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Gothic - the subculture

Search for 'Gothic' on Google and you'll find many many hits, about a lot of subjects. Mainly architecture and art. But, there's also a subculture (or various related sub-subcultures) heavily influenced by neo-punk music styles and 'Gothic' literature from Horace Walpole, Mary Shelley, Edgar Allen Poe and many more.

Let's start by saying that the name can be confusing. It's roots do not go back to the Middle Ages, nor does the clothing or music. But, subjects and locations in the books do often happen to be in the Medieval, Victorian, ages.

Goth is a music-based subculture that began in the United Kingdom during the early 1980s. It was developed by fans of gothic rock, an offshoot of the post-punk music genre. Post-punk artists who presaged the gothic rock genre and helped develop and shape the subculture include Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, the Cure, and Joy Division.

The goth subculture has survived much longer than others of the same era, and has continued to diversify and spread throughout the world. Its imagery and cultural proclivities indicate influences from 19th-century Gothic fiction and from horror films. The scene is centered on music festivals, nightclubs, and organized meetings, especially in Western Europe. The subculture has associated tastes in music, aesthetics, and fashion.

The music preferred by goths includes a number of styles such as gothic rock, death rock, cold wave, dark wave, and ethereal wave. The Gothic fashion style draws influences from punk, new wave, New Romantic fashion and the dressing styles of earlier periods such as the Victorian, Edwardian, and Belle Époque eras. The style most often includes dark (usually solid black) attire, dark makeup, and black hair.

The Goth subculture of the 1980s drew inspiration from a variety of sources. Some of them were modern or contemporary, others were centuries-old or ancient. Michael Bibby and Lauren M. E. Goodlad liken the subculture to a bricolage. Among the music-subcultures that influenced it were punk, new wave, and glam. But it also drew inspiration from B-movies, Gothic literature, horror films, vampire cults and traditional mythology. Among the mythologies that proved influential in Goth were Celtic mythology, Christian mythology, Egyptian mythology, and various traditions of Paganism.

The figures that the movement counted among its historic canon of ancestors were equally diverse. They included the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900), Comte de Lautréamont (1846–1870), Salvador Dalí (1904–1989) and Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980). Writers that have had a significant influence on the movement also represent a diverse canon. They include Ann Radcliffe (1764–1823), John William Polidori (1795–1821), Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849), Sheridan Le Fanu (1814–1873), Bram Stoker (1847–1912), Oscar Wilde (1854–1900), H. P. Lovecraft (1890–1937), Anne Rice (1941–2021), William Gibson (1948–present), Ian McEwan (1948–present), Storm Constantine (1956–2021), and Poppy Z. Brite (1967–present).

The gothic subculture has influenced different artists—not only musicians—but also painters and photographers. In particular their work is based on mystic, morbid and romantic motifs. In photography and painting the spectrum varies from erotic artwork to romantic images of vampires or ghosts. There is a marked preference for dark colours and sentiments, similar to Gothic fiction. At the end of the 19th century, painters like John Everett Millais and John Ruskin invented a new kind of Gothic.

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