Use of setting in Gothic Literature

Lesson overview

In this lesson students will use Google Expeditions to explore historical buildings, used as settings in Gothic Literature. They will then use the features of Gothic Literature to create their own Gothic setting creating a scary, strange or mysterious atmosphere.

Learning outcomes
  • To distinguish the use of setting in Gothic Literature
  • Identify features of powerful, descriptive language
  • To apply our ideas to a specific location based on the ‘Historical Buildings in the UK’ Expedition
  • To write in the style of Gothic Literature

Expedition Prep Checklist:

Download the Google Expeditions App on all devices and select the expedition Historical Buildings in the UK.

Explore the expedition and locate points of interest.

Review the content in the Lesson resources section to update your knowledge and develop some teaching ideas.

Lesson steps
  1. Introduction (15 mins)
    Students write answers to the following questions independently; What is the importance of setting in Gothic Literature? What are the key features of setting in Gothic Literature? What themes / ideas / emotions should the use of setting create for the reader?

    Students discuss their answers in pairs. Lead a class discussion about the answers.
  2. Activity one (15 mins)
    Students read the extract(s) on Student Sheet found in the the Lesson resources section. Depending on the ability of the group you may wish to use one, several or all of the extracts. Students identify which features are described, any descriptions of light or colour, what powerful adjectives stand out and any emotions mentioned.

    Students work in groups of four (rotating person 1,2,3 and 4), using the extract(s), each group picks a quotation from the text that helps create a mysterious / supernatural setting, selects the key word in that quotation that helps us understand that it is mysterious, supernatural, etc., thinks of at least two words that they associate with that setting, creates a theory as to why the writer chose that word.
  3. Expedition (15 mins)
    Students remain in their groups. Teacher asks the following questions while students are on expedition: What features stand out? Which building seems the most ‘Gothic’? Who do you imagine lived in this building? How might the appearance of this building change at night? Students should record responses to these questions whilst on the Expedition.
  4. Activity two (15 mins)
    Students draw on the examples of descriptive writing they studied in the pre-expedition activity to turn their building / location into a Gothic setting.

    Students make a sketch of what they saw in their expedition then label it with Gothic descriptions to make the building seem scary, strange or mysterious. Students write an extended paragraph, describing their building in as much detail as possible in a Gothic style.
  5. Extension
    Students film a short horror movie scene in a Gothic setting. Students visit a Gothic style building or place.
    Students create a Gothic vocabulary list of powerful words and phrases from various sources to extend their knowledge of adjectives and nouns.
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