‘Thought-provoking and downright disturbing’: Gothic Manchester Festival returns

The annual Gothic Manchester Festival will return for another weird and wonderful outing this October.

The festival, a celebration for those who are interested in the dark side, is run by the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies at MMU.

Now in its third year the event will stretch across the end of October and will include exhibitions, readings, a Goth club night and film showings.

Dr Linnie Blake, Head of the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies, said: “The festival is indeed a celebration – of our own academic expertise in the gothic and of the extraordinary enthusiasm of Mancunian people for the dark side.

“We have been astonished and delighted over the course of the past two festivals at just how much knowledge and expertise there is out there and just how many people from all walks of life share our interests.

“The festival allows those inside and outside the university to meet as fellow enthusiasts and to introduce each other to our own way of thinking about and enjoying gothic texts.

“It’s a genuine exchange of knowledge.”

The Gothic experience will begin on October 22 with an ‘eclectic and exciting’ exhibition of photographs, paintings, and sculptures at the Holden Café Space, which will push boundaries in exploring the human psyche.

Or if you would rather experience some supernatural activity, on October 25 there will be an ‘Underground Mystery and Mythos Tour’.

Among the mystery of the dark, forgotten tunnels you will learn about the opera singer Maria Malibran who died performing in Manchester.

Dr Blake said: “Manchester has always been characterised by poverty, vice and hedonistic excess built on this legacy.

“The music of Joy Division and The Smiths captured it in song whilst more recently cultural institutions like Affleck’s Palace have become a meeting place for like-minded individuals.”

They are promising to have ‘thought-provoking and downright disturbing events’ for festival go-ers to experience, ‘to question the ways in which society brands certain individuals or groups ‘monsters’ and to look at the monstrosity in ourselves’.

Dr Blake, who is a Principal Lecturer in Film in the Department of English and Pathway Leader for the MA English Studies, is passionate about the festival and the gothic.

She said: “My mum tells tales of me saving up my pocket money to buy a torch with which I could read ghost stories under the bedclothes. It’s always been with me.

“I love its outlandish plots and characters, its ability to make us question what is normal, what is right, what is just.

“It’s creation of a world whose hidden realities both shock and excite.

“As such, it can be read on many levels, giving it a diverse fan-base, each of whom brings their own certain something to gothic debates.”

One aim of the festival is to establish MMU and Manchester as a centre of research excellence in the gothic to the wider public.

The festival has already been recognized outside the UK, as Dr Blake and the centre have been invited to talk at a similar event in Madrid.

The theme for this year’s festival is ‘what lies beneath’ allowing people to explore an ‘in-depth investigation of the dark dimensions of the gothic’.

Dr Blake said: “I can safely say that we’ve all learned far more about the gothic, and the gothic dimensions of our city, through running it than we would had we stayed in the library!”

For more information, and for full listings of the festival click here

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