Developing Gothic: Lessons in Advertising


While advertising and promoting the ‘Reimagining the Gothic’ project and public engagement event, we had to reconsider the images associated with the ‘Gothic’, and use them to illustrate the potential for developing research


Project by: Lauren Nixon, Kathleen Hudson, Mary Going, Danny Southward

Written by: Kathleen Hudson

Photo credits: Danny Southward, Kathleen Hudson

‘Reimagining the Gothic’ is a multi-media and interdisciplinary project conceived overseen by postgraduates in the University of Sheffield English Literature Department specializing in Gothic areas of study. We set out to organize and cultivate Gothic-related projects from a variety of academic areas and disciplines from numerous departments, studies in ‘The Gothic’ which tie into revitalizing, understanding, and ‘re-imagining’ Gothic studies.  Our goal was to promote the research efforts of the English Literature Department and other departments throughout the University, emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of Gothic studies.

We wished to make an active and comprehensive effort to reach out to students and faculty in other departments and at other institutions, and in doing so needed to find a way to translate and convey our concept of interdisciplinary and creative Gothic studies, and what such a project could mean to future research. Advertising the event thus became its own kind of creative project. At the University of Sheffield many of us Gothic students work primarily with early Gothic texts, classic tales of fainting heroines and creepy castles rather than contemporary horror. As such, we started out with a particular idea in mind about the ‘Gothic.’ However, we were also attempting to expand the possibilities of Gothic studies, and moreover to make the Gothic relevant to people in other areas and disciplines.

Lauren Nixon conceived this project partially as an extension of her other creative work, also displayed at the event.  In order to bridge the gap between not only different areas of Gothic study but also between disciplines and between academic and creative work, we’d have to create an advertisement which conveyed that sentiment. We thought that the best way to do this would be to play with the common clichés, objects, and personalities connected with Gothic studies and Gothic culture.

With Lauren as ‘The Gothic Heroine,’ a time-travelling 18th century woman, and Mary Going as a contemporary ‘Goth,’ we explored a bookshop (referencing the Gothic’s literary roots):

The old-school ‘Gothic Heroine’ reads a contemporary graphic novel while the modern ‘Goth’ catches up on some classic literature
Popular Gothic authors such as Edgar Allan Poe have gone through many adaptations and revisions over the years, suggesting the pervasiveness and enduing relevance of the genre
What to read next?  Sheffield Gothic would like to give a special thank you to Blackwells Bookstore for allowing us to invade their store


A local graveyard (suggesting the Gothic influences and aesthetic):

Gothic book-club taking place in a bit of local history
“It’s called Cradle of Filth, trust me, you’ll love it!”


Reading outside of St. George’s Church, Sheffield



And finally, a pub (a social area for students and locals):


While advertising and promoting the ‘Reimagining the Gothic’ project and public engagement event, we had to reconsider the images associated with the ‘Gothic’, and use them to illustrate the potential for developing research


Party like a Goth!


Lauren’s had a long day…


In choosing these locations and using these specific props and attitudes, we wanted to encourage those viewing the pictures in posters and pamphlets to consider the pervasiveness of Gothic culture and its impact on myriad areas both within and outside academia. We also wished to incorporate elements of the surreal and humorous.

Ultimately the project was meant to provide materials for advertising, but perhaps even more importantly it opened our eyes to the potential of creative Gothic and allowed us to expand our outreach beyond our personal research. It encouraged us to think critically about Gothic Studies in the ‘real world’ and allowed us to express ourselves in an innovative new way.  Plus we got a pretty great poster out of…

Reimagining the Gothic Poster