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Message from the Presidents

As we take up our post in 2013, we wish to thank our immediate predecessors Andrew Smith and William Hughes for four years of exceptional service. Under their leadership the International Gothic Association has become stronger and more visible than ever before, with a growing membership, flourishing journal, and string of successful conferences. Since the International Gothic Association’s origins in 1991, the academic study of Gothic has become firmly established, shifting from a niche concern within literary studies in Britain and America to a diverse interdisciplinary field extending its reach well beyond Anglophone nations. A prestigious upcoming season upon Gothic at the British Film Institute and an exhibition at the British Library indicate the strength of the discipline beyond the academy and its wide acknowledgement as a significant force within Western culture. Gothic Studies as a discipline is moving beyond its rebellious teenage years towards a maturity that is both graceful and cutting-edge.

Our predecessors’ period as presidents could be described as one of Gothic globalisation. Glennis Byron’s AHRC-funded network for the Global Gothic set the agenda for a new attention to Gothic beyond its traditional territories. IGA conferences at Lancaster, Heidelberg and Surrey featured participants from around thirty countries, demonstrating the truly international reach of the Association. A crucial context for this internationalisation is the role of electronic networks. As we take up our roles as co-presidents, academia is becoming an increasingly digital environment. From Twitter to, video conferencing to electronic archives, digital communications are an inescapable context of contemporary scholarship. As presidents, we wish to modernise the Association’s digital presence and use it to consolidate and build upon the global conversation already in progress.

The exhilarating expansion of Gothic scholarship is reflected in the association’s journal. Gothic Studies publishes an impressive range of scholarly articles upon the Gothic from the eighteenth century to the present day. It continues to flourish as the leading journal in our field of research, but it has been joined by a range of other journals – including The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies, Horror Studies, Studies in Gothic Fiction, Aeternum and Revenant. We view these journals less as competitors, more as kindred spirits. Their appearance, however, also raises the stakes, and we must rise to the challenge and continue to build upon our success. 

Our first challenge as presidents will be to finalise a location for the 2015 conference, details of which will be added to the website shortly. In the mid to long term, we hope to improve the Association’s presence on the web via social networking and a revamped website, and look to support smaller Gothic events around the globe. In the long term, we want to continue to build the Association’s membership and further extend its reach within North America and beyond the English-speaking world. While maintaining the Association’s traditional strengths in eighteenth and nineteenth century literary studies, we also want to acknowledge the importance of the contemporary and, in particular, the realm of film, television, fashion, music, art and popular culture in determining how we understand ‘Gothic’ today. For this reason we are particularly pleased to have been elected joint presidents, as our combined expertise enables us to represent the full historical range of Gothic Studies. Please do feel free to make contact with us if you have any queries or suggestions. Thank you, and if we have not yet met you, we look forward to making your acquaintance at a future IGA conference.

Catherine Spooner
Senior Lecturer in English
Department of English and Creative Writing
County College
Lancaster University
United Kingdom

Angela Wright
Senior Lecturer in Romantic Literature
School of English
Jessop West
The University of Sheffield
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA
United Kingdom


IGA Presidents 2013: Catherine Spooner (Lancaster University) and Angela Wright (University of Sheffield)

Executive Officer: Monica Germana (University of Westminster, U.K.)

Gothic Studies Editor: William Hughes (Bath Spa University, U.K.)

Assistant Editor: Emily Alder (Napier University, U.K)

Web Officer: Stuart Lindsay (Stirling University, U.K.)

The International Gothic Association unites teachers, scholars, students, artists, writers and performers from around the world who are interested in any aspect of gothic culture: fiction, drama, poetry, art, film, music, architecture, popular culture and technology. It promotes the study and dissemination of information on gothic culture from the mid eighteenth century to the contemporary moment. The only association of its kind, the IGA is the academic centre for people interested in an analysis of the gothic.

The Association holds an international conference every two years. Sponsored by host institutions from all over Europe and North America, the IGA has so far met in East Anglia, Stirling, Horace Walpole’s house at Strawberry Hill (where the literary gothic began…) and Liverpool in the U.K.; in Halifax, Vancouver and Montréal in Canada, Aix-en-Provence in France, Lancaster in the UK, and, most recently, in Heidelberg, Germany. The next IGA conference will be held at the University of Surrey in England, in August 2013. The Association provides financial help for postgraduates giving papers at the conference in the form of bursaries for which interested participants can compete. In addition, the IGA sponsors joint sessions with other academic organisations, such as BARS (British Society for the Study of Romanticism), NASSR (North American Society for Studies in Romanticism), ACCUTE (Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English) and ALA (American Literature Association).  Finally, small one-day conferences that have a significant gothic content can apply for assistance in underwriting the cost of the conference: successful applicants receive up to £100.