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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 secondsDark clouds gather over the English country house this week as we begin to chart its decline and decay. We're now dealing with a darker house, a bleaker house. In Ann Radcliffe's Gothic novel, 'The Mysteries of Udolpho', the country house becomes strange and threatening, a prison-like space of terror and suspense. Taking his inspiration from the Gothic novelists, Charles Dickens imagined a country house suspended in time. In 'Great Expectations', Satis House is the rotting home of Miss Havisham, his ghastly corpse bride.

Skip to 0 minutes and 45 secondsAnd if you need to steady your nerve, I'll be discussing one of the many domestic economies that operated within the English country house, teaching us about the fascinating history of country house brewing and rounding the week off with a trip to the pub. So here are some key questions to think about this week. How is the English country house depicted in Gothic literature? How do ideas of decay affect depictions of the country house? And what is the domestic economy of the English country house? So steel your nerves and prepared to be frightened as we explore the darker side of the English country house.

Welcome to Week 5

This week we emerge from the genteel world of Jane Austen to take a look at the somewhat darker side of country house life with country house owners who are reclusive or downright malevolent.

We are joined this week by Dr Angela Wright, who will examine a malevolent country house (or rather castle!) owner in Ann Radcliffe’s Gothic novel, ‘The Mysteries of Udolpho’ and Dr Amber Regis who will be examining one of the most famous characters in English literature, the reclusive Miss Havisham from ‘Great Expectations’.

Here are some questions to think about as we work through this week:

  1. How is the country house depicted in Gothic literature?
  2. How do ideas of decay effect depictions of the country house?
  3. What is the domestic economy of the English country house?

A date for your diary

At the end of this week, two of our educators: Joe and Amber will be available to answer questions relating to Weeks 4 and 5 during a live Google Hangout on 30th July 2015 from 7pm until 8pm BST (GMT + 1).

The discussion will be streamed live on Google+ Hangout and YouTube. Google users can register their interest on the Event Page to receive an update when the event is about to start.

If you think of any questions you would like to ask as you work through this week, you can either leave a comment in Step 5.16, use the course hashtag #FLHouseLit on Twitter, or submit them in the Google Hangout chat window (if you have a Google account).

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This video is from the free online course:

Literature of the English Country House

The University of Sheffield