Monsters, demons, and other similar ghouls often serve as powerful metaphorical manifestations of social, political, or psychic tensions; as such, they play a key role in numerous literary, cinematic, and other artistic works. In this class, we will be looking at various representations of the monstrous and the demonic in an attempt to better understand what it is, precisely, that they give us: what kinds of ideas do these figures bring to light, and how can they help us refine our own critical thinking? For example, in addition to possessing immense satirical potential, monstrous or demonic figures often allow for an exploration — and transgression — of boundaries, whether it is through the idea of demonic possession or in the form of the age-old fantasy of the human/animal hybrid. Such questions will lay the groundwork for thinking about the monstrous and the demonic through (and with) works by such authors as Nikolai Gogol and Franz Kafka, as well as horror films, including Rosemary’s Baby and It Follows.
This course satisfies the University’s R/C requirement and is designed, above all, to help students improve their critical reading and writing skills. In addition to regular essay assignments—including frequent revisions—students will also learn how to conduct scholarly research and to incorporate this research into their argumentative compositions.