“I’m not the killing type…” Goth Lit Problems in the Big Bad World.

Featured image via lavah.deviantart.com

As I write this post, I feel like there should be ominous rumbles of thunder and banshee shrieks from the wind, yet I shall remain satisfied with the gentle purr of my psychotic black cat and Amanda Palmer on my current playlist. Now I don’t know about you, but the majority of people that inhabit this earth (sometimes I feel like we should be calling it earth-x) seem to be under some strange illusions and misconceptions regarding anyone, especially a young damsel, studying Gothic Literature. But hold up! Throw in that you’re studying Children’s Gothic Literature, and that you really really really have a passion for it…and it’s all strange looks and…wait,are you making the sign of the cross at me?katvampd

Then there are those that nod and listen as you prattle on about the transgressive abilities narrative structures like ‘Stranger Things’ offer the modern day adolescent. These people actually don’t do the whole eyes glazing over thing.


So that’s how it goes in the world of a Goth Lit student… we’re treated with the polite suspicion usually reserved for mental patients and serial killers. Did it ever occur to anyone that we may just be care bears with fangs???

Image via josephschmalke.com

Seriously, most of the time we’re pretty normal people.


Unfortunately the stigma attached to studies in Gothic Literature seem unwavering in its ignorance. The cherry on top of a very Burton-esque cake is that sometimes the prejudice comes from within the academic field. Like when peers get that haughty look and in a Regina George fashion tell you ‘we do serious work here, work that will actually get us published’…riiiiight…you’re about to see my Wednesday Addams impression girlfriend!


Gothic studies is currently breaking borders in literary criticism. Not only is the genre well suited to hybrid morphing, it has an uncanny ability to access those liminal spaces within society: spaces that allow the marginalized, the minority and those who are able to think outside the box a way of narrativizing their unique thoughts and ideas. Gothic hybrid forms are also suitable for mirroring the process of growing up, current socio-political traumas and conflicts, and a world that is rapidly moving towards a monstrous loss of self. The Gothic form thus allows us to ask ourselves profound questions concerning the nature of humanity, whether the ‘Other’ is really a villain, and perhaps most importantly, it teaches us about what happens when the boundaries we construct for ourselves disintegrate and shatter.

So you see… Goth Lit students are doing some pretty darn relevant and interesting things…

stranger things

So don’t hate us or ridicule us. So what if our pick-me-up-morning-theme-song is Amanda Palmer’s ‘The Killing Type’. So what if we sometimes identify with our inner Asgardian goddess when we’re having a bad day.


In other news, I’ve talked your ears off regarding what a major Neil Gaiman bookworm I am, and I am happy to say that quirky love of all things Gaiman is taking me across the ocean and to the land of tea and Shakespeare himself. My abstract for the International Gothic Association Conference 2018 was accepted, and I will be presenting my paper “Transformation and Children’s Gothic Fiction in a South African Context” at the Manchester Metropolitan University. Sometimes the West just needs to be reminded that witches, curses and malevolent forces are still very much a part of some cultures and countries. I insert myself into the debate of Children’s Gothic as serving a ‘reparative’ function within a fractured culture where political oppression has forced a large percentage of the country to cling to superstition and witchcraft in order to navigate their disordered lives and find a sense of agency (Ashforth 2005). I’ll be comparing Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book (2008) with South African writer Charlie Human’s Apocalypse Now Now (2013)…watch this space to see what I come up with as a voice for the ‘Rainbow Nation’.


As you can imagine, I’m beyond excited, to be surrounded by so many interesting minds, possibly attending a Gothic convention in the works as well, and yes I’m super nervous that so many prestigious academics that I’m currently using in my MA thesis will be within sniffing distance of me. Play it cool. Just play it cool.


Lots going on beyond the veil where I sit and type this post, but here are a few things that are currently keeping me bright eyed and bushy tailed on the imaginative brink of the creative world…

Currently reading: This might sound silly, seeing as though I read it just last year, but I’m rereading Daphne du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel in an attempt to gather the wisps of an idea I have regarding the relationship between obsession and identity. I’m focusing on Philip’s character in particular…but what I’m searching for precisely, I can’t yet be sure. I’m also nerding out hard on Gogol short stories at the moment. It’s currently part of the 2nd year curriculum for a course in Romanticism, but there’s so much for the goth-hearted to relish in his weird and wonderful sentences. I’m interested to see how my students interpret the texts and my wild-eyed enthusiasm for Gogol. That might be a post of its own soon.


Currently watching: Alias Grace. But of course. When I’ve watched enough episodes you can expect there shall be words…


I can tell you though…it is based on the Margaret Atwood novel of the same name. So you might want to add that to your future must-reads.

Currently contemplating: The recent Priscilla Frank (2018) article that’s been tearing up my twitter feed, regarding the ‘female muse’ and the men who feast on them. See What It’s Really Like To Be An Artist’s Muse , just in case you thought hungry vampiric predators were the stuff of ‘silly novels’ and Hollywood screens.



And if you don’t believe me about my morning theme song… here’s something to bide the time till my next post! 😉

Via AmandaPalmerVEVO on YouTube


Published by

Kamalini Govender

I'm that girl that looks badass in her black boots reading Gothic Psychoanalytic Lit but really just wants to pew pew pew with someone.

16 thoughts on ““I’m not the killing type…” Goth Lit Problems in the Big Bad World.”

  1. First of all, Wow! You write so perfectly well.
    I haven’t heard of goth lit until now. I mean I knew of the genre but didn’t know it was called so.
    All the best for your conference.

    Keep writing and take care. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alias Grace – I did not know about this series! I love Margaret Atwood! She has a fantastic short story collection I read last year called Stone Mattress. I highly recommend it – the stories sort of weave together and she brings an interesting spin to a dystopian future where the younger people have tired of the senior citizen people (sort of scared me about getting old).
    Thanks for the Amanda Palmer clip, I am always reading about her and Neil’s marriage I find it quite curious (especially when she reported being polyamorous, etc. I think if I were married to Neil I would just stick with him – ha!) 🙂
    Great to see you blogging again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooooh! I’m going to get my hands on Stone Mattress and let you know what I think. Sounds terrifying! Will the youth of today find us tiresome and in need of obliterating soon???… Really hope not! Yes, I agree…how could anyone want to be polyamorous with a man like Neil in their lives! Droooool! 😀 It’s great to be back in the blogging world. Looking forward to reading your posts dear! More ducklings please! 😛 Have an awesome day 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh how I have missed you and your perfectly written words. It was you who first inspired me to keep going and wanting to be a storyteller. My life is much more than just a story right now, and I’m so glad you are back. Can’t wait to hear about the conference. Sending fairy dust and sprinkles your way.


  4. I love your beautifully articulated argument for the relevance of Gothic Studies to “real world” issues. Really food for thought as I polish my IGA paper! I’m wondering what you meant about many people embracing superstition & witchcraft to feel agency etc. Do you mean through religion, as in Wicca et al? Or through literature/media? (Sorry haven’t read your source so thought I’d ask!)


    1. Hi Jere! Oooh! I’m super excited to be chatting to a fellow IGA presenter 🙂 What is your paper on, if I may ask? I feel a lot like Alice about to fall down the rabbit hole with this conference, as it’s my first international one, and I know absolutely no one. But that’s always part of the excitement and fun, right? 😉 The book I’m using in my paper is actually written by a foreigner who decided to immerse himself in the many cultures of Soweto in South Africa, where he realized how very much a belief in black magic, ancestors and witches still affect many cultures in the modern day world. It’s deeply rooted in everyday life and tends to be used to combat fear and mostly used out of fear here. There are people called ‘sangomas’ that are consulted to assist in such cases, and the ‘black magic market’ is very much in existence over here too. I hope to be able to put it into context when I present my paper…without scaring anyone 😛 The point of it all, is that it allows those in a marginalized position to embrace a sense of power, one that has been taken away from them due to politics and social conflict. For me, I’d like to point out the relevance that Gothic texts might instead offer for the younger generations, so that they may deal with/ understand socio-political issues through the medium of literature. Hope I explain this better in the presentation 😉 Thanks so much for reading my post!


  5. I’d be really interested to read some gothic stuff that wasn’t set in Victorian England… any recommendations for something gothic-exotic? P.s. I LOVED Alias Grace, it was way too short a series!!

    Liked by 1 person

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