Invisible castles and bodies in motion: insights from a corpus analysis of early Gothic fiction
My paper will present findings from an analysis of early Gothic fiction which uses both corpus methods and qualitative readings of Gothic prose fiction to explore the thematic preoccupations of the genre during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
My analysis uses two corpora, namely a corpus of early Gothic fiction and a larger purpose-built reference corpus of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century prose fiction. The smaller target corpus of early Gothic fiction includes classics of the genre from the first wave of Gothic writing that are still read today as well as texts that enjoyed popularity at the time of their publication but have faded into obscurity since, while C18P - the reference corpus - contains a broad selection of prose fiction writing.
I will give an overview of the findings from the keyword analysis of early Gothic fiction and discuss how the keywords can be used to draw conclusions about the key elements and ideas of early Gothic fiction. One aspect that is particularly interesting to me is the exploration of Gothic core elements with a view to the differences between existing perceptions of Gothic fiction in qualitative approaches and the quantitative findings of my study. I will therefore draw particular attention to those quantitative core features that diverge from what was expected initially, based on assumptions from existing qualitative work on early Gothic fiction, and thus give new emphases to discussions on Gothic fiction as a genre from a corpus perspective.