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.

Evaluation will be based on two short essays, a term paper requiring secondary academic research, a final examination, and participation in 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 Reserves will be available in full text online.

You may order Reading and Writing About Literature in ebook format through the UBC Bookstore; The Others will be available to stream through Library Online Course Reserves linked to the Canvas site (it’s also available to rent or purchase digitally through Apple/iTunes, Microsoft Store, and Cineplex, or to order on dvd or bluray).

The Turn of the Screw is available in its Broadview edition on RedShelf, GooglePlay, and VitalSource; it’s also available on Project Gutenberg, but the Broadview is reasonably priced and has a very good introduction, plus interesting supplementary materials.

Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, Helen Oyeyemi’s White is for Witching, and Sarah Waters’s The Little Stranger are available in print as well as on the following digital platforms: Apple Books/iBooks, Kindle, Google Play; The Haunting of Hill House and White is for Witching are also available on Kobo (choose the novel The Haunting of Hill House on Kobo, NOT the study guide, which is irrelevant to this course and so a waste of money!). The novels can be read in these digital formats using an app and/or a browser, and do not require a specific e-reader.

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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