The Plasmatic Writer

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Author . Poet . Horror Writer . Authorpreneur 

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What Is Urban Gothic?

Posted on January 14, 2019 at 4:50 PM

Gothic. Chances are you know what it is and can define what it is in some way. Urban Gothic? Well, not many people know what urban gothic is so that's what this article is about. It will explain to you what urban gothic is and give you a general idea of examples of what truly defines it. First off, Urban Gothic is a subgenre of gothic that deals with industrial and post-industrial urban society. The term was first coined in the 19th century in Britain as well as Ireland and the U.S. Urban gothic is a part of film and television as well as literature where it originally was seen. Early on there was a boost in gothic literature and other classic types of genres this is what started to make gothic novels more popular and a genre slowly on the rise. Urban Gothic tends to be an idea that deals with the generalizations of the regular definition of gothic; dark themes and elements with a classy and elegant representation. It usually deals with the descriptions of dark, dreary and vivid backgrounds of a lively yet at the same time lonely setting. Settings of rural locations where horror meets danger and adventurous levels. It's also known to put people in horror situations such as paranormal and supernatural creating for an overall dark feel and eerie look.


Some early examples of Urban Gothic are Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), and Irish novels such as Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), and Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897). One thing you can immediately see is that all these books share common themes. They are all set in Britain, are gothic literature and also have that element of the unknown where the setting and the people are dark, mysterious and yet are strange and profound. It's these books that are the real first known case of urban gothic and are absolute classics. These novels, as well as the genre itself, helped to create two more branches in the gothic genre, southern gothic and suburban gothic. In many ways, urban gothic is sort of the indie of gothic's, it is a subgenre of Gothic but has enough in its own right to stand on its own. Frankenstein, some of Edgar Allan Poe's works as well as other well-known authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne have works that are in some ways considered to be Urban Gothic. Another fine and classic example is Phantom of the Opera that does a lovely job of blending class and horror together to create a strong vivid gothic story of romanticism.


Modern gothic has helped the sub-genres, like urban gothic for a smooth transition so that they keep what makes the genre unique but at the same time adding a modern twist or flare. Some examples of modern day urban and suburban gothic are Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, several of graphic novelist Frank Miller's books such as Batman and Sin City and the film, The Crow. Again like the books described earlier, these books and films all have something in common. The dark setting that's dark yet engaging and simplistic giving off that mystery element within an industrial rural location coated in a classic blend of horror and classical gothic.


New Orleans is quite the city so despite being loud at times there's also a certain prestige to the city making it a place where vampires tend to dwell in literature and making it a perfect location of Urban Gothic. Nothing says urban gothic quite like the dark foggy yet strangely alluring streets and alleys of New Orleans. Also, take a look at Sin City, it's a dirty and dangerous place yet has that mantra of urban gothic with it's industrial and rural setting. The modern adaptation and take of urban gothic shows that the genre can be enjoyed by those who enjoy classic and modern gothic literature and cinema.


So that's what Urban Gothic is. Chances are by now that you've realized that you not only have known what it is but you enjoy and have read and seen what urban gothic is whether it's from a classic or modern sense. It's a subgenre that helps the flow of gothic within dangerous yet classy situations. It's the taboo of gothic, it's a representation of how shadows get lonely sometimes and most of all it's still being written and made into movies today. So the next time your at your local library or in the mood for a gothic film but you still want that current feel, look into Urban Gothic, it will not disappoint you.

For images on Urban Gothic check out my Urban Gothic board on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/justinbienvenue/urban-gothic/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">https://www.pinterest.com/justinbienvenue/urban-gothic/

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Categories: Horror

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