A Study of Gothic Subculture

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

Updated 3-12-2009
   Home > What Is Gothic? >
Origins  |  Common Culture  |  Critical Analysis

What Is Gothic?

Excellent FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions) in other sites:

  • alt.gothic FAQ page -- There is some good information here. However, I don't think it is 100% accurate.
  • UK.people.gothic FAQ -- The point of view of the United Kingdom's gothic culture. It is very informative and lengthy.


The term Gothic is the same as goth, Gothdom, gothik etc. The only difference is noun or adjective use. Goth is typically used as either a noun (especially when referring to a person) or an adjective; Gothic is usually an adjective e.g. That person is a Goth. Those boots are gothic. Goth is often capitalized when referring to a person. However, capitalization can be arbitrary. There is no general distinction between these terms or standards for usage. For our purposes, we'll use these words interchangeably.

Gothic: Of or pertaining to a literary style of fiction prevalent in the late 18th and early 19th centuries which emphasized the grotesque, mysterious, and desolate: a gothic novel. [This is the relevant definition in the dictionary. Think of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and the works of Edgar Allen Poe.]

What does gothic mean in regards to the group of people? Here's where it gets confusing. There are things that many Goths like that are not gothic (Industrial or Classical music). There are things that are gothic that many Goths dislike (vampires, interest in death). There are things that some people think are gothic that are not gothic (bands like Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails), and there are things that do not call themselves gothic even if they are considered gothic by most people (bands like Sisters of Mercy and Dead Can Dance). However, there's no Grand Gothic Judge to decree what is truly Goth and what is not, although there are plenty of people who claim to be it. It's an ambiguous label with many people using it that don't understand what it means. The people who do understand it often have many different definitions.

What Is Gothic? Table of Contents

Origins of Gothic A few different takes on how Gothic began and the lyrics to "Bela Lugosi's Dead."
Common Culture A description of Gothic fashion, books, movies and other common cultural quirks.
Critical Analysis Gaining Acceptance in the Scene , Archetypes / Stereotypes , Self Cutting, Appeal of Graveyards , Blood Drinking , Death Fixation , Depression