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Dr. Susan Sage Heinzelman, Director 2505 University Avenue, A4900, Burdine Hall 536, Austin Texas 78712 • 512-471-5765

Spring 2009

WGS 345 • Lit/Film: Gender/Realism/Gothic

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
47930 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
MEZ 2.124

Course Description

This course will focus on eruptions of gothic elementsespecially those associated with genderinto the quotidian world of realist narrative. We will ask, which characters, plot elements, and settings are coded as "gothic"? What are the aesthetic, cultural, and ideological effects of these gothic motifs? In addition to the lens supplied by gender studies, we will draw on genre studies, literary history, psychoanalysis, and film theory to enrich our close readings of the literary and filmic texts on our syllabus.

The course will be organized around thematic units based on four gothic elementsthe heroine in peril, the patriarchal villain, the hero and his double, and the menacing mansioneach featuring one or two literary works and an Alfred Hitchcock film. After introducing the gothic genre, we will turn to Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey. Austen appropriates key ingredients of the gothic novel (the most popular genre of Austen's day) and recasts them within the context of 19th-century realism. Numerous films directed by Alfred Hitchcock employ a related strategy, inviting gothic horror and suspense into familiar situations and spaces (most famously, a certain motel bathroom). Throughout the term, we will examine and compare how literary and cinematic texts introduce gothic elements into the staple plotlines and settings of the realist tradition: romance, class and status, marriage, family, and home.


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