ENGLISH 800.302
"The Unspeakable:
Representing Horror and the Horror of Representation"

Course Description | Course Calendar

Texts and Bulkpack | Course Requirements

Computer Information

Office Hours and Other Information

Schedule of Film Showings and Guide to ResNet

The text and some pictures from PRINCE DRACULA, the original 1488 text depicting the exploits of Vlad the Impaler.

ENGLISH 800.302
"The Unspeakable:
Representing Horror and the Horror of Representation"

Michael Gamer
Class Meets: Thursday, 12-3
Location: Bennett Hall, Room 219



This section of English 800 will provide a forum to address to think theoretically and practically about pedagogy--particularly those issues associated with teaching first-year students and with teaching literary theory. We'll use seminar meetings to address everything from what to do when one one of your students is suicidal to thinking through some very basic theoretical questions about teaching. What do lectures and discussions actually "do" and how do they mesh with what you want to accomplish at a g iven moment in class? What kinds of papers do you want your students to be able to write? What kinds of basic skills should your students leave your class having? Why are these particular skills desirable and others not? We also will use class sessions to address various basic aspects of conducting discussion, giving paper assignments, grading, meeting with students, running student workshops, etc. We'll discuss these, furthermore, before you have to do these things in the classroom.

We also, therefore, will read a number of articles--on pedagogical theory, syllabus formation, reading and writing, power and authority in the classroom--and discuss them at length in our meetings. These will culminate in two conferences: one on Horror and related topics and one on your own course--the one that you'll be conceptualizing at the end of this semester and teaching in the next. The course readings and conferences will aim to equip you, among other things, for that time when you will go on t he job market--an arena in which you will be asked in detail to theorize and explain your own teaching habits. Consequently, I am planning for the course to provide you with at least tolerable acquaintance with current issues, theories, and practices of pedagogy. To address this, we'll be using a number of experimental models in the classroom: writing workshops, portfolios, student-instigated discussions, etc. My goal is to provide you with enough tools so that you can make informed decisions and construct a teaching style that works well with your strengths and interests.


The syllabus for this course will be on-line at http://www.english.upenn.edu/~mgamer/Teaching. You'll also find on this page a number of handouts that I use in my own classroom. As teaching is largely a matter of theft, I encourage you to steal these ad those of other professors and adapt them for your own purposes. I also expect that you will write up some of your own materials and share them with me and with the other members of the seminar. Since there are other teaching materials available on the web, I think that we should grill Al Filreis on September 5th regarding these.



Reading: English 800 is a two-credit course; I've tried, however, to make the reading load that of a one-credit seminar, since teaching for the first time is something that takes time--much like moving to a new city or part of the country. There are tasks that I do now without even having to think about them about which you are going to have to think, and for which you should allow yourself the time to think well, because your life can become very miserable very quickly if you do not. You also s hould talk among yourselves a lot ; ideally, I hope that you will help each other solve whatever minor or routine problems (if any problem can be called routine) occur in your classrooms, so that substantial and challenging ones can be the substance of ou r seminar.

Responses: In order to encourage this kind of discussion, I am requiring that each of your write a response of NO MORE than 500 words on the gamer800@english listserve once per week. Your responses should be directed for the most part at the read ings--either the scholarly or the pedagogical or both--and you should send these responses to the listserv two days before we meet as a class: by Tuesday at 5 pm. Between Tuesday and Thursday, and certainly by the beginning of class, you should have read through these responses AND printed them and brought them to class. We will use they as a way of jump-starting the seminar, and as a basis for our discussion.

Presentations: Once during the semester, I'm going to ask you to do a presentation of no more than 12 minutes on a subject of your choosing that will help us to teach the materials for the upcoming two weeks (if you look at the syllabus, you'll fi nd most of the presentations are staggered every two weeks, and have a suggested need). Usually, the presentations will consist of one of you doing legwork so that all of us don't have to do so. Ideally, you'll bring in your discoveries--on August 29, f or example, Mike Barsanti is bringing in materials to surround Dracula--but will have transformed at least some of these discoveries into a packet of teaching materials that we all can use in the following weeks. Since we can't all read around the first Frankenstein films, for example, whoever does that presentation will be responsible for providing us with teaching materials that we can use in the classroom, as well as presenting whatever reading or take that they have on these materials. Presentation dates are marked in the syllabus, but if you have something that you are dying to do, you should propose it to me in private. My aim in these presentations is to keep them short, practical, useful, and, above all, low-key. They should be well organized and well-presented. The worst thing that you can do is to come in with an aimless presentation that goes over time. If you go over time, I will simply stop you and we'll move on, no matter how good the presentation.

The Two Conferences: At the end of the semester, I will ask you to give two presentations: 1) a formal conference paper on Horror or some topic or problem relevant to the course materials, 2) a formal presentation of 12-15 minutes on the course y ou are planning to teach in the Spring 1997 semester. How you wish to go about this second presentation especially is up to you; we can easily sign up for media carts, overhead projectors, or whatever other aids you need.

We'll do these two conference in two successive weeks at the end of the semester. For the first conference, you should bring copies of your conference paper for everyone, including me. For the second conference, you will need to hand in on this day 1) y our the write-up of your presentation, 2) a syllabus, 3) proof that you have ordered your books, and 4) a completed bulkpack ready to go to whatever reproduction facility you plan to use. I do this because I want your Spring Course to be entirely ready s o that all of your materials will be ready well in advance of the beginning of the semester. It also will simulate how the scheduling of teaching will work when you are in a full-time teaching position, in that you will have to face the problem of concep tualizing and putting together one course while you are still in the middle of another.

For each presentation, I will ask you a few weeks in advance to write a proposal: for the first I'll ask you to write an abstract as you would for any conference, and for the second I'll ask you to write a course description as you would for any Undergra duate Chair. In each, you should imagine yourself selling an idea to an audience not necessarily friendly to your proposal. These due dates are marked in the syllabus, as are the dates of the conference. Both conferences, I hope, will be celebratory af fairs with appropriate food and drink, and we can discuss such matters later.

Incompletes: For this course I will not give imcompletes except in the most obvious of circumstances--long-term illness or death-level trauma in one's immediate family--so please do not ask for one. I do this because all of the assignments are timing-sensitive, and because you will need to have completed this course before walking into a classroom to teach your own.


Aug 29: Beginnings: Dracula, Horror, and the First Day of the Semester. NOTE: In anticipation of Week #2, write to English-help and make an appointment to get a tour of the computer facilities available to you in Bennett 310. Make sure th at they give you a thorough tour, and make them show you how to use the scanner and Adobe photoshop. Write down the steps; you'll want to use these machines at some point. SEE WEEK #2. Literary/Historical/Reading: Bram Stoker, Dracula ( 1897). James Twitchell, "The Vampire Myth"; Christopher Craft, "'Kiss Me with Those Red Lips': Gender and Inversion in Bram Stoker's Dracula"; David A. Cook, "German Cinema of the Weimar Period." Presentation: Michael Barsanti and materi als for Dracula.

Sept 5: JOINT SESSION with Rebecca Bushnell's section of English 800. We'll be having Al Filreis come in to discuss practical issues of pedagogy and technology. In preparation for this meeting, I'd like us to do a number of things instead of spen ding time reading. Do read the extracts from the Penn Printout I've put in the coursepack, but we'll concentrate on doing a crash-course in computer literacy. Given that we have varying degrees of computer expertise available, I am expecting the people who already know that things below to teach the people who don't know the things below how to do the things below. So, I would like you to organize and execute the following tasks before Sept. 5th: 1) Go to 310 Bennett Hall and 2) L earn the basic commands of UNIX (ls, cd, mv, cp, pico, mkdir, rm, rmdir, chmod, etc.)--in order to facilitate this, I am including a copy of Jack Lynch's "Some Basic Unix Commands" in the coursepack; 3) Learn the basic commands of hypertext markup language (HTML) AND make a homepage for yourself; 4) Go to the Penn MOO homepage and read the documents there; 5) Play on the Penn MOO and go through the tutorial in it that is available; 6) write to "english-help@english" whenever yo u run into a problem that can't be solved immediately by people on hand; and 7) finally, take a good look at the on-line version of Penn Printout; it is at http://www.upenn.edu/pennprintout. Take a look at Stuart Curran's "Frankenstein Re vealed" in the Nov. 1994 issue; it is at http://fx.comm.upenn.edu/pennprintout/html/v11/3/nov.html.

Sept 12: Gothic Horror and Its Cultural Status. Literary/Historical/Reading: Samuel Johnson, Rambler #4; Horace Walpole, Castle of Otranto (1764); Anna Letitia Aikin (later Barbauld) and John Aikin, "On the Pleasure Derived from Objects of Terror, with Sir Bertrand, a Fragment" (1773); Clara Reeve, "Introduction" to The Old English Baron (1778); Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Reviews of Anne Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and Matthew Lewis's The Monk (1796); William Godwin, "On History and Romance" (1798); Walter Scott, Review of Charles Maturin's Fatal Revenge; or, the Family of Montorio: a Romance (1807); Eve Sedgwick, "The Character in the Veil: Imagery of the Surface in the Gothic Novel"; Anne Williams, Chapter One from Heart of Darkness: A Poetics of Gothic (1994). Pedagogical Reading: David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky, Preface, Table of Contents, and Introduction to Ways of Reading. Presentation: Teaching Tools for Berger and Advertising:

Sept 19: Reading, Writing, and Workshops. Reading: Nancy Sommers, "I Stand Here Writing"; Peter Elbow, "The War between Reading and Writing and How to End It" (orientation packet); Lester Faigley, "Ideologies of the Self in Writing Evaluati on"; Andrea A. Lunsford and Lisa Ede, "Collaborative Authorship and the Teaching of Writing." NOTE: Next week's reading load is the heaviest of the semester, so you may want to take care of some of it this week (perhaps the literary-critical arti cles).

Sept 26: A History of Horror and Spectacle: Gothic Drama. Literary/Historical/Reading: Jeff Cox, "Introduction" to Seven Gothic Dramas 1789-1825; Matthew G. Lewis, Castle Spectre (1798); Richard Brinsley Peake, Presum ption, or the Fate of Frankenstein (1825); Steven Earl Forry, "The Hideous Progenies of Richard Brinsley Peake: Frankenstein on the Stage, 1823 to 1826" and "'The Foulest Toadstool': Reviving Frankenstein in the Twentieth Century"; Martin F. Norden, "Sexual References in James Whale's Bride of Frankenstein"; Syndy McMillen Conger, "A German Ancestor for Mary Shelley's Monster: Kahlert, Schiller, and the Buried Treasure of Northanger Abbey". Pedagogical Reading : I would like us to focus on the question of what is interesting about these two plays as artifacts of scholarship and as objects for teaching. Under what circumstances would you find these texts useful for an article? for a class? Consequently, I 'd like us to read a series of very short articles on the composition/literature question: Peter Conn, "Combining Literature and Composition: English 886" (orientation packet); Erika Lindemann, "Freshman Composition: No Place for Literature" (orientati on packet); Gary Tate, "A Place for Literature in Composition" (orientation packet); Michael Gamer, "Fictionalizing the Disciplines: Literature and the Boundaries of Knowledge" (orientation packet); Rosemary Kowalski, "The Controversy over Literature in the Composition Classroom." Presenter: Bringing in Materials on the Frankenstein Movies :

Oct 3: This Class Will Be a Workshop on Grading and Evaluating Papers. I would like the 1-2 people who are officially "presenting" to collect and bring in good materials on grading and evaluating from Penn's Faculty, from academic journals, and fr om the World Wide Web. I would like these same presenters each to get to all of us by September 30 copies of three student essays with all identifying markers removed. These three essays should range in quality; ideally, each of you should bring in what is in your opinion an essay that would receive a high grade (B+ or better), a middling to good grade (C+ to B), and a middling to bad grade (F to C). Xerox the essays when they are clean so that they have no grades or marks from you on them. In class, we will talk about how we would respond and grade these essays. Reading: Peter Elbow, "Ranking, Evaluating, and Liking" (orientation packet); and David England, "Objectives for Our Own Composing Processes--When We Respond to Students" (orientation packe t). 1-2 Presenters (see above):

Oct 10: Kitsch, Revision, and Plagiarism. Literary/Historical/Reading: Rolf Eichler, "In the Romantic Tradition: Frankenstein and The Rocky Horror Picture Show"; John Kilgore, "Sexuality and Identity in The Rocky Horror Picture Show"; Amittai F. Aviram, "Postmodern Gay Dionysus: Dr. Fra nk N. Furter." Pedagogical Reading: Rebecca Moore Howard, "Plagiarism, Authorships, and the Academic Death Penalty" (orientation packet); Martha Woodmansee and Peter Jaszi, "The Law of Texts: Copyright in the Academy"; Jim Swan, "Touching Words: Helen Keller, Plagiarism, Authorship"; Marlon B. Ross, "Authority and Authenticity: Scribbling Authors and the Genius of Print in Eighteenth-Century England." Presenter: On Teaching Tools for Rocky Horror.

Oct 17: Handbooks, or Doing Down-and-Dirty Cultural Criticism. Reading: Our own handbook, Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, and Richard Lanham, Style: An Anti-Textbook (in bulkpack).

Oct 24: Theory and the Classroom I. Literary/Historical/Reading: Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (1977). Pedagogical Reading: Dale M. Bauer, "The Other 'F' Word: The Feminist in the Classroom"; Paul Lauter, "'Political Correctness' and the Atta ck on American Colleges" in Higher Education Under Fire; Patricia Williams, "Crimes Without Passion"; Elizabeth A. Flynn, "Review: Feminist Theories/Feminist Composition." Presenter: Materials for Fairy Tales and for The Princess Bride.

Oct 31: Theory and the Classroom II. Reading: Paulo Friere, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Chapters 1-4. Don Bialostosky, "Liberal Education, Writing, and the Dialogic Self"; Gregory S. Jay, "Knowledge, Power, and the Struggle for Representation" (orientation packet); Marnie O' Neill, "Teaching Literature as Cultural Criticism"; Jon Klancher, "Bakhtin's Rhetoric." Presenter: Materials on Horror, Violence, and Censorship.

Nov 7: Visit from Michelle Goldfarb, Director of Student Dispute Resolution Center. Assignment: PLEASE Read the Web Pages from the Penn on-line catalogue regarding Disciplinary Procedures, Plagiarism, Violations of the Academic Code, and the Disp ute Resolution Center. This is your week to learn as much as you can about the disciplinary code, since some of you may have to be involved with it by the time the semester ends. Reading: Begin reading Disclipline and Punish this week in order to think about it in relation to Michelle Goldfarb's visit and academic codes in general.

Nov 14: Theory and the Classroom III. Reading: Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish; Sharon Crowley, "A Personal Essay on Freshman English" (orientation packet); Lester Faigley, "The Changing Politics of Composition Studies." ASSIG NMENT DUE: AN ABSTRACT OF UNDER 500 WORDS FOR YOUR CONFERENCE PAPER.

Nov 21: Politics, Composition, English Departments, and the Academy. Readings from The Minnesota Review (in bulkpack): Cynthia Young, "On Strike at Yale"; Louise Mowder, "Time out of Mind: Graduate Students in the Institution of En glish"; Lennard J. Davis, "Dancing in the Dark: A Manifesto Against Professional Organizations." Readings from Higher Education Under Fire: Cary Nelson and Michael Berubˇ, "Introduction"; "Money, Merit, and Democracy in the University: An Exchange"; Gerald Graf and Gregory Jay, "A Critique of Critical Pedagogy," (last three articles in Higher Education Under Fire). Final Reading: Floyd Urbach, "Developing a Teaching Portfolio." ASSIGNMENT DUE: A Course Descript ion that you will present on December 12.


Dec 5: Conference #1: "Cultures of Horror, Violence, and Spectacle". This will be a traditional conference and you will be presenting papers.

Dec 12: Conference #2: "Presenting the Spring 1997 Line." For this conference, you will be presenting the class you intend to teach next semester. I will expect you to hand in on this day your the write-up of your presentation, a syllabus, proof that you have ordered your books, and a completed bulkpack ready to go to whatever reproduction facility you plan to use.