Gothic Motherhood

  • Russell, D. E. (Organiser)
  • Marilyn Francus (Invited speaker)
  • Dara Regaignon (Invited speaker)
  • Virlana Shchuka (Invited speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventSeminar/workshop/course


Motherhood in the Gothic is a fraught affair. In the words of Ruth Anolik, “no woman is in greater peril in the world of the Gothic than the mother.” With maternal types ranging from the missing to the monstrous, mothers often function as focal points for gendered anxieties in Gothic texts. Such figures can unsettle assumptions about ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ behaviour, investigate extremes of sympathetic emotion, and raise questions about what women bequeath to their children. In the hands of women writers, Gothic texts also explore the complex experiences of motherhood, including the terror of one’s own pregnant body, or what Julie Kipp has called the “radical physical and spiritual dislocation” of the self made other.

The intertwining of the maternal and authorial imagination is most famously evoked in Mary Shelley’s description of Frankenstein as her “hideous progeny”. This seminar traced that relationship back to the writing of Shelley’s own mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, and beyond, examining how Romantic-period women wrote Gothic motherhood.
Period25 Apr 2022
Event typeSeminar
Degree of RecognitionInternational