From Frankenstein and Dracula to World War Z and Slenderman: join Dr. John Savarese this fall for “Gothic Monsters,” a study of monstrosity, fear, terror, and horror in the gothic mode from its origins to the present (Tuesday/Thursday 11:30 – 12:50).
Among other questions, this term the course will ask: What cultural and intellectual work do our monsters do for us? Why do scary s tories give pleasure ? W hy did stories of religious superstition and ghostly hauntings take on new power in and after the “Age of Enlightenment , ” and how do today’s terrors bear the marks of that history ? We will first survey the foundations of the gothic mode and two of its most canonical monsters — Mary Shelley’s patchwork of living tissues and Bram Stoker’s synthesis of vampire traditions . We will then use the zombie as a test case a) in monsters and their variations ( how does the zombie relate to other “undead” monsters, and why is the reanimated corpse so persistent a trope ? ) and b) the migration of genres (to what degree are zombie horror fictions “gothic” in any meaningful sense)? Alongside the zombie, we will also examine the gothic’s divergent paths in weird fiction, horror film, music and fashion subcultures, and the murkier regions of the internet.
Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (the 1818 text)
Bram Stoker, Dracula
Max Brookes, World War Z
Note : You may procure any complete and unabridged edition of the above texts , so long as the edition of Shelley uses the 1818 text (which was subsequently heavily revised) .
Available on LEARN (Courepack)
Jeffrey Cohen, “Monster Culture: Seven Theses”
Excerpts on the Sublime, Terror, and Horror ( Baldick; Burke; Ann.; Radcliffe; King)
Theoretical readings: Sigmund Freud, from “The Uncanny;” Julia Kristeva, from Powers of Horror; Susan Sontag, from “Notes on Camp;” Bakhtin, from Rabelais and His World
Fiction selections: Rice, Lovecraft
Frankenstein (1910 film , recommended but not required viewing)
Bauhaus, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” (1979 song)
“From Gothic to Goth” ( Youtube playlist)
Night of the Living Dead (1968 film )
Know Your Meme: Slenderman
Pictured: a young Bram Stoker