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Language of the sacred: the nineteenth-century gothic novel and imaginative apologetics

Greenaway, Jonathan (2017) Language of the sacred: the nineteenth-century gothic novel and imaginative apologetics. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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This thesis offers imaginative apologetic readings of some of the key Gothic novels from the nineteenth century. It begins with a discussion of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) then moves on to Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, (1824) Jane Eyre, (1847) and Wuthering Heights (1847) before concluding with Dracula, (1899) The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll, and Mr Hyde (1886). The thesis argues that utilising theological readings of the Gothic is both necessary and productive, bringing to the fore aspects of the Gothic text that have, thus far, been marginalised or neglected by Gothic studies. Furthermore, this combination of the Gothic with imaginative theology establishes new ways in which Gothic literature may influence the wider field of theology, by bringing Gothic literature into the work of Imaginative Apologetics. The thesis argues that the Gothic nineteenth century novel, whilst rooted in particular social and historical circumstances, possesses substantial theological content. Throughout the readings provided, theological revelation is revealed in striking new ways as the Gothic novel shows itself to be not only influenced by theology, but also theologically influential, speaking of God whilst removed from the strictures of orthodoxy and religious institutions. Taking seriously the idea that a generous God is at work in all places, the thesis argues that especially in the midst of Gothic horror, violence and the supernatural, God continues to speak and reveal Himself in strange and unexpected ways.

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