My thesis draws connections between today's network society and the workings of gothic literature in the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century. Just as our society is formed and affected by the flow of information, the eighteenth-century culture of sensibility was formed by the merging and flow of scientific "technology" (or new scientific discoveries) and societal norms and rules. Gothic literature was born out of this science-society network, and in many ways embodies the ruptures implicit in it. Although gothic literature is not a network in the same sense as informationalism and the culture of sensibility are, gothic literature works according to the logic of networks on both a microscopic and macroscopic level. These correlations between networks and the gothic potentially illuminate two of gothic literature's strange and signature qualities: the subversive nature of the gothic convention, as well as the incredible—and almost inexplicable, considering its libeled and unpopular reputation—staying power of the genre. In Chapter One, I compare the society of informationalism and the eighteenth-century society of sensibility in order to extrapolate a three-pronged logic of networks: networks are subversive, networks are exclusive, and networks are based on codes. In Chapter Two I trace this logic through eighteenth-century gothic conventions as they are portrayed in Ann Radcliffe's The Italian and Matthew Lewis's The Monk. This shows how the gothic, like network society, depends on the paradox of containing the ideology that it subverts. In Chapter Three I investigate this paradox on a macroscopic level by examining the connections between "tales of terror" in Blackwood's Magazine and gothic literature in both the pre-Romantic and Victorian literature. By both adopting and subverting the conventions of Radcliffean gothic, these tales are a key node in the web of the gothic stretching backwards to into the eighteenth century, forwards into the nineteenth century, and beyond.



College and Department

Humanities; English



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networks, gothic, Ann Radcliffe, Matthew Lewis, conventions, Blackwood's Magazine, Bronte, tales of terror