Australian Gothic: from Hanging Rock to Nick Cave and Kylie, this genre explores our dark side

The Conversation Gothic imageThe ‘gothic’ genre was once thought to be inapplicable to Australia. But there is a strong gothic tradition in Australian literature and film, seen in examples like Picnic at Hanging Rock. IMDB

Emma Doolan, Southern Cross University

In the popular imagination, the term “Gothic” evokes images of grim, crumbling castles, wild moors, jagged mountain peaks, and coffins creaking open in labyrinthine underground crypts.

Populating this Gothic terrain are bloodsucking (or, more recently, sparkling) vampires, howling werewolves, ghostly apparitions, black-browed villains, and virginal maidens (usually with great hair) fleeing persecution and imprisonment.

Gothic novels, films, and other texts explore the terrors of the unseen, or the half-seen – the repressed matter that threatens to return. Its plots turn on uncertainty and anxiety, sexual danger and desire, inheritance and usurpation, and boundaries and their transgression.

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