chapter  24
15 Pages

GOTHIC CULTURE

ByFred Botting

In a modern sense, however, ‘culture’ and ‘Gothic’ were strictly opposed, the one defined in terms of what the other lacked or negated: Enlightenment values of the eighteenth century (reason, virtue, moderation) emerged on the basis of their difference from Gothic darkness (passion, vice, excess), in a move from feudal savagery and landed property to bourgeois exchange and commerce (Botting 1999). The move imbricated ‘Gothic’ (as an invented amalgam of preEnlightenment forms) in the construction of new aesthetic and cultural hierarchies: Gothic ‘transgressions’ and ‘excesses’ redrew the limits of taste and acceptability; Gothic figures (monsters, vampires, ghosts, sexual deviants, criminals, foreigners) condensed (class, sexual, ethnic, colonial) anxieties and fantasies about those others occupying social, political and cultural margins.