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American Gothic: Haunted Houses

ENGL 286.601
instructor(s):
W 5:30-8:10

The Gothic novel developed as a response to the Age of Reason and was subsumed by Romanticism. Yet in its wake the supernatural, horror, and the dimensions of evil still fascinate storytellers, even those specializing in realistic depictions of contemporary society. We will read a selection of American prose fiction by some of the most critically acclaimed writers from the late 18th century through the 20th. They include Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, and Toni Morrison. Each has produced works of fiction centered on a haunted house. We will explore these depictions both in written form (stories and novels) as well as film adaptations of selected authors' texts. We will not only consider the nature and importance of "haunting" for each author, we will also compare and contrast text versus film regarding the respective power to terrify an audience.

Requirements: class attendance and participation, an oral presentation, and three to four papers.