Faculty Course Description
ENG 201 Topics in Literature: American Gothic
Instructor: Chris Diller
Office: Evans 233
Office Phone: (706) 238-5877
ENG 201 American Gothic Syllabus
Introduction to Literature 3-0-3. Introduction to the appreciation of literature and to the basic terms and methods of literary analysis. Not credited toward requirements of the English major or minor. PR or CR: ENG 102.
Ever wonder why those candles flicker in your favorite horror movie? Or what it might feel like to be buried alive? Or why there is just a little too much attraction in the thought of falling off the edge of a high place? Not to worry: this section of English 201 will answer these and other questions about the Gothic in American literature (and painting and film and comics). Whether set in a castle, a house, or Gotham City itself, the Gothic has been a flexible literary tradition that questions easy assumptions about the nature of identity, the boundaries of sanity and insanity, and our relation to the supernatural. If early on the Gothic was associated with dungeons, secret passageways, graveyards, and ghosts, it also became a surprisingly powerful tool for analyzing repressed fears and desires related to the unknown, the monstrous, slavery, savagery, sexuality, and evil. Our primary goal, then, will be to get underneath the skin, so to speak, of contemporary and historical gothic conventions to explore their psychological and cultural work.
Upon completion of the course, students should be able to:
1. Understand the central formal features of literature—point of view, setting, imagery, etc—and how to use these to perform rhetorical/literary analysis
2. Understand the central concepts, conventions, themes, and tropes of the literary Gothic
3. Appreciate how specific writers employed all of these to probe historical, psychological, or social anxieties related to particular issues (like slavery)
General Education Goals
1. Fostering analytical reasoning
2. Fostering appreciation of artistic excellence
3. Fostering historical consciousness