Tu/W/Th 03:00-05:30 209 Dwinelle Instructor: Jordan Greenwald
Session D: July 3rd-August 11th.
This course will trace the legacy of an American genre, the horror story, from the nineteenth century to the present.
We begin with famous writers of the American Renaissance (Hawthorne, Irving, Poe) and inquire about why the horrors of Dark Romanticism are at the very roots of American literary culture. What is it about the cultural and physical landscape of nineteenth-century United States that makes it so fertile for the writing of horror? In what ways are the horrors of nineteenth-century American history (slavery, settler colonialism, empire) registered and represented in Gothic and supernatural stories, and in what ways do they remain merely “specters”? What can the horror story of the nineteenth century teach us about racial dynamics then and in the present?
We then move to the Hollywood classics of horror cinema and evaluate the horror film’s capacity to interrogate (or, at times, perpetuate) American social ills. Our task is to analyze how classic horror films represent gendered power dynamics, make manifest repressed sexual desire, lampoon cultures of consumerism and suburbanization, and examine (and/or deploy) the fear of racial, ethnic, or national Others.
In the second part of the course, we will consider the plurality of cultural histories and identities to which the horror genre gives voice. We will read fiction and watch films by Indigenous, Black, Chicano and Asian American authors and filmmakers that represent histories of immigration, displacement, discrimination, and social and economic marginalization. We will consider not only how these works respond to historical and social realities, but also how they critically retool the horror genre as a means of enriching social imaginaries.
Possible Texts Include:
Washington Irving, “The Devil and Tom Walker”
Stephen Vincent Benét, “The Devil and Daniel Webster”
Nathanial Hawthorne, “Young Goodman Brown”
Edgar Allen Poe, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (excerpts)
Merien C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, King Kong
Jacques Tourneur, I Walked with a Zombie and Cat People
H.P. Lovecraft, “The Horror at Red Hook”
George Romero, Night of the Living Dead
Tobe Hooper, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Stanley Kubrick, The Shining
Toni Morrison, Beloved
Jeff Barnaby, Rhymes for Young Ghouls
Clive Barker, Candyman
Sherman Alexie, Indian Killer (excerpts)
Guillermo del Toro, Cronos
Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior (excerpts)