [CGS 1-18]

Week 2 Victorian Phantoms
Charles Dickens, The Signalman (1866) [PBGS 91-104];
Wilkie Collins, Mrs Zant and the Ghost (1879) [CGS 30-58];
Julia Briggs, Nigh Visitors: the Rise and Fall of the English Ghost Story (1977);
Jill Matus, 'Trauma, Memory and Railway Disaster: the Dickensian Connection' (2001)

Week 3 Ghost Feelers
Edith Nesbit, Man-Size in Marble (1893) [OBEGS 125-36]
Vernon Lee, A Wicked Voice (1890 [OBEGS 87-108]
Mary Wilkins, The Lost Ghost (1903) [CGS 150-164]
Nick Freeman, 'E Nesbit's New Woman Gothic' [photocopy]

Week 4 Phantom or Phantasm?
Fitz-James O'Brien, What Was It? (1859) [PBGS 25-37]
Amelia B Edwards, the Phantom Coach (1864) [OBEGS 13-24] 'The New Pass (1873) [CGS, 74-85];
Edward Bulwer-Lytton, The Haunted and the Haunters: or, The House and the Brain (1859) [PBGS];
Srdan Smajic, 'The Trouble with Ghost-Seeing: Vision, Ideology and Genre in the Victorian Ghost Story' (2004)

Week 5 Uncanny Things
H G Wells, The red Room (1896), [OBEGS, 172-9];
Algernon Blackwood, The Empty House (1906), [OBEGS, 222-35];
Ralph Cram, In Kropfsberg Keep (1895) [CGS 141-9];
W W Jacobs, The Monkey's Paw (1902) [PBGS 231-42]
Sigmund Freud, 'The Uncanny' (1919)

Week 6 Ghosts and Scholars
M R James, 'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad' (1904) [PBGS 261-80];
The Mezzotint (1904) [photocopy];
Ralph Harrington, 'So jarred were all my nerves: supernatural shock and traumatic terror in the ghost stories of M R James' [photocopy]


Week 8 Ghosts of the Self
Henry James, the Jolly corner (1908) [PBGS 291-325]
Martha Banta, 'Henry James and 'The Others' [photocopy]

Week 9 Intertextual Haunting
May Sinclair, the Intercessor (1911)
H D Everett, The Next Heir (1920)
Richard Bleiler, 'May Sinclair's Supernatural Fiction'

Week 10 Modern Domestic Ghosts
A M Burrage, Smee (1931) [OBEGS, 377-86]
Elizabeth Bowen, Hand in Glove (1952) [OBEGS 444-52]
D K Broster, The Pestering (1932)
A S Byatt, The July Ghost (1987)

Week 11 Imperial Spectres
W Somerset Maugham, The Taipan (1922) [OBEGS, 283-8]
L P Hartley, A Visitor from Down Under (1926) [OBEGS, 307-21] plus
Module Summary and reflection with group discussion

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Written communication in the form of essays, oral communication in seminar discussion and group presentations.
Improving own Learning and Performance Developing own research skills, managment of time, expression and use of language.
Information Technology Use of electronic resources (JSTOR, websites); use of databases of digitized newspapers and periodicals; the production of written work.
Personal Development and Career planning By critical reflection and the development of transfeerable communication skills.
Problem solving Formulating and developing extended arguments
Research skills By relating literary texts to historical contexts and theoretical commentaries, and by synthesizing various perspectives in an evaluative argument.
Subject Specific Skills Detailed critical and contextual analysis of literary texts and evaluation of the theoretical concepts.
Team work Through group presentations in seminars - this will involve preparation outside of class and team work within the seminar.


This module is at CQFW Level 6