A Grand Welcome to the Gothic Manchester Festival

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Words by Sophie Bannister

On Friday night, the Town Hall put its fabulously Gothic decor to good use as the venue for the Mayor’s official welcome to the Gothic Manchester Festival. A strictly invitation-only gala, the event involved speeches by Professor Berthold Schoene, Director of MMU’s Institute for Humanities and Social Science Research (IHSSR), Dr Linnie Blake and Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes, the festival co-ordinators, as well as the Lord Mayor himself.
Corresponding with the opening of the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies, the festival has been taking place all week at various sites across the city. It had been extremely well-received so far and plans are already underway to make the gothic celebration an annual occurence. Of the festival, Berthold said, ‘We want to show to the public what we get up to in the faculty research-wise, and why it matters to everybody’.

The atmosphere of the room was one of pride in all that has been achieved so far this week. Leading lecturers in Gothic Studies, such as David Punter, Dale Townshend, Justin Edwards, Maria Beville, Monica Germana, Tracy Fahey and Benjamin Brabon all joined in the celebration, mingling with MMU staff and other members of the public who have helped to make the festival such a success. Even the weather joined in – we were treated to a dark, wind-swept, drizzly night equalling any that may appear in Gothic films or novels.

The Lord Mayor believes that the Gothic Studies Centre is a brilliant initiative for the city, placing Manchester at the heart of some of the most important postgraduate literary research in the country. In his speech, he said, ‘Manchester is a city that is being transformed, in a comprehensive and dynamic way, into what we believe is the strongest performing research centre in the UK’. Of course, the festival can only help to strengthen this claim by bringing together some of the greatest Gothic minds in the country and allowing the public to venture deeper into the dark pits of Gothic Studies through its brilliantly insightful events. 
The festival has been a huge success; co-ordinator Xavier explained that they have aimed to create ‘something that would be meaningful to everyone involved. Something that would showcase the excellent work in the Gothic that is taking place at Manchester Metropolitan University’. Truly, it has achieved this and more. Looking around the room, people are beaming. When the project was still in the planning stages, nobody realised it would become so wide-spread and profound.

Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes and Dr Linnie Blake of MMU
To broaden your own knowledge of the Gothic, head over to the International Anthony Burgess Foundation today at 6pm for a brilliant literary event featuring gothic authors Ramsey Campbell, Conrad Williams and new talent Stephen McGeagh. This will be the final event of the Gothic Manchester Festival which, we hope, will return to haunt Manchester again next year.
Sophie Bannister is Co-chair of Manchester Metropolitan University’s English Society, where she is currently in her third year studying English Literature. She hopes to complete a Master’s degree after her time at MMU. You can view Sophie’s blog here and follow her on Twitter @SophieBan92 

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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