The Department of Music is pleased to announce the publication of Dr Joe Davies’s monograph The Gothic Imagination in the Music of Franz Schubert.

Thursday, June 20, 2024 - 11:15

Dr Davies writes:  

‘Just as the gothic prioritizes open-endedness, a blurring of where things begin and close, so this book likewise encourages a blurring of boundaries – new ways of studying, performing, and listening to Schubert’s music and the gothic imagination.’ 

Read Dr Davies’s blogpost, ‘Contextualizing Franz Schubert and the Gothic’, for the Boydell Press here.  

In conversation: Joe Davies discusses the book with Professor Nina Scolnik of the University of California, Irvine here.  


This book illuminates Franz Schubert’s engagement with gothic discourse at the intersection of music, literature, and the visual arts. Ideas of the gothic provide a framework for contextualizing the myriad ways in which Schubert’s music evokes the blurring of past and present, life and death, and for situating strangeness in relation to a cross-disciplinary phenomenon that captivated the imagination of the time. The study traces the gothic from Schubert’s early songs, where its presence is well established, to the instrumental music of his final years. These dialogues speak to shifting associations across chronological boundaries; their traces undergo change, returning in altered contexts – from fleeting disturbances, a rhythmic shudder or a tremolo figuration, to prolonged outbursts and disjuncture. The gothic is at times linked explicitly to death, as in Schubert’s graveyard settings, and at other times implied through doubles and distortion, nocturnal imagery, or hybridity and metamorphosis.  The  Gothic Imagination in the Music of Franz Schubert offers fresh interpretations, grounded in close reading of musical and poetic material, that move beyond the ghostly and macabre towards a world wherein death, the sublime and grotesquerie are intricately entwined. The book therefore provides for a major new contribution to understanding Schubert’s creative approach and the gothic imagination more generally. 

About the author 

JOE DAVIES is Marie Skłodowska-Curie Global Fellow at Maynooth University and the University of California, Irvine. His work is driven by a deep fascination with ideas of death, loss, and remembrance in music of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He is author of The Gothic Imagination in the Music of Franz Schubert (2024); editor of Clara Schumann Studies (2021), the first in the Cambridge Composer Studies series to be devoted to a woman; co-editor with James Sobaskie of Drama in the Music of Franz Schubert (2019); and guest-editor with Nicole Grimes of the special issue ‘Clara Schumann: Changing Identities and Legacies’ (2023). He is currently writing about music and widowhood, co-editing Clara and Robert Schumann in Context with Roe-Min Kok, and co-editing with Natasha Loges two volumes on the global history of women pianists.