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:


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, Penguin).
--Charlotte Dacre, Zofloya (1806), ed. Adriana Craciun (Broadview Press, 1997).
--Ellen Fein and Sherry Schneider, The Rules (Warner Books, 1995).
--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 (1897).
--Horace Walpole, Castle of Otranto (1764).


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."
--Peter Gay, "The Enlightenment in Its World" from The Enlightenment: An Interpretation (Norton, 1966).
--David Hume, "On Superstition and Enthusiasm", and "Of Tragedy."
--Immanuel Kant, "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 Picturesque.
--Clara Reeve, Preface to the 2nd edition of The Old English Baron (1778).
--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.



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.


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 correct.

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 Stone, "Sex, Money, and Murder in Eighteenth-Century England." For general information on Wollstonecraft, read the biographical essay in your edition as well.

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.


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.


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 for you.

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 reading.

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 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.