E 379S • Senior Seminar
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
E 324 (Topic 2: The Gothic Imagination) may not also be counted.
The title of this course refers to a set of literary, historical, and cultural elements that, in the mid-eighteenth century, combined to produce a style of art and writing focused on areas of human experience that have always seemed to remain outside the range of the normal, the realistic, the conventional. As writers more and more began to explore the human unconscious, human sexuality, and the blind forces both of nature and culture, they devised a specific literary form to express what they were feeling and perceiving. We will study a series of both classic and popular literary texts, as well as art in other forms (such as painting and film) in order to understand their discoveries, their anxieties, and their creativity. A fundamental aspect of this course will be the nature of the relationship that Gothic artists attempted to form with their audience. How could readers be drawn into the dark areas they explored? How could they serve both art and anxiety? How could the boundary of the fearful be established (and, in a certain sense, policed)? What dangers in the conventions of social experience were exposed to readers when they participated in the exploration of the Gothic?
The course will proceed by discussion, some of it in the form of organized panels that will consider some key topics in Gothic art and literature. We will also, of course, pay a lot of attention to the writing of persuasive critical essays.
2 papers, 6-7 pages each 60%
Panel discussion & report (4 pages) 30%
Seminar participation 10%
Chris Baldick, ed,. Gothic Tales
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Edgar Allen Poe, Great Short Works
Matthew Lewis, The Monk
Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
Joyce Carol Oates, Short Stories
Nathaniel West, The Day of the Locust
Course Booklet readings in Burke, Coleridge, Darwin, Wm. James, Freud, etc.