• Gothicising Picnic at Hanging Rock

    Derek Johnston (see profile)
    Cultural Studies, Horror, Television Studies
    Television programs, Gothic fiction, Horror fiction, Group identity, Popular culture, Transnationalism, History, Public history
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    Gothic Association of New Zealand and Australia 5th Biennial Conference: \'Gothic Networks: Webs, Traps and Global Trends\'
    Conf. Org.:
    Gothic Association of New Zealand and Australia; Curtin University
    Conf. Loc.:
    Conf. Date:
    24-25 January 2023
    Weird, Hauntology, Gothic television, Australian television
    Permanent URL:
    This paper considers the 2018 television adaptation of Picnic at Hanging Rock as an example of Gothicised historical television drama, which uses the Gothic mode to present a past in a way that challenges our expectations of what prestige historical drama should be like, and to emphasise historical traumas and the way that they are still relevant and active today. The adaptation does this in part through its added emphasis on oppression and entrapment through gender, class, wealth and ethnicity. It also does it through its embrace of more ‘Gothic’ aesthetics, placing it alongside other Gothicised historical television dramas such as Taboo, Peaky Blinders, The Terror, and Black Sails.      I argue that this trend or grouping is partly a response to developments in the aesthetics of television and the idea of what a ‘prestige’ drama should look like. I also argue that it is a reaction against ideas of what a prestige historical drama should look like, particularly in terms of Andrew Higson’s conception of the ‘heritage drama’. By challenging our expectations of the heritage drama, and particularly of a text with a familiar presentation, we are encouraged to consider it anew. By presenting these historical dramas through a Gothic lens, we are particularly encouraged to consider their representations of trauma, and how those traumas remain relevant to our lives today.
    Last Updated:
    1 year ago


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