University of Sheffield and Sheffield Gothic alum Kathleen Hudson has recently published the academic monograph Servants and the Gothic, 1764-1831: A half-told tale through the University of Wales Press. This monograph is now widely available through UWP and on Amazon.com. Students are also free to request copies of the book through their university library.
Servants and the Gothic provides readers with a comprehensive literary and historical basis for understanding servant characters and servant narratives in the early Gothic mode. It illuminates and examines the narrative performances and identities of servant characters within early Gothic novels, plays, and bluebooks covering the period from the publication of Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto in 1764 to the release of the 1831 edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus.
Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries servants were ‘othered’ figures whose voices had the potential to undermine socio-political and personal identity. This book recasts servant characters within the early Gothic mode as ‘narrators’ who verbally or non-verbally perform dialogue, moral insights, and folkloric or gossip-based stories. Servant narratives speak to broad social concerns as well as elements specific to the psychological, emotional, and historical preoccupations of the Gothic.
Whether your interest is in eighteenthcentury, nineteenth century, or contemporary Gothic, speaking and performing servants heavily impact our understanding of the Gothic mode. From the earliest novels to recent adaptations such as Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful” (2014-2016) or Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 (2017), class and gender-specific narratives have shaped our perceptions of Gothic storytelling and Gothic identity. Servant narrators destabilize social and domestic structures and modes of hegemonic empiricism, introducing alternative discourses and radically re-imagining the worlds and identities of other characters. Servants are thus hugely important to the progression of individual texts while also suggesting broader literary implications as an on-going interrogation of Gothic traditions and innovations.
Servants and the Gothic examines the development of servant narrative within the early Gothic mode, outlining the socio-historical and literary influences which defined the servant voice during the eighteenth century, as well as identifying and expanding upon the ways in which servant narratives contributed to each author’s unique goals. It defines servant narratives as a ‘performance’ of Gothic narrative, a self-conscious self-examination of the ways in which a Gothic narrative impacts literary, social, and personal identity. Scholars of all background are invited to consider this new contribution to Gothic research.
Servants and the Gothic, 1764-1831: A half-told tale is now available through https://www.uwp.co.uk/book/servants-and-the-gothic-1764-1831-hardback/