ENGL 100/003: Reading and Writing About Language and Literatures (September 2022)

ENGL 100/003: Reading and Writing About Language and Literatures

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

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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 Henry James, The Turn of the Screw; Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House; Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger; Helen Oyeyemi, White is for Witching; and The Others (dir. Alejandro Amenábar), 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.

Evaluation will be based on a short timed essay, a midterm essay (secondary research required), a term paper (secondary research required), a short informal final reflection essay, and participation in discussion.

Concerning Text Availability:

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, GooglePlay, YouTube, 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 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.

See Recent Posts or Archives (May 2022) in the right sidebar menu for descriptions of my other 2022-23 courses. See Archives (February 2022) for descriptions of my Summer 2022 courses.

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