English 100/003: Reading and Writing About Literature (September 2021)

ENGL 100/003: Reading and Writing About Literature: Haunted Houses

Dr. Gisèle M. Baxter

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NOTE: This course will be web-based: 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.

Term 1 | MWF 11:00-12:00p

“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 Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca; Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House; Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger; Helen Oyeyemi, White is for Witching; and Crimson Peak (dir. Guillermo Del Toro), as well as Gardner and Diaz, Reading and Writing About Literature (5th 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.

The course will be fully online and will combine synchronous (live video lectures with discussion) and asynchronous (Canvas-based discussion, notes, online resources) material.

Evaluation will be based on two short essays, a term paper requiring secondary academic research, a final examination, and participation in discussion.

Editions of the texts and digital options will be identified later this summer.

See Recent Posts or Archives (June 2021) in the right sidebar menu for descriptions of my other 2021-22 courses.

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