Gothic Mediums

When and Where

Thursday, February 09, 2023 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Online and VC102
Victoria College


Colleen McDonell


The Northrop Frye Centre is pleased to invite you to the third talk in our 2022-23 NFC Doctoral Fellow Lecture Series, "Gothic Mediums: Representations of Domestic Servants in Wuthering Heights and 'The Lifted Veil'" with NFC Doctoral Fellow Colleen McDonell on Thursday, Feb. 9, at 5  p.m.

This is a hybrid event. Attendants who register for a virtual ticket will receive a Zoom link in advance of the talk.

About the talk

For most of Queen Victoria’s reign, domestic servants were the largest category of workers, labouring and often living under the same roofs as their employers. At the same time, Gothic fiction became increasingly domesticated: moving away from the remote pasts and foreign places of eighteenth-century Gothic novels, the genre was projected instead onto more familiar, everyday settings for middle-class British readers. My dissertation analyzes servant characters in Victorian Gothic fiction, arguing that these maids, butlers, and housekeepers are often represented as “mediums” in how they interact with the dead and serve as channels of communication between different social classes. In this talk, I take Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847) and George Eliot’s “The Lifted Veil” (1859) as case studies for exploring this servant-medium dynamic and turn briefly to its depictions in magazines of the period. Studying the servant figure in Victorian Gothic fiction provides insight into theories of non-realist genres as well as (mis)conceptions of domestic labour—conceptions that may continue to haunt contemporary literature.
About the speaker

Colleen McDonell is a Ph.D. candidate in English and the collaborative Book History and Print Culture program. Her dissertation analyzes servants in Victorian Gothic fiction and how these characters can act as “mediums” within the home. More broadly, this work examines domestic space as a nexus between fear and fraught representations of class and labour.

Outside of her research, Colleen has served as the Canadian Graduate Representative for the North American Victorian Studies Association, as a co-convener for the Nineteenth Century Reading Group in the Department of English, and as a printing volunteer at the Massey College Bibliography Room. In her free time, she enjoys painting, practicing yoga, and going on ghost tours.

For more information and to register for this event, please email:

Contact Information


Victoria College