SYLLABUS: "WOMEN, LAW, AND THE GOTHIC"
Professor: Michael Gamer
Class meets day/time: Thursday, 6:30-9:10 p.m.
Location of my office: 203 Bennett Hall
Office Hours: By appointment.
Office Phone: 898-7346; if no answer, leave message at 898-7341.
Teaching Information: http://www.english.upenn.edu/~mgamer/Teaching
At Penn Book Center, 3726 Walnut, Ph:222-7600.
--A Guide to the New MLA Documentation Style. Ed. J. Trimmer.
(NY: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN# 0-395-37023-4).
--Jane Austen, Northanger
Abbey (composed 1798; published 1818; Oxford). ISBN#0451518349.
--Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (1979,
--Charlotte Dacre, Zofloya (1806), ed. Adriana Craciun
(Broadview Press, 1997).
--Ellen Fein and Sherry Schneider, The Rules (Warner Books,
--Matthew Lewis, The
Monk (1796; Oxford). ISBN#0192815245.
--Ann Radcliffe, The Italian (1797)
--Mary Wollstonecraft, The
Wrongs of Woman. (1798; Norton ISBN#0393311694).
--Bram Stoker, Dracula
--Horace Walpole, Castle of Otranto (1764).
OTHER COURSE READINGS:
Available at Wharton Reprographics, Basement of Wharton School, entrance
on Locust Walk.
--Anna Letitia Aikin (later Barbauld) and John Aikin, "On
Romance" and "On
the Pleasure Derived from Objects of Terror, With Sir Bertrand, A
Fragment" from Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose and Verse (1773).
--Burke, Edmund. Selections from A
Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and
Beautiful (2nd edition, 1759).
--Pat Califia, "Introduction"
to Macho Sluts (Alyson Publications, 1988).
--Anna Clark, "Women's
Pain, Men's Pleasure: Rape in the Late Eighteenth Century," from
Women's Silence, Men's Violence: Sexual Assault in England,
1770-1845. London: Pandora, 1987..
--Christopher Craft, "'Kiss Me with those Red Lips': Gender and
Inversion in Bram Stoker's Dracula."
"The Enlightenment in Its World" from The Enlightenment: An
Interpretation (Norton, 1966).
--David Hume, "On
Superstition and Enthusiasm", and "Of
"An Answer to the Question: What Is Enlightenment?"
--Catherine MacKinnon, "Pornography" from Towards a Feminist
Theory of the State (1988).
--Hannah More, Strictures on the Modern System of Female
Education (1799; selections)
--Uvedale Price, On the
Reeve, Preface to the 2nd edition of The Old English Baron
--Laurence Stone, "Sex,
Money, and Murder in Eighteenth-Century England."
--Mary Wollstonecraft, Preface
to the Female Reader (1789).
The literary portion of this course will explore why Gothic horror becomes
such a popular genre for women writing fiction in the 18th and 19th
centuries. In doing so, we will begin with three terms --sex, violence,
and law -- and begin asking why Gothic horror is so interested in moments
when any two of these terms becomes indistinguishable from one another. We
will explore the relation between gender and the law by looking at what
happens when sex becomes violent, or when such violence is sanctioned by
the state. The goal of this course is to trace the history of attitudes
toward women, sex, and violence, and to connect those hearings to modern
debates about the relation between representations of sex and violence and
the everyday violence that women (and men) experience. There will be
several short responses and a final essay.
UNIT ONE: ENLIGHTENMENT, SENSIBILITY, PLEASURE, AND TERROR
May 22: Introduction to the Course. We will discuss Anna
Letitia Aikin (later Barbauld) and John Aikin, "On
the Pleasure Derived from Objects of Terror, With Sir Bertrand, A
Fragment" from Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose and Verse (1773).
May 29: The Mob and the Enlightenment. Read Peter Gay, Peter Gay,
"The Enlightenment in Its World"; Immanuel Kant,
"An Answer to the Question: What Is Enlightenment?"; David Hume, "On
Superstition and Enthusiasm"; Clara Reeve, "Introduction
to the 2nd edition of The Old English Baron (1778); Horace
Walpole, Castle of Otranto (1764). For general information, read
the biographical essay on Horace Walpole as well in the coursepack.
UNIT TWO: GOTHIC RECEPTIONS AND PRODUCTIONS
June 5: . Read Matthew Lewis, The
Monk, volumes 1-2. Read the biographical essay on Lewis in the
edition, as well as the reviews of the novel in the coursepack.
June 12: Horror, Torture, and the Mob of Readers. Finish The
Monk. Read Ann Radcliffe, The Italian, volume I. Read also
Edmund Burke, "On the
Effects of Tragedy" (Sections XIII-XV in the coursepack selections of
A Philosophical Enquiry, in coursepack); David Hume, "Of
Tragedy"; read Pat Califia, "Introduction"
to Macho Sluts. There is a plot summary
of The Italian in the coursepack; as it is a complex book, I
recommend you read this to make sure you have the events of the novel
June 19: Gothic and Landscape. Finish The Italian. Read
as well the coursepack selections from Edmund Burke, A
Philosophical Enquiry, Uvedale Price On the
Picturesque, and my own notes on the sublime, beautiful, and
picturesque. For general information, read the biographical essay on
Radcliffe in your edition.
June 26: Gothic and Conduct. Read Jane Austen, Northanger
Abbey; Read Hannah More, Strictures on the Modern System of Female
Education (1799; selections in coursepack). You may also wish to see
Mary Wollstonecraft, Preface
to The Female Reader (1789). For general information on Austen,
read the biographical essay in the edition as well.
July 3: Gothic Realism? Read Mary Wollstonecraft, The Wrongs
of Woman; Anna Clark, "Women's
Pain, Men's Pleasure: Rape in the Late Eighteenth Century"; Laurence
Money, and Murder in Eighteenth-Century England." For general
information on Wollstonecraft, read the biographical essay in your edition
July 10: Male and Female Gothic? Read Charlotte Dacre,
Zofloya. Read Adriana Craciun's Introduction and the Appendices to
the edition as well. They are excellent.
UNIT THREE: TWO GOTHIC REVIVALS AND MUTATIONS
July 17: Conduct Revisited. Read Bram Stoker, Dracula,
first half. Read The Rules.
July 24: Stalking and Courtship. Finish Dracula; read
Christopher Craft, "'Kiss Me with those Red Lips': Gender and Inversion in
Bram Stoker's Dracula."
July 31: Read Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber and Other
Stories (1979) and "The Loves of Lady Purple." Read also Robin Ann
Sheets, "Pornography, Fairy Tales, and Feminism: Angela Carter's The
Bloody Chamber," and Mary Kaiser, "Fairy Tale as Sexual Allegory:
Intertextuality in Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber."
Aug 7: Last Day: Read the reviews of Gothic novels in this
section of the coursepack. Read Catherine MacKinnon, "Pornography";
reread Pat Califia, "Introduction" to Macho Sluts.
FINAL ESSAYS DUE AUGUST 10. Any late essays will be penalized
1/3 grade per day late. I will not accept any essays after August 14.
REQUIREMENTS OF THE COURSE:
Attendance and Participation: This class will conduct itself as a
seminar--that is, as a group of people sharing mutual interests who meet
regularly to pursue those interests. Our class, consequently, will be
discussion-based and largely egalitarian. This means that the class will
only work if you come prepared to talk, to listen, and to question and
argue with me and with one another. I've set up the course so that you
will have considerable freedom to come into class with your own agendas
and questions. Obviously, with this freedom comes responsibility. On the
one hand, as a class, we must agree to honor each other's tangents, and
respect what each other thinks is important; on the other hand, it is
every seminar member's responsibility to be succinct, and not to waste the
rest of the members' time by gassing on incoherently about a personal
hobby-horse. Most importantly, it means responding to one another rather
than talking at one another. If this all sounds a bit like a marriage
ceremony, that's not entirely accidental; we're going to have to live with
one another, for better or for worse, for 42 hours of class time. So, if
you are extremely shy to the point of being incapable of participating in
an open and thoughtful discussion, I don't think that this is the class
Format of Class Meetings: Each week, at least a few of you will
be bringing in a written response of no more than 300 words to present to
the class. Usually, we will begin class by reading aloud these responses,
and from them we'll put together an agenda for that particular class. In
general, you can expect me to come in every class with 60 minutes of my
own agenda planned; in turn, I will expect you as a whole to bring in at
least 75 minutes of questions, observations, and discoveries about the
During those weeks you are not doing a response, you should bring in a
written question that you want to ask the rest of us. In particular, I
urge you to pay special attention to issues you see recurring across
multiple texts, and those points where you don't understand something in
the reading--where you've tried to find out the answer for yourself and
failed--because they are the most important for the class.
I have set up the course so that the reading load is heaviest at the
beginning of the course, and lightest at points when you will be writing
and doing your own research.
1. Three responses. During the semester, you'll write three
responses; they should respond to the reading for that week, should be
written to be read aloud, and should frame a specific agenda or set of
questions that you want us to address in that week's discussion. You
should be very clear about what aspect of what text you wish to
discuss, and about why you want to discuss it. What will we gain as a
class by discussing these particular issues and passages? What will
focusing here (as opposed to elsewhere) force us to confront that we might
not otherwise see or undersand? The responses should LESS THAN 250
words--i.e., should take no more than 90 seconds to read.
2. The Short Essay: I would like you, at any point before
July 10, to write me a 5-6 page essay (1500 words) that fulfills
the following assignment: "At some point during the semester, you will
find yourself frustrated because of the way that class discussion is
going. In that "bad" discussion, we perhaps will bog ourselves down in
issues that you do not think are important, or will misread what you see
as the key to a text. Perhaps you will raise this key issue only to find
that, for some reason, the class ignores it for some other issue. It is
very likely that in illuminating one area of the text we will make
ourselves blind to other, equally interesting, areas of the same text. Or
possibly we will fail to discuss--or gloss over superficially--an entire
section or even an entire text (possible in the case of the shorter ones).
Write an essay that responds to this class discussion and that shows your
readers another, better way of reading this text or these issues. For
example, perhaps we have failed in discussion to notice key political or
homoerotic aspects of a novel or essay; by exploring these aspects, how
does this change what the text can signify? How does it alter the meaning
that we can make out of the text? You may use discussions from the class
listserver as well for this assignment."
At any event, this assignment is designed to give you an
opportunity to intervene in our discussion--to explain at length
what you want us to see, show us how to see it, and argue
why you want us to see it. This essay should take care to (1)
describe what particular class conversation to which you are responding;
(2) show us in detail (analyze) what aspect of the text you wish to
illuminate; (3) demonstrate how your analysis illuminates some other
important aspect of the text; (4) explain how your analysis challenges the
meanings that we produced in our class discussion; (5) justify the value
of your insights.
Regarding (5), you may wish to think of the assignment in this
way: if you are going to force your readers to slog through 1500 words of
your analysis--not unlike climbing a steep hill--there'd better be a
pretty good view at the top of that hill. What does your analysis
illuminate that we couldn't see before, and why do you think that this is
ultimately an interesting or valuable thing to see?
For both this assignment and the long essay (see below), you'll
find that the critical articles that we read during the semester--and the
ones you read on your own--will be helpful as models, since critical
essays usually go about their business by addressing the requirements 1-5
that I have listed above. You may find it a good exercise to read the
critical articles for the course with an eye to this list. What problem is
a given critic re-examining? Why? How is that critic intervening in an
already-existing critical conversation?
3. The Long Essay: This should be 3500-5000 words (15 pages or
more). You should consider it to be a critical article, and you should
follow the conventions of critical articles. It is probably best to
conceptualize this essay as a longer version of the short essay (see
above), in which you are responding to an existing critical conversation
out there rather than to your classmates.
I will be looking as much for well-presented and developed
critical arguments as I will be for interesting subject matter. Therefore,
I strongly suggest that you find a critical writer whom you like and
emulate that critic's writing style and way of setting up (framing) a
problem. This is very different from plagiarizing someone's argument or
content; instead, I mean that you should study a writer or an article that
you find both persuasive and beautifully written, and try to understand
how that writer structures arguments and makes points.
COMPUTER INFORMATION: All computer aspects of this course are
optional and there for your convenience. The course syllabus is on-line in
the teaching section of my homepage (address below). My homepage has links
to a number of comprehensive literary databases, to archives of electronic
texts, and to the Oxford English Dictionary and Encyclopedia Britannica
on-line--you may find them useful.
In addition, this course will have an on-line discussion group, and
its address will be email@example.com. If you send a message
to this address, it will go to everyone in the class (including me) who
has an e-mail address. Participating on the listserv is optional, but you
may find it useful. If you have a question about the reading and you don't
want to wait until the day we meet, you could easily ask all of us on the
list. The same goes for a week that you have to miss class--send a message
and someone will update you on what we talked about.
- 1. To send a message to the listserver: "mail" a message to:
firstname.lastname@example.org. When you send a message to this address,
the entire class will be able to read it and respond to it.
- 2. To reply to a message that has been sent to you via the class
listserver: make sure that you hit "g" (it stands for "group reply")
if you want to send your reply to the entire class. Hit "r" (for "reply")
if you only want to reply to the person who sent the message. The best
thing to do is double-check whom you are sending it to.
- 3. To get to my hompage using Netscape or other browsers:
Select the "Open" icon, and then type in my www address:
http://www.english.upenn.edu/~mgamer. From there you can select
"Teaching" or whatever other materials you wish.