|Professor Isabella van Elferen and Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes|
As part of the Humanities in Public Lectures series at MMU, in association with the Centre for Gothic Studies, Professor Isabella van Elferen from Kingston University, sought to address these issues and bring to light an area that is often solely and simply described as ‘dark’.
Dressed in a Bauhaus t-shirt and accompanied by iconic music from gothic bands Siouxsie and The Banshees, Isabella launched into her lecture by pointing out just how easily Gothic music and sound was reduced to stereotypical subcultural characteristics such as ‘gloomy, depressing and sinister’ when in fact it represented the ‘sounds of the uncanny.’
Moreover, Gothic music is often studied in the ‘narrow confines of subcultural Goth association’ and that Gothic music and sound could be expanded to include the study of a range of cultural texts. From the resonating sonic imagery created in Gothic literature, accompanying sound tracks in films, and even in Video Games such as Silent Hill and Amnesia: After Dark, the sonic landscape of the Gothic is a rich and largely unexplored realm.
‘Film and game music is almost subconsciously heard, it’s in the background to narrative and dialogue – it enters and disturbs our mind practically unnoticed… as Derrida noted, the nature of the spectre conflates our past, presents and futures. It distorts time. The nature of the music and sound portrayed in Gothic texts deconstructs the solidity of our being… as a product we become ontologically unstable and we ourselves become haunted.’
Closing her lecture, Professor van Elferen ended on a suitably uncanny note.
‘When all meaning is gone, we are left with an abyss, and that abyss exposes even greater fears we might feel.’
This event concluded the Contemporary Gothic element of the Humanities in Public open lecture series. More information about Humanities in Public can be found at their website http://www.hssr.mmu.ac.uk/hip/
For anyone with a taste for the uncanny the Centre for Gothic Studies run a series of competitions, events, conferences and courses. Details can be found at: http://www.hssr.mmu.ac.uk/gothicmmu/