Theology in the Early British and Irish Gothic, 1764–1832

Theology in the Early British and Irish Gothic, 1764–1832

By Holly Hirst

Anthem Studies in Gothic Literature

Theology in the Early British and Irish Gothic, 1764–1832 reassesses the relationship between contemporary theology and the Gothic. Investigating Gothic aesthetics, depictions of the supernatural and portrayals of religious organisations, it explores how the Gothic engages with contemporary theologies, both Dissenting and Anglican.

PDF, 250 Pages


September 2022

£25.00, $40.00

EPUB, 250 Pages


September 2022

£25.00, $40.00

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About This Book

Theology in the Early British and Irish Gothic, 1764–1832 seeks to explore the extent to which Early British Gothic writing, c.1760–1830, took distinctive shape in the particular theological and theo-political climate of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The project takes as its starting point the widely noted ‘anti-Catholicism’ of the Early British Gothic. While taking into account the existing work in this field, the thesis will move beyond a simplistic Protestant/Catholic binary found in works, such as Diane Long Hoeveler’s The Gothic Ideology (2014) and Maria Purves Gothic and Catholicism (2009), which investigate the Gothic as anti- or pro-Catholic respectively. The project also moves the almost exclusively Anglican focus of texts like Alison Millbank’s God and the Gothic (2018), instead placing the Gothic within the complex theo-political context of tolerance debates, focused not only on Anglican-Catholic relations but on the place and suppression of Protestant Dissent. Having established the contemporary context of a proliferation of Dissenting denominations, the lack of a unified Anglican positions, the rich field of theological debate in the period and the continuing importance of Christianity (in its various forms) as a lived religion in the period, the project seeks to investigate the way in which varied theologies underpin key tropes, aesthetics and debates within the Gothic.

Theology in the Early British and Irish Gothic, 1764–1832 seeks to explore works throughout the period of the efflorescence and decline of the Early British Gothic, mapping changing currents and trends in the theo-aesthetics of the genre and its depiction and engagement with various supernatural phenomena. It seeks to investigate not only major writers of the period, such as Ann Radcliffe and Matthew Lewis, but a selection of writers from different denominational backgrounds in order to investigate the ways in which contemporary theological debates can be traced across Gothic texts of the period and the ways in which different theological positions manifest in these texts. 


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Author Information

Holly Hirst completed her PhD in the theology of early British Gothic at Manchester Metropolitan University and currently works as an associate lecturer. She runs the online education project ‘Romancing the Gothic’.


Anthem Studies in Gothic Literature

Table of Contents

Introduction; Chapter 1: “Christ is not Divided”: Theologies of Toleration and the Depiction of the Catholic; Chapter 2: “Serve the Lord with Fear and Rejoicing”: Gothic Theologies of the Sublime; Chapter 3: “For Satan Himself is Transformed into an Angel of Light”: The Theo-Aesthetics of Demonic Depiction; Chapter 4: “Your Sons and Daughters will Prophesie”: Gothic Dreams; Chapter 5: “Test the Spirits”: Ghosts and Apparitions of the Gothic; Chapter 6: “If Ye Live After the Flesh, Ye Shall Die”: Embodied Immortality and Damnation; Conclusion.


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