ENGL 100/002: Reading and Writing About Language and Literatures
Term 1 | MWF 10:00-11:00 a.m.
“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 a small selection of public-domain short stories (to be announced); Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House; Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger; Helen Oyeyemi, White is for Witching; and The Others (dir. Alejandro Amenábar); possibly another film; 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 focused analysis, a midterm essay, a term paper requiring secondary academic research, a short final reflection essay, and participation in discussion.
Text acquisition options:
The UBC Bookstore will order print editions of the novels and ebook access tokens for Reading and Writing About Literature.
The Others will be available to stream through Library Online Course Reserves, linked to our Canvas site.
If you want to start reading, here are some options:
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 through Amazon and Indigo, as well as on the following digital platforms: Apple Books, Kindle, Google Play; The Haunting of Hill House and White is for Witching are also available on Kobo (choose the Penguin edition of the novel The Haunting of Hill House on Kobo, NOT the study guide, which is a waste of money!).
Reading and Writing about Literature (5th edition) is available as an ebook on Vitalsource and as a paperback (much more expensive) on Amazon.
All the texts can be read as ebooks using an app or browser; they do not require a specific e-reader.
Only legally published editions of material under copyright (this includes all the novels and Reading and Writing about Literature) will be acceptable for use in this course. Extraordinarily cheap or free editions of books still under copyright are unauthorized and risk errors and/or missing material. Email me (Gisele.Baxter@ubc.ca) and provide a link if you have any questions about an edition.
Please keep checking this post for more information about the course, its texts, and its requirements.