Two Centuries of Horror Literature in English, 1818-2015
Fall 2015, TR 5-6:15 @ Greenlaw 301
Instructor: Doreen Thierauf
E-Mail: thierauf (at) unc (dot) edu
Office and Hours: Swain 212; office hours Thursdays 3-5, and by appointment
Course website: horrors.web.unc.edu (UNC login required due to copyright restrictions)
In this course we will explore horror, one of the most enduring and provocative literary genres. We will read and discuss a wide—but by no means comprehensive—range of horror texts in order to examine their themes, conventions, formal structures, and historical contexts. Additionally, this class allows you to further develop your writing skills in a series of written assignments that lead up to a substantial research paper at the end of the semester. This assignment will enhance your ability to think critically, argue persuasively, and write vigorous prose that adheres to conventional standards of grammar and usage.
Throughout the semester, we will have an ongoing conversation about the problems (and pleasures) of defining a genre that attracts as much as it repels. For more than 200 years, horror has been a rich and flexible medium for addressing many usually taboo issues, such as death, sex and reproduction, madness, the body under duress, as well as what it means to be human—and what lies beyond. In keeping with the genre’s breadth, you will be encouraged to draw connections between the works on our reading list and other examples from the genre, whether they be other literary texts or different media types such as films, comic books, or games. It should be noted that there are no fairy-tale happy endings in this course, so be warned that some, if not all, of these texts can leave you frustrated, dismayed or, ideally, scared.
READINGS, QUIZZES, AND SHORT RESPONSES
You should complete the assigned reading before each class. Please bring the day’s assigned text to class with you. Please note that all of our texts—four novels, two novellas, almost two dozen short stories, and a wide range of additional materials that we will read within less than 15 weeks—are fairly substantial. Hence, the reading assignments for our class will require much time and attention. You will find that the more time you put into reading and thinking about the assigned texts, the more rewarding and pleasurable they will be. If your schedule this semester prevents you from spending the necessary time on the readings, assignments, and class meetings, you should consider signing up for a different class instead.
Please refer to the semester schedule below. It notifies you ahead of time of the specific number of pages to be read before the next class meeting. Reading ahead of schedule is encouraged; just be careful not to spoil any plot details for those of us sticking to schedule. There will be ten (or more) unannounced reading quizzes or short responses throughout the semester to make sure everyone is keeping up with the reading. These quizzes will contribute 20% to your final grade (i.e. 2% per quiz) and cannot be made up.
I have posted a separate guide for your research project, but here are the facts: You will choose a text from our readings to work with, come up with a research topic that interests you (instructor’s approval required), and write 8-10 page research paper about that topic. In order to ensure that you work on this paper continuously and won’t resort to last-minute binge-writing on the night before the final deadline (which tends to result in low-quality work), there will be several smaller deadlines. I encourage you to see me regularly after class or during my office hours to chat with me about your paper ideas and your thinking about the texts that interest you most.
You will have a 75-minute midterm exam and a longer, 2-hour final exam. The midterm exam will cover all readings assigned up to that point, and the final exam will cover the entire semester. These exams will involve a combination of identifications, short essay answers, and/or extended responses to quotations or thematic prompts.
GRADE DISTRIBUTION AND ASSIGNMENTS
1. Leading an in-class discussion (10%)
Select one of the available time slots for leading class discussion. The purpose of leading a discussion is three-fold:
All presentations will be peer-graded according to a pre-defined rubric by five students.
2. Participation (includes attendance and in-class participation in discussions, group work, etc.) (10%)
3. Quizzes and responses (20%)
10 quizzes/responses assigned randomly at 2pts each, cannot be missed or made up.
4. Research paper (8-10 pages) (25%)
Send me your paper idea (one or two paragraphs) before class starts on October 22 via email.
5. Midterm exam (15%)
Thursday, October 1, 5-6:15pm. Please bring one book to the exam.
6. Final exam (20%)
Tuesday, December 8, 4-7pm. Please bring two blue books to the exam.
PLAGIARISM AND HONOR CODE
All work that you submit for this class is subject to the rules of Carolina’s Honor Code. This includes papers, exams, and short responses. Anytime you quote, paraphrase, borrow, or reproduce text or ideas that are not yours, you must document and attribute each source correctly according to MLA style (an easy online tutorial for MLA can be found on the UNC library website). You will have committed plagiarism if you reproduce someone else’s work or ideas without acknowledging the source (i.e. citing)—whether or not your intention was to plagiarize. If you have questions about how or whether something needs to be cited and you have exhausted your resources independently, check with me before submitting your work. I am obligated to report any infringement of the Honor Code (cheating, plagiarism, etc.) to the University. Any instance of plagiarism or cheating will result in an automatic F for that assignment and, in most cases, for the course as well. For more information, consult UNC’s website on the Honor Code and the Writing Center’s handout on plagiarism.
Weeks 1-3: Gothic Amalgamations
Week 4: The Yellow Nineties
Weeks 5-6: Fin-de-Siècle Vampires
Week 7: A Ghost Story
Week 8: Post-War Horrors
Week 8, Cont’d: Southern Anti-Fairy Tales
Weeks 9-10: Psychological Horror
Weeks 11-13: Stephen King's American Horror
Weeks 13-15: Aliens and Media Futures