BFI Gothic School

In late 2013 BFI will be running events, screenings, courses, study days and publishing learning resources online, in print, and with collaborating partners, all around the theme of the Gothic. We have three questions driving the programme:

  • Why does the Gothic endure, across forms, media, and centuries? It’s the genre that won’t die..
  • Why is the Gothic so associated with aspects of British identity and culture?
  • And why is the Gothic such a culturally marginal genre, in spite of its wide appeal?

Over 2013, BFI will be exploring these questions, in particular relation to British film, with teachers, academics, film-makers, students, and the general, cinema-going, vampire-loving, Gothic-dressing, public.

Find a Powerpoint we use to explain the programme below

BFI Gothic Programme

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Gothic TeachMeet presentations

Chris Waugh has kindly forwarded the presentations from the Gothic TeachMeet we held last week – all except Drew Buddie’s list of URLs, which didn’t open in an amenable format (Help, Drew!)

So here is Morlette’s Jekyll and Hyde Gothic TM

And Amy Keenan Gothic TM, (if you remember, she played Monster Mash to her group and looked at the lyrics as quintessential Gothic.. the song won’t play from this PPT, but you can find it in the usual places)

And Cathryn Heywood’s inspired comparison of  Jane Eyre and I Walked with a Zombie at C Heywood The Gothic

Enjoy, reflect, share!


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Zombies everywhere..

St. Elizabeth’s Primary School in Bethnal Green, London, run an after school ‘clip club’.  This term they made a film called Run, School, Run, which turned out to be.. a Zombie film!..

See how they create jeopardy using the battery life on the computer screen, and the effective cross-cutting between advancing Zombie and scared children.  Watch and comment on it at: the clip club


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Gothic teaser day

On Tuesday this week we tried out a couple of Gothic ideas in preparation for our Education plans supporting the BFI’s Autumn and Winter Gothic season.  First, a group of Year 7 English students from Kingsford Community School in Beckton came to watch The Innocents.  Fortunately, they had no idea that a 1961 black and white British film might completely freak them out, so they were in for a series of unpleasant and unsettling surprises.  They were ably set up in preparation for Gothic motifs, tropes, and techniques by BFI Education’s Dominika Widlak-Manka.  The Gothic is a staple of KS3 English teaching, and we’ll be promoting The Innocents, and 12 other films, as 13 key texts for Gothic study in the Autumn.

In the evening we brought a group of teachers together for a Gothic TeachMeet in the BFI Reuben Library.  TeachMeets are rigorously structured, occasionally gently riotous, social cum professional development sessions, run in the evening, enabling drink to be taken.  We partnered with LATE, the London English teachers’ group, and were facilitated by Chris Waugh, known online as Edutronic, and in the real world as the Head of English at London Nautical School, just behind BFI Southbank.

TeachMeets bring teachers together to present ideas in 2 or 6 minute slots, and this time we had Francis Gilbert on filming mock-murder scenes, Morlette Lindsay on filming Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Cathryn Heyward on the relationship between Jane Eyre and I Walked with a Zombie (a revelation!), Amy Keenan on low achievers and the Gothic, Michelle Cannon looking at primary school practice, and TeachMeet granddaddy Drew Buddieon a whole host of ICT approaches to Gothic teaching (have a look at Inkle).  George Macpherson told us about CinemaLive, an immersive Secret Cinema style idea he’s developing for schools.

Beyond introducing teachers to each other (and hello to the entire Art Dept from Cumberland School who turned up!) we were using the event to plan sessions for our LATE/BFI teachers’ conference, on 7 December.  We’ve now got a bunch of ideas to help us on our way…

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Media Mag and Gothic

We’re delighted to tell everyone that the English and Media Centre’s Media Magazine (for media students) will be theming its Autumn issue all Gothicky.  Jenny at EMC is looking for classroom practitioners, Goths, weekend vampires, to contribute to the issue – copy deadlines are over the summer.  We anticipate our TeachMeet presenters all wanting to contribute..


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BFI Gothic Press launch

On Thursday last week we launched the BFI Gothic programme, with caped presenter, Magic Lantern Phantasmagoria by Mervyn Heard, and panel conversation between Charlie Higson, League of Gentlemen’s Reece Sheersmith, Hammer starlet Madeleine Smith, and Jane Goldman who scripted The Woman in Black.

Look here for the BFI Gothic trailer, which offers teachers a bunch of motifs, narrative tropes, visual styles from across the genre..  BFI Gothic trailer

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Gothic School for Teachers

LATE Gothic

Not to be outdone, L.A.T.E. and the BFI are jumping on the Teachmeet bandwagon and are running a meeting in the style of a teachmeet to get this Gothic Teachers project off the ground.

The plan is to run the next Gothic Teachers meeting as a teachmeet – which, if you haven’t yet been to one, is a vibrant all-in sharing symposium or ‘un-conference’ where presentations are run by the delegates on a voluntary basis.

The format is that delegates sign up to present for 6 or 2 minutes – or simply to attend – and then the presentation order is decided on the night by random selection.

The Theme for this meeting is the Gothic as part of the L.A.T.E/BFI project directed at energising the teaching of this Genre through innovative integration of film in the English classroom.

The intention is that we will film the proceedings and make these available to the whole Gothic Teacher fraternity via this site and Teachmeet TV

If you’re keen to join in – all you have to do is sign up here:

Register for Gothic School Teachmeet

Presenters’ Page for Gothic School

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Gothic Sixth Form Conferences

At Newman University, Birmingham, I have been running conferences on the Gothic for A level students in the West Midlands. These are always well attended and teachers often make repeat visits, bring a new group of students along.
We explore the ways in which Gothic is defined traditionally, then look at how the form may (or may not) have changed over time, with a look at Vampires through the ages. We illustrate through literary texts and through popular texts, particularly films and TV adaptations.
My favourite moment is always the ripple of excitement that greets my first image featuring Blade, Edward Cullen, Stefan Salvatore … it’s a good hook into the discussions of Romanticism vs. Gothic!

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