Segments in this Video

The City and the Soul: Introduction (02:35)


The word Gothic has several applications. In the 19th century, Britain became a battle ground for two opposing Gothic forces.

Joseph Wright of Derby (04:32)

"Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump" incorporates a Gothic sense of terror. Wright explored the tension between old world faith and new world science. He was the first artist to paint a modern factory.

Mary Shelley (02:46)

In the beginning of the 19th century, the frontiers of science made significant progress. Shelley found solace and inspiration in a churchyard. She and Percy Shelley declared their love in the graveyard.

"Frankenstein" (01:36)

Andrew Graham-Dixon reads a passage from Shelley's novel that took inspiration from well-known experiments at the time. Graham-Dixon views the character Victor Frankenstein as the real monster in the novel.

Rejection and Revenge (01:18)

Graham-Dixon views Mary Shelley's "monster" as a tragic character. "Frankenstein" expresses the 19th century terror of out of control science.

William Blake (02:37)

Many in the 19th century feared that modern science was destroying wonder. Blake believed science was the tree of death. A microscopic image of a flea inspired Blake to paint "The Ghost of a Flea."

Penny Dreadfuls (02:10)

The city was the source of many fears for many Victorians. Popular tales like "Spring -Heeled Jack" and "Sweeney Todd" fed those fears. Hear a quote from critic Harriet Martineau's "Life in the Criminal Class."

Charles Dickens (04:12)

Evidence suggests that Penny Dreadfuls eased urban anxieties and boosted adult literacy. Dickens reinvented urban Gothic for the middle class; his most vivid Gothic representation appearing in "Bleak House."

John Martin (03:41)

Many Victorians felt uneasy about the effects of industrial revolution. Martin exploited Victorian anxieties in his work; "The Great Day of His Wrath" was a popular success.

Medieval Obsession (03:38)

Gothic optimists encouraged returning to the past to create a better future. Victorian Gothic dreams took many forms including novels like "Ivanhoe" and spectacles like the joust.

Augustus Pugin (03:07)

At the age of 24, Pugin published "Contrasts." Graham-Dixon examines Pugin's personal copy at the British Library.

British House of Parliament (03:40)

After Westminster burnt to the ground in 1834, the new houses of parliament were built in the Gothic style, designed by Pugin. Graham-Dixon admires the chamber of the House of Lords and reflects on its impact.

St. Giles Church, Staffordshire (03:25)

Pugin completed the church in 1840. Graham-Dixon discusses Pugin's desire to "bring the Gothic fight into the heart of the Industrial Revolution." Pugin died at the age of 40.

Widow of Windsor (03:45)

Queen Elizabeth ruled Britain at the height of its power. When Prince Albert died in 1861, she entered a 40 year mourning period and pathologically ritualized the memory of her husband. Graham-Dixon discusses the architectural elements of the Albert Memorial.

Holloway Sanatorium (02:36)

Britain enthusiastically embraced medieval architecture. Thomas Holloway appointed Thomas Crossland to design an asylum. Graham-Dixon discusses the contrasts between the building's purpose and its decorations.

Architecture and Mental Health (02:25)

Graham-Dixon discusses the design of the recreation room in the Holloway Sanatorium and questions the Victorian belief that architecture could heal. In the 19th century, the number of "persons of unsound mind" confined in sanatoriums more than quadrupled.

Reviewing the Two Faces of Gothic (01:13)

Graham-Dixon reflects on the perception of Gothic styles in the late Victorian Era.

Credits: The City and the Soul (00:44)

Credits: The City and the Soul

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The City and the Soul

Part of the Series : The Art of Gothic
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $300.00
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3-Year Streaming Price: $300.00



As the Industrial Revolution promised more and more inexplicable wonders of the modern world, Gothic art and literature became both backward and forward looking. In her novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley warned of the dangers of how science could get out of control, while Sir Giles Gilbert Scott used Gothic architecture to memorialise Prince Albert as a medieval hero. Meanwhile, poets indulged in hallucinatory drugs to reach new Gothic heights. Where would it all end? A BBC Production.

Length: 51 minutes

Item#: BVL86555

ISBN: 978-1-60057-966-0

Copyright date: ©2014

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