Course: ENGL 2430Division: Humanities
Department: English & Philosophy
Title: Gothic and Supernatural Literature
Semester Approved: Spring 2021
Five-Year Review Semester: Fall 2025
End Semester: Fall 2026
Catalog Description: This course explores Gothic and supernatural literature, with an emphasis on horror fiction, from 1764 to the present day. Sample works include Frankenstein, Carmilla, works by Edgar Allen Poe and H. P. Lovecraft, and short stories by Stephen King. Themes that have been discussed include the sublime, sexual identity, and the nature of evil.
General Education Requirements: Humanities (HU)
Semesters Offered: TBA
Credit/Time Requirement: Credit: 3; Lecture: 3; Lab: 0
Justification: The supernatural has always been an important theme in literature, explored by many of our most respected authors, including Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, and Henry James. Modern horror is a very popular genre, both in print and on the screen. Unfortunately, very few fans know the genre's history. English 2430 gives the modern reader a chance to connect the present to the past. The course also provides a General Education opportunity to the kind of student who may feel marginalized by traditional Humanities courses.
The Humanities are a group of academic disciplines that study the many ways by which humans have attempted to understand themselves and their world. At Snow College, the Humanities focus on cultural traditions that are expressed largely through text or which have a strong textual component: languages, literature, and philosophy. The methods by which the Humanities study culture are at once analytical and interpretive, objective and subjective, historical and aesthetic.
General Education Outcomes:
1: A student who completes the GE curriculum has a fundamental knowledge of human cultures and the natural world. An important goal of English 2430 is to foster an appreciation of literature in general. After completing this course, students are prepared to recognize and enjoy literary works for intellectual as well as visceral reasons. Students read and discuss a representative selection of culturally significant texts that feature spirits, monsters, demons, vampires, inexplicable phenomena, and various forms of madness. Quizzes, writing assignments, examinations, special projects, and/or class discussions ask students to consider readings in a variety of contexts.
2: A student who completes the GE curriculum can read and research effectively within disciplines. Students read a variety of Gothic and Supernatural texts and are examined on content. Discussion questions, writing prompts, and writing assignments are designed to elicit constructive and critical responses. At the instructor's discretion, students may write one or more projects that require the acquisition of secondary materials from the Snow College Library's physical and electronic collections.
3: A student who completes the GE curriculum can draw from multiple disciplines to address complex problems. Gothic and supernatural literature invite engagement in basic understandings of a diversity of disciplines, including natural and physical science, philosophy, and history. Assignments will give students the opportunity to bring understanding from outside the class to bear on in class texts.
4: A student who completes the GE curriculum can reason analytically, critically, and creatively. Students are asked to critically evaluate rhetorical choices the author makes in order to understand and interpret the literature. Students are also asked to understand the development of ideas in Gothic and supernatural literature as reflected in representative texts. Students demonstrate their ability to read and think critically about literature, understand its context, and interpret meaning through essay exams, papers, and/or classroom discussion.
5: A student who completes the GE curriculum can communicate effectively through writing and speaking. Students write on a regular basis, demonstrating the validity of various theses in diverse writing assignments. Writing assignments are designed around the collaborative model and incorporate all elements of the writing process. Written assignments are returned with suggestions for improving the student's writing skills. Small group discussions and/or assignments require students to practice their teamwork skills.
General Education Knowledge Area Outcomes:
1: Through the study of a representative selection of Gothic and supernatural texts, students explore a variety of philosophical problems concerning human thought and experience (e.g., the sublime, sexual identity, and the nature of evil). Class discussions, essays, and essay-exams allow students to demonstrate that they can articulate ways in which authors of Gothic and supernatural literature have addressed a variety of questions; they also allow students to demonstrate that they can participate in the ongoing "conversation" about literary meaning and value. Through the study of a representative selection of Gothic and supernatural texts, students explore a variety of philosophical problems concerning human thought and experience (e.g., the sublime, sexual identity, and the nature of evil). Class discussions, essays, and essay-exams allow students to demonstrate that they can articulate ways in which authors of Gothic and supernatural literature have addressed a variety of questions; they also allow students to demonstrate that they can participate in the ongoing "conversation" about literary meaning and value.
2: Understand how knowledge is created through the study of language systems, literature, and/or philosophy. Through the practice of close reading (literary analysis), students understand how knowledge is created within the field of literature, particularly Gothic studies. Students understand how such things as history, audience, authorial choices in relation to the text, and personal biases impact the reading of a text. Students may be asked to read one or more scholarly articles that exemplify scholarship in the field. Students demonstrate their ability to read closely by writing exams and essays.
3: Understand cultural traditions within an historical context and make connections with the present. Students understand aspects of British and American culture as they have been reflected in Gothic and supernatural literature. They can discuss representative works of the genre in a historical context and articulate connections with contemporary culture. Class discussions, quizzes, and exams allow students to identify, contextualize, and explain various authors and works of Gothic and supernatural literature.
4: Critically read and respond to primary texts (original, uninterpreted) from a Humanities’ perspective. Students can read, interpret, analyze, and respond to a representative selection of primary literary texts from the Gothic/Supernatural genre. Classroom discussion, writing assignments, and exams allow students to demonstrate their ability to understand, explain, and evaluate literary texts by reflecting critically on their structure, language, and meaning.
5: Write effectively within the Humanities discipline to analyze and form critical and aesthetic judgments. Students can write interpretive and analytic essays that employ the methods of textual analysis used by scholars in the discipline. A series of writing assignments throughout the semester allow students to demonstrate this ability. They receive feedback on written work in order to improve thinking and writing skills from one assignment to the next.
Through lecture and discussion based formats, English 2430 covers a historically representative selection of culturally significant works that feature spirits, monsters, demons, vampires, inexplicable phenomena, and various forms of madness. The course focuses on close reading, literary conventions, historical influences, contextual and textual analysis, interpretation, synthesis, critical thinking, and writing. As a genre that exists in a liminal space in literary traditions, Gothic and supernatural literature are well positioned to engage with minority issues. These issues include sexuality and gender identity, race relations, and others who exist on the fringes of their society.
Key Performance Indicators:
Class Participation 0 to 15%
Quizzes 0 to 20%
Exams 0 to 50%
Writing assignments and special projects 30 to 80%
Representative Text and/or Supplies:
English 2430 covers a historically representative selection of culturally significant works, including whole works or excerpts by 5-10 of the following authors. Work by other authors (including nonfiction, scholarly work, and film) may be added at the instructor's discretion.
Horace Walpole: The Castle of Otranto
Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho
Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey
Matthew Gregory Lewis: The Monk
Mary Shelley: Frankenstein
Edgar Allan Poe: "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Tell-Tale Heart," etc.
James Malcolm Rhymer: Varney the Vampyre
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu: "Carmilla," "Green Tea," etc.
Robert Louis Stevenson: Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Henry James: The Turn of the Screw
Bram Stoker: Dracula
H.P. Lovecraft: "The Dunwich Horror," "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," etc.
Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House
Richard Matheson: "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," I Am Legend, etc.
Ray Bradbury: Something Wicked This Way Comes
William Peter Blatty: The Exorcist
Stephen King: "Jerusalem's Lot," The Shining, etc.
Peter Straub: Ghost Story, Mr. X., etc.
Robert R. McCammon: Usher's Passing, Boy's Life, etc.
Tim Powers: The Anubis Gates, The Stress of Her Regard, etc.
There are a range of pedagogical concerns for the class. Course content will be delivered through short lectures, class discussions, and writing assignments to ensure an engaged and interactive classroom. Some form of accountability for reading should be established: reading quizzes, discussion boards, bell work, etc. The course should also build to a signature assignment that will allow students to demonstrate their learning related to the HU GE outcomes. Exams can have some focus on recall and content but should also be opportunities for critical thinking and synthesis of concepts across literary texts. The course content will endeavor to reflect the value of diversity. Furthermore, students are prepped to engage with the material, their first encounter with the literature occurs outside of the classroom, and class time employs differentiated and inclusive learning techniques, including discussion in varying formats, freewriting and pairing, group discussion, class discussion, group feedback on writing. The professor functions as a guide, asking students to engage with the literature and historical moments as they move from initial impressions to informed analysis, close reading, interpretation, and critical thinking.
Maximum Class Size: 30
Optimum Class Size: 20