DARK IMAGININGS: GOTHIC TALES OF WONDER, an exhibition forthcoming in the Noel Shaw Gallery, Baillieu Library, will explore the expression of the Gothic from the mid-18th century to the end of the 19th century, primarily as represented in the University’s Special Collections. It will mark a number of important gothic anniversaries, including the bicentenary of the first publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the 200th birthday of Emily Brontë, author of Wuthering Heights.
The exhibition will be arranged thematically. One space—which emulates a drawing room—celebrates the act of reading in the context of gothic literature. Another space explores the so-called “Graveyard poets” and “resurrectionists” (or body snatchers) and another the preoccupations of the anatomists and followers of Luigi Galvani, whose attempts at re-animating the dead were of direct influence on Mary Shelley. Gothic places and psychological states—illuminated by the artistic works of Henry Fuseli, Salvator Rosa, G.B. Piranesi, Francisco Goya, John Martin, Charles Méryon and others—are the focus of the rest of the gallery.
The exhibition will also embrace both trick photography and magic lantern slides, and their projectors (on loan from the Melbourne Museum), as providing a means to realise ghosts and other paranormal happenings such as levitation in more-or-less convincing ways.
Dark Imaginings will extend beyond the gallery space. Academics involved in studying the gothic, and their students, have agreed to contribute in their areas of expertise to a Gothic web resource that will go live on the Baillieu Library’s website on 1 March 2018. Students at the University of Melbourne will be encouraged to enter a Gothic micro-story competition, where prizes and publication will await the winning stories of 300 words or less. Finally, a vibrant program of public events is being devised.