History of Gothic Subculture what makes a goth

  • View author's info Author Posted on Aug 10, 2006 at 06:27 PM


    I searched but couldn't find this particular thread. Most people find it a music/personal thing, or style of clothes. I thought I'd post this, from a variety of references, to give the historical terms some validity and maybe shed some light as to why goth involves those attributes it does. =^_^=

    Note that since some of this is from Wikepedia, it's open source knowledge.

    Gothic fiction began in the United Kingdom with The Castle of Otranto (1764) by Horace Walpole. It depended for its effect on the pleasing terror it induced in the reader, a new extension of literary pleasures that was essentially Romantic. It is the predecessor of modern horror fiction and, above all, has led to the common definition of "gothic" as being connected to the dark and horrific.

    Prominent features of gothic fiction include terror (psychological as well as physical), mystery, the supernatural, ghosts, haunted houses and Gothic architecture, castles, darkness, death, decay, doubles, madness (especially mad women), secrets, hereditary curses, persecuted maidens and so on.

    This preceded the European Goth Rock music (an offshoot of punk so-claimed), including the Naked and the Dead. This post-punk music spurred the gothic movement in europe. So goth is essentially european. With help from horror films and gothic literature this helps explain the 'dark' nature of gothic clothing as well as the occasional anti-christian sentiment (also from gothic literature) although where these all tie into gothic architecture I don't know ^_^

    Just thought that might explain why Goth relates to music and to dark and to, in many cases, paganism, atheism or general agnosticism (not always) However, lacking personal definition whether this includes your true term of Goth is up to you!

    Ciao! =^_^=

    BTW, all of this ended up coming from Wiki, cause I'm lazy/couldn't find my books. YAY! ^_^ Sorry its not more rounded!
  • 11Comments

  • View author's info Posted on Jul 08, 2016 at 08:29 PM


    The word Goth originally comes from an ancient Germanic tribe called the Goths, which is one of four major Germanic tribes. The others being the Jutes, Angles, and Saxons. The last two which invaded and warred in modern day England and settled there...that's how we got the term Anglo-Saxon to describe the British. Also, "goth" in architecture is definitely later in time...and is more specific to cathedrals. The method was high cealings, to allow for massive windows to shed as much light as possible into the cathedral. Before that, cathedrals and churches were incredibly dark. The way it was put in my humanities class about gothic architecture..."height is light."
    If all this was already said in other responses to this post...sorry..and also sorry for the poor articulation of what I'm explaining.. Thanks!

  • View author's info Posted on Aug 19, 2007 at 08:57 PM


    I'm just going to toss out a couple of origins here.

    Heavy metal was used in a book in the 50s by William Burroughs I think; that music was fictional, and it was originally used in journalism to describe Iron Butterfly, who named themselves in an attempt to describe their sound...

    Goth rock was first used to describe The Doors; this was mostly before punk and it didn't really catch on.

    The first punk bands were The Ramones, or else MC5, although I'm not sure when the phrase punk rock came about, those groups essentially pioneered the sound.

    So far, those are all American bands, but in the 70s Britain was truly the home of metal and punk, as it had been the previous decade for more standard music.

    Shock rock was started by Arthur Brown and capitalized upon by Alice Cooper.

    Some punk followed the spit on you kind of thing as the Sex Pistols were, however, The Damned were more along the lines of goth sound and appearance, which came into its own with Bauhaus and those other bands mentioned, as well as Christian Death and 45 Grave, who have a harder sound.

    After the 70s, Venom coined the phrase black metal to describe themselves, as well as death metal, power metal, speed metal, thrash metal...but they meant it as a mix of heavy metal and punk.

    Celtic Frost pretty much inaugurated the inclusion of gothic sounds into metal on Into the Pandemonium.

    Noise, industrial, and trance is pretty much part of the same bag, it just came along a little later.

    I'm not here to split hairs with anyone about who's what, and it's probably safe to say there are a number of people who are into a bit of all of it, and some who are strictly one thing. Much as I like different sounds, I do have a strong disliking of The Cure.
  • View author's info Posted on Jun 09, 2007 at 06:44 AM


    I still blame it all on The Cure. ;)
  • View author's info Posted on Mar 13, 2007 at 06:44 AM


    Wight:

    We have kind of touched on this before, you and I, but I shall say again. I think it is fair to point to the inspiration that many "goth" bands take from so-called dark sources, such as "gothic fiction" perhaps even Gothic architecture and so one, when looking at what the word means in terms of a cultural label. However, to go back to "Visigoths and Ostrogoths" is patently ridiculous, especially as, ironically, they were not "dark" at all but rather enlightened and overwhelmingly Christian, actually, albeit a much more tolerant brand than the Roman form which came to dominate.
  • View author's info Posted on Mar 13, 2007 at 06:37 AM


    "Wikipedia" is run on a "fact by concensus" model which alone makes it suspect and is in fact useless for anything which is not recent, geeky and of interest to people who also have a lot of time and use the WWW.

    That said, it does a reasonable job of summarizing, very often. I really wouldn't put too much faith in the accuracy of their details or the conclusions they draw, though ;-)
  • View author's info Posted on Oct 14, 2006 at 10:28 PM


    Wikpedia has a decent explanation...check it out.

    Of course this reality will vary from country and city, but its not bad for starters.
  • View author's info Posted on Sep 19, 2006 at 03:18 AM


    SacredEve write:
    to go too far back in history takes the current term out of context. To go to visigoths even? I was looking merely at the contemporary gothic scene because the goth movement really started again (and in similar form to current) because of music, not a randomly revived interest in gothic architechture (which is soooo pretty). Sorry if that came off short or snappy, gotta go to class



    Agreed.

    As far as I'm concerned any history of Goth that starts outside of the post-punk music genre is rather missing the point.

    Talk about the visigoths, about it's application to architecture, and then literature, and so on, is a nice history of the word 'gothic' as it appears in the English language, but it doesn't really relate much to the Goth scene and culture as we know it today. The application of the term 'Goth' to that segment of the post-punk music scene that would become 'The Goth Scene' was merely one of those accidents of music journalism, it's nothing to think too much about.

    If one is going to talk about the historical uses of the term 'Goth' in referance to Goth subculture, I would hate what these people would make of Punk culture! Whilst the precise Etymology of the word punk is unknown (as far as I'm aware), the earliest trace of the word is under it's archaic use as a term for prostitutes. It of course gained a new meaning for young, inexpierenced, foolish people.

    And that's all well and interesting, but the fact that the Punk scene got given the title Punk doesn't tell us much about the Punk scene itself, nor does knowing that the word Punk once meant 'prostitute' really help us out here. If we want to know more about the Punk scene we need to look at it as a modern music scene.

    Goth is no different. Want to learn about Goth? Investigate post-punk bands like Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, and the music scene they helped estabolish. The word is just a red herring.


    SacredEve write:
    I'm sorry, I didn't intend to link goth to the literature as much as it looks. The fact that I only know goth bands from america -and newer ones too, so they probably bear little resemblance to the original- means I probably barely count as goth. Meh, if pop-rock gets its own cultural dominance its as well that goth can claim at least a divergent subculture. Even if the two pretty much share the name and not the source.


    You should definetly look into British Batcave music. Goth was born in London, UK. I'm not keen on trying to give the same name to other music scenes. There is a growth of what is known as 'CyberGoth', mostly because there is (or was) significant overlap with the Trad Goth scene, but the reason those two are linked together is because they evolved side by side and have close connections.

    However, Metal, Nu-metal, Symphonic Metal, and the like, none of these things have much connection with Goth at all. I don't know what bands you're thinking of, but lest it's something like the 69 Eyes, which I'm happy to say is Goth, you're probably best of using more appropriate labels. I'm not really much aware of many modern American Goth bands, though I'm sure they must exist, 69 Eyes are Finnish, and the other bands that come to mind are bands like Voices of Madasa, or Screaming Banshee Aircrew, and they're both British.
  • View author's info Posted on Sep 18, 2006 at 07:02 AM


    to go too far back in history takes the current term out of context. To go to visigoths even? I was looking merely at the contemporary gothic scene because the goth movement really started again (and in similar form to current) because of music, not a randomly revived interest in gothic architechture (which is soooo pretty). Sorry if that came off short or snappy, gotta go to class
  • View author's info Posted on Aug 28, 2006 at 11:37 AM


    While a decent history of the term "goth", I'm not certain why you decided to start so late in history... Gothic literature is linked to gothic architecture, which in turn is loosely linked back to the original Goths (in that the term was somewhat of a deragatory for the sharp and pointy nature of the architecture).

    The original Goths came from down from Scandanavia sometime in the first century AD and conquered the better part of Europe over the next 300 years. This culminated in the sack of Rome by the Visigoths (one of the two factions that the original Goths fractured into; the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths) in the early 400's. The two factions ruled much of the known world (well, known at that time) on and off until around the 700's (well, about 550 for the Ostrogoths, and 711 for the Visigoths). After which point they were conquered/absorbed into other cultures.

    Gothic architecture basically describes the style of churches and cathedrals from the 1100's until around the 1500 or 1600's. The style was not originally described as Gothic, rather the term came into usage in the 1500's as a derogative for the somewhat barbarous and violent appearance of buildings in the style.

    Over the years the term began to be associated with pretty much anything dark and depressing (hence gothic literature, and eventually gothic music) as a result of both the dark and foreboding nature of the art and architecture as well as the prevailing atmosphere of the time those were created (the Crusades, the Inquisition, etc...). And that pretty much brings us up to the modern day where the meaning of the term hasn't really changed all that much over the last 200 years. The connotations refer less to the dark and middle ages, but the general ideas of darkness, pain, death, and depression have remained fairly unchanged.

    That is all
  • View author's info Posted on Aug 22, 2006 at 08:15 AM


    I'm sorry, I didn't intend to link goth to the literature as much as it looks. The fact that I only know goth bands from america -and newer ones too, so they probably bear little resemblance to the original- means I probably barely count as goth. Meh, if pop-rock gets its own cultural dominance its as well that goth can claim at least a divergent subculture. Even if the two pretty much share the name and not the source.
  • View author's info Posted on Aug 13, 2006 at 07:56 AM


    I think connecting Goth too heavily to other kinds of art labelled 'gothic' is dubious...

    The concept of 'Goths' as a mark of personal identity really starts with the genre Goth which came out of post-punk genre music.

    There is a tendancy for Goths to be interested in 'gothic' literature and the like, though not a huge one, but it all really comes down to the genre of music.

    Goths are essentially the fanship base of Goth.
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