contemporary gothic

Dr. Williams is the Editor of The Gothic (MIT Press/Whitechapel, 2007), an anthology which looks at defining the contemporary Gothic vision through themes and images in contemporary art. She has written widely on contemporary Gothic and affiliated themes including ruins, horror film and the vanitas, and has lectured widely on defining the Gothic in contemporary art and visual culture. 

‘Gilda Williams’ desire to make Gothic a tenable critical term is ambitious, but through this anthology she has certainly laid the ground work … a lot of thought has gone into the selection and arrangement of these disembodied texts.’ The Art Book, Feb 2009

‘A useful and engaging collection’. — Popmatters, Dec 2007

The Gothic, book contents

How Deep is Your Goth – Gothic Art in the Contemporary‘, introduction to The Gothic, Gilda Williams


1. Thematic Framework

Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, 1757

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, 1818

Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher, 1839

Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde, 1886

Anne Williams, Art of Darkness: A Poetics of Gothic, 1995

Mark Edmundson, Nightmare on Main Street: Angels, Sadomasochism and the Culture of Gothic, 1997


2. This Year’s Goth: A Short History of the Gothic in Contemporary Art

Mike Kelley, ‘Urban Gothic’, 1985

Christoph Grünenberg, Gothic: Transmutations of Horror in Late Twentieth-Century Art, 1997

Michael Cohen, ‘The New Gothic: Scary Monsters and Super Creeps’, 2003

Jerry Saltz, ‘Modern Gothic’, 2004

Shamim M. Momin, ‘Beneath the Remains: What Magic in Myth?’, 2004

Marina Warner, ‘Insubstantial Pageants’, 2006

Gianni Jetzer, ‘Vanitas and Lifestyle: A relaxation on our relationship to the symbols of death’, 2006


3. Modern Gothic: Death, Excess and Terror

Jean Baudrillard, The Transparency of Evil, 1990

Judith Halberstam, Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters, 1995

Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire, 1976

Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho, 1991

Trevor Fairbrother, ‘Skulls: on Andy Warhol’, 2004

Damien Hirst, ‘Skullduggery: on Steven Gregory’, 2005

Richard Davenport-Hines, Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin, 1998

Nike Bätzner, ‘Human Dignity Shall Be Palpable: on Teresa Margolles’, 2006

Alex Farquharson, ‘Different Strokes: on Richard Hawkins’, 2006


4.‘The Creature’: Alien Beings and Alien Bodies

Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 1975

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, The Coherence of Gothic Conventions, 1980

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, ‘Three Women’s Texts and a Critique of Imperialism’, 1983

Kobena Mercer, ‘Monster Metaphors. Notes on Michael Jackson’s Thriller’, 1986

Richard Dyer, ‘Children of the Night: Vampirism as Homosexuality, Homosexuality as Vampirism’, 1988

Andrew Ross, Strange Weather: Culture, Science and Technology in the Age of Limits, 1991

William Gibson, Neuromancer, 1984

Elizabeth Bronfen, ‘The Other Self of the Imagination: Cindy Sherman’s Hysterical Performance’, 1995

James Meyer, ‘The Macabre Museum: on Mark Dion, 1997


5. Transgressing Females and the Name of the Father

Jacques Lacan, ‘Seminar on The Purloined Letter’, 1972

Jacques Derrida, ‘The Purveyor of Truth’, 1975

Carol Clover, Men, Women and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film, 1992

Stephen King, Carrie, 1974

Slavoj Zizek, ‘Kant as Theoretician of Vampirism’, 1994

Jeff Wall, ‘Interview with Arielle Pelenc: on Vampire’s Picnic’, 1996

Beatriz Colomina, ‘The Architecture of Trauma: on Louise Bourgeois’, 1999

Amelia Jones, ‘Paul McCarthy’s Inside Out Body and the Desublimation of Masculinity’, 2000

Nancy Spector, ‘Only the Perverse Fantasy Can Save Us: on Matthew Barney’, 2002

Hal Foster, ‘American Gothic: on Robert Gober’, 2005

Bruce Hainley, ‘Teen Angle: On the Art of Sue de Beer’, 2004


6. The Uncanny: Doubles and Other Ghosts

Sigmund Freud, ‘The Uncanny’, 1919

Mike Kelley, ‘Playing with Dead Things: On the Uncanny, 2004

Patrick McGrath, ‘Hand of a Wanker’, 1988

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, ‘The Missing Voice: On Janet Cardiff’, 2001

Nancy Spector, ‘a.k.a.: On Douglas Gordon’, 2001

Stan Douglas, ‘Nu•tka•’, 1996

Mark Alice Durant and Jane D. Marsching, ‘Paul Pfeiffer’, 2006

7. Castles and Ruins

Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, 1982

Douglas Crimp, On the Museum’s Ruins, 1993

Kate Ferguson Ellis, The Contested Castle: Gothic Novels and the Subversion of Domestic Ideology, 1989

Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose, 1980

Jonathan Jones, ‘A House is Not a Home’, 2000

Jeff Wall, ‘Dan Graham’s Kammerspeil’, 1985

Anthony Vidler, ‘A Dark Space: On Rachel Whiteread’, 1995

Jonathan Jones, ‘Species of Spaces: On Mike Nelson’, 2000

Tacita Dean, ‘Palast’, 2004

Adrew O’Hagen, The Living Rooms: On Gregor Schneider’, 2004


Biographical Notes



anthology of texts on contemporary gothic, ruins, vanitas, horror film


‘Men Are Monsters!’: Gothic, Feminism, and the Story of Louise Bourgeois’, paper presented at the University of Bristol as part of the Autumn Art Lecture series, ‘Monsters’.


Shades of Modern Gothic, from the Victorians to the Surrealists in Victoriana: The Art of Revival – A Miscellany (ed. Sonia Solicari), Guildhall Gallery, London

‘Zombified Paint-Worshipping Backwards Idiots’*: A Parallel History of Painting and Women in Horror Film’, in Palace Projects, artist’s project by Darren Banks

 ‘Defining Gothic for Modern and Contemporary Art’, eds. Dale Townsend and Glennis Byron, Routledge.

‘Vanitas: The Transience of Earthly Pleasures’, All Visual Arts, 33 Portland Place, London.


I, Monster: Gothic Metaphor in the Making and Unmaking of Andy Warhol’, April , ‘The Gothic Imagination’ blog, University of Stirling


‘Doubling – Interview with Gregor Schneider’, Art Monthly, October

‘It Was What It Was – Modern Ruins’, Art Monthly, May (reprinted in Brian Dillon, ed., Ruins, Documents of Contemporary Art, MIT/Whitechapel) 


‘Gothic v. Gothick – On the Uncanny’s Campy Cousin’, Art Monthly, May


Working Girl turned Office Killer – Office Dressing and Gothic, If Looks Could Kill, ed. Marketa Uhlirova, Fashion in Film Festival, London, Koenig Books.


How Deep is Your Goth? – Gothic Art in the Contemporary‘, introduction to The Gothic, MIT/Whitechapel



Men are Monsters! Feminism, Gothic and the Story of Louise Bourgeois’, University of Bristol, Autumn Art Lecture series, ‘Monsters’


‘Haunted Time, Dark Vision: Defining the Gothic Aesthetic’, Summer, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London

‘Defining the Gothic Aesthetic in Contemporary Art’, Royal College of Art, London


‘Template of Terror: The Revival of the Gothic’, chair of two-day symposium on the contemporary Gothic with Lindsay Seers, Catherine Spooner, Fred Botting, Avril Horner, Paul Hodkinson, Jonathan Jones, ICA London


On Ruins’, Resonance FM

‘Louise Bourgeois: Modern Gothic’, ‘Women and Gothic’ conference, Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge University


‘Making Monsters: Gothic Themes and Processes in Contemporary Art’, University of Westminster

‘Monstrous Media/Spectral Subjects’, symposium organized by Fred Botting and Catherine Spooner with Marina Warner, Elisabeth Bronfen et al.

‘Subculture and Style’ symposium in conjunction with ‘Gothic: Dark Glamour’, paper on ‘Making Monsters: Gothic in Contemporary Art’, FIT museum, New York City, NY

‘Gothic in Contemporary Art’, guest lecturer, Art Institute of Bournemouth


‘Gothic in Contemporary Art’, guest lecturer, MA in Curating, Goldsmiths College, London

‘Cindy Sherman: Office Killer’, film presentation, Tate Modern, London

The Gothic’, keynote speaker, ‘Curating Contemporary Art’, Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds

‘The Gothic’, Royal College of Art, London


‘Louise Bourgeois: Modern Gothic’, gallery talk, Tate Modern, London

‘The Gothic’, Slade School of Art, London


‘Damien Hirst: Murderme Collection’, gallery talk, Serpentine Gallery, London

‘Poetry and Dream’, gallery talk, Tate Modern, London

‘Louise Bourgeois/Francis Bacon’, gallery talk, Tate Modern, London