This course will examine U.S. literature from the early nineteenth century through the lens of the gothic genre. Understanding the elasticity and limitations of the gothic necessarily requires an understanding of its transatlantic and transnational genealogy. Given that the form first emerged in Britain and on the European continent, commentators have long maintained U.S. writers had to adapt the gothic to suit the tastes of their North American audiences.
But what does “adapting” the gothic really mean? And just how exceptional was the American gothic? The first English gothic novel—Henry Walpole’s campy 1764 The Castle of Otranto—emerged in response to an animated 18th-century British debate about whether fiction could be morally improving if it wasn’t true to life.
The gothic has come a long way since its mid-eighteenth-century origins, but what paths has it traveled? How did an emphatically British genre become an origin point for American fiction, a staple of African-American narrative form, and Hollywood’s bread and butter?
In this course, we’ll read gothic fiction from its beginnings to its most recent incarnations, but much of our literary reading will be paired with examples of the gothic in contemporary American pop culture--television and movies--in order to think critically about why and how the gothic’s obsessions with spectrality, history, communal boundaries, gender and racial uncertainty, political dominance, and literary authority continue to resurface in different media throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
READING, PARTICIPATION, AND ATTENDANCE (20% of grade): You are expected to read and reflect upon all of the assigned material. Regular participation is expected. Participation will consist of contributing to class discussion and completing short responses on asynchronous class days. Zoom session attendance is essential. Grading for this category follows a point structure that can be found by clicking here.
TWO FORMAL ESSAYS (45% of grade): You will write two formal papers during the course of the semester. Detailed assignment guidelines for each paper will be posted in papers section on this web page. You will submit your papers to me via a Team Drive folder that only you and I will have access to in order to protect your privacy.
FINAL EXAM (20% of grade): On the last day of class, you will complete an essay exam during our usually scheduled class time. Questions will be released to you at 11:20AM EDT and you will have until 1:15PM EDT to submit your essays. This will not be proctored, as you will be permitted to consult your course materials during the exam.
WORKSHOPS (15% of grade): On some Tuesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays, half of the class will participate in writing and critical inquiry workshops where you'll receive feedback on your writing from your peers and me before you submit your essays for a grade. You will be assigned to workshop groups, and these sessions will be clearly labelled on the schedule portion of the syllabus.
There will be two papers assigned in this class: one 4-page and 6-page paper. The first essay will be a close literary analysis paper, and the second will be an essay on the gothic and contemporary pop culture and how it draws on the nineteenth-century gothic tradition (recent mass market fiction, movies, TV shows, YouTube content, video games, etc.).
Details about each assignment will be provided in the form of rubrics in due time. These papers should follow MLA formatting and citation guidelines. You can find the general set of MLA guidelines online here: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/557/01/
***FIRST ESSAY ASSIGNMENT RUBRIC (20% of overall grade)
***SECOND ESSAY ASSIGNMENT RUBRIC (25% of overall grade)
SUBMITTING WORK TO GOOGLE DRIVE
To safeguard your academic privacy for this class, we must use UM's licensed version of Google Drive. You will need to create a team drive folder and share it with me.
To set up your folder, follow these steps . . .
1. Sign into Google Drive using your Cane ID/UM email address.
When you do this, you will momentarily get redirected to this familiar UM credentials sign-in. Once you sign in successfully, you'll get bumped back to Drive.
Always check to be sure you are signed into your UM Drive account by confirming the "U" logo is in your upper, right-hand corner.