Gothic Talks

Historic image of the North range of Speke Hall

In 2018 we're launching an exciting partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University. Their lecturers have contributed to our Romance and Revival exhibition, helping to explore the Hall's Gothic past, and they will also be joining us for a fascinating series of evening talks.

Discover how Gothic spaces and places are explored in fiction, the creation of "fake" Gothic furniture, how the voices of ghosts and monsters resound through Gothic literature and how Harriet Becher Stowe's writings fit this genre.

All talks are priced at £15 and tickets include a delicious meal in the Home Farm restaurant before the lecture. You can purchase them via our Events page, or by clicking on the lecture titles below.

On Thursday 12 April Prof. Dale Townshend, Professor of Gothic Literature in the Centre for Gothic Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University, will be discussing "Towards a Poetics of Gothic Space". What does the notion of 'Gothic space' mean? To what extent is the representation of space in Gothic fiction and film distinctive, and in what ways does it challenge, unsettle and disorientate those who interact with it? This talk explores the representation of houses, dungeons, towers, hotels, inns, castles, abbeys and other architectural spaces in Gothic texts from the late eighteenth century to the present day.

On Tuesday 8 May Dr. Peter Lindfield, Early Career Research Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University, will look at "Creating Historic Interiors: Gothic and Elizabethan". Medieval furniture was in short supply in Georgian and Victorian Britain. Whilst some like Horace Walpole sought out pieces that they thought to be genuinely ancient for their historicist 'Romantic interiors', others made furniture appearing to be genuinely old. This lecture will explore the two types of 'fake' medieval furniture made in the nineteenth century as found at Speke Hall and other Victorian Gothic homes to create Gothic interiors.

On Thursday 7 June Dr. Matt Foley, Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Manchester Metropolitan University, will explore "Gothic Acoustics: Voice in the Gothic Romance and Beyond". Marking 200 years since Mary Shelley's creature first spoke in Frankenstein, this talk seeks to explore representations of the voice as an object of terror or horror in a range of Gothic literatures. We will read the disembodied laments of ghosts, the demonic cries of the possessed, and the monster's voice itself as being central to Gothic literature's signature soundscape: that is, its acoustic dimension.

On Thursday 5 July Dr. Eleanor Byrne, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Literature at Manchester Metropolitan University, will be talking about "In the footsteps of Harriet Beecher Stowe: Slavery and Gothic literature". In 1853 famous U.S. abolitionist and novelist, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe visited Britain, including a tour of Speke Hall where she met the housekeeper at that time who asked her to sign her own copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin. This talk will explore some of the links between some genres or styles of gothic fiction that emerge in America and explore some of the critical responses to Stowe's renowned and controversial novel.