English 100/003 Reading and Writing About Literature (September 2020)

Reading and Writing About Literature – Term 1 MWF 11 a.m.

NOTE: This course will be Web-oriented: it will be fully online and delivered through Canvas. This status differs from that of courses developed by CTLT and offered through Distance Learning. It also retains a registration cap.

Dr. Gisèle M. Baxter

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Haunted Houses

“What is a ghost? A tragedy condemned to repeat itself time and again? An instant of pain, perhaps. Something dead which still seems to be alive. An emotion suspended in time. Like a blurred photograph. Like an insect trapped in amber.”

The Devil’s Backbone (dir. Guillermo Del Toro)

Where is the fascination, even when the deepest mysteries of the universe are being scientifically unlocked, in stories of haunted houses? What accounts for the lure, and even the enjoyment, of tales of terror and horror, even in the 21st century? This course examines the Gothic influence in texts where collisions of past and present, and implications of the uncanny, allow fascinating investigations of social codes and their transgression.

Core texts include Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, Sarah Waters’s The Little Stranger, Helen Oyeyemi’s White is for Witching, and The Others (dir. Alejandro Amenábar), as well as Gardner and Diaz’s Reading and Writing About Literature (4th edition). Through readings in current criticism and theory, we will develop strategies for textual analysis in literary and cultural studies. We will also consider the difficulty, if not impossibility, of reaching a “fixed” or consensus reading of any text. You will write two short essays, a term paper requiring secondary research, and a final examination, and will contribute to in-class and online discussion.

This course will proceed in a fully online form using Canvas, and will involve a combination of asynchronous (notes, links, discussion forums, slides and videos) and synchronous (short live lectures and discussion) materials. I will make sure that the full course is accessible to all students. Any material in Online Library Course Reserve will be available in full text online.

The Turn of the Screw and Reading and Writing About Literature have been ordered in ebook format; The Others will be available to stream through Online Library Course Reserves (it’s also available to rent or purchase digitally through Apple/iTunes, Microsoft Store, and Cineplex, or to order on dvd or bluray). The Haunting of Hill House, White is for Witching, and The Little Stranger are available in print as well as on the following digital platforms: Apple Books/iBooks, Kindle, Google Play; Hill House and White is for Witching are also available on Kobo. They can be read in these digital formats using an app, and do not require a specific e-reader. They might be available in digital format through a public library website. Only legally published versions of material under copyright will be acceptable for use in this course.

Keep checking this post for updates concerning the course, its texts, and its requirements.

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