There have been many "origins" of the Gothic subculture, and from its beginnings in the 70's to its glory days in the 80's, to what it becomes today- the Gothic subculture seems to morph. "Goth", as one knows it begun with the labeling of such artists as Joy Division, Bauhaus and Siouxsie and the Banshees and it was given life by the not so sustainable Punk subculture. The 'Goth' label was first coined by Joy Division's manager, as a way to classify their music as something different from the pop music at the time. The subculture was first apparent in Western Europe and North America. Goth was a label used by the press to classify punk bands with a gloomier feel and more often than not a darker glam-punk look and soon became the label of choice of fans of said music.
Goth, as a subculture has always borrowed heavilly upon many aspects of bygone eras whether for aesthetic inspiration (i.e ankhs and pointed Egyptian eye makeup/ love of eyeliner, medieval and Victorian clothes) as well as Goths tend to enjoy literature, art and the general ambience of another time period. I'm going to be focusing on Gothic literature and the eighteenth century...ie...rambling on a tangent for a while.
While the fashions of past eras, influence the modern subculture- the literary movement also influences as well. Gothic literature primarily focused on horror, terror, ruin, death and decay. The Gothic novel, generally was set in places that were considered "gothic" in archetecture (abbeys,castles, mansions, etc.). Historically, some cite the rise of Gothic literature to a period in the eighteenth century called the 'Enlightenment'. The thoughts of Enlightenment philosophers and writers was that reason and human understanding was prized over human emotion. The Gothic was a departure from the decorum and rationality of the time and explored the unreasonable side of life as well as human emotion.
Now, to depart from literature and philosophy and to delve into the social aspect of the eighteenth century for one quick paragraph.
The eighteenth century was a time in which there was great social upheaval-the most notable was that of the American Revolution, The Seven Years War and the French Revolution. Besides the wars...(what's a century without wars...<.<) countries the rise such as Prussia (now Germany), Russia and Austria shifted the balance of power from the powerhouses of France, England and Spain. Along with the rise of nations, cultural centers such as Vienna and Paris became places where nations could show of their power and enlightenment. Along with changes in Europe, the British colony of America was gaining its independence and the influence of European countries in Asia would begin the reign of British Colonialism in India and the eventual ruin of the Mughal empire which had already entered a long decline after the death of Aurungzheb *misspelt this* (irg...nasty throne stealer....irg...I don't like him much.).
And that is some history in a rambly nutshell. I'd write more but I'm a bit sleepy- and move onto the nineteenth century and then a bit back, or more if you'd like...but I'll save that for a bit later.