English 232, Spring 2015
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January — February
— March — April
Office: (973) 353-5204; 531 Hill Hall.
Hours: Monday and Wednesday,
11:30–1:00, and by appointment (appointments are best).
Home: (609) 882-4642 (before 10:00
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (the
best way to reach me).
Course Description and Goals
This course surveys the Gothic literature of horror and terror
from its eighteenth-century origins to the present. Topics of
discussion will include the feminist Gothic, queer Gothic,
Southern Gothic, the sublime, and modern Goth culture.
By semester's end, students should:
- understand the broad contours of the tradition stretching
from the Goths of late antiquity through modern Goth culture;
- be able to speak and write about Gothic texts with precision,
using a critical vocabulary including the sublime,
the uncanny, horror, terror, the
uncanny, the female Gothic, the queer
Gothic, and Southern Gothic; and
- understand contemporary Gothic culture with increased
This course meets the college's core curriculum requirement
- Online Quizzes
- You'll have to take regular short quizzes on Blackboard to
show you're keeping up with the reading. You'll have fifteen
minutes to answer three multiple-choice questions about the most
recent readings. All questions will be straightforward factual
questions about the readings themselves — nothing about the
authors, the historical contexts, and so on. If you've read the
book, the quizzes should be easy. Each quiz will be available
at least one full week before the due date, and will be
open until the starting time of the class period on which they're
due. You can do them at any time in that week, but each quiz must
be completed in one session of no more than fifteen minutes; you
can't start and stop. You may not consult the readings
or cooperate with other students during a quiz. There are no
make-up quizzes, so be sure to budget your time.
- Written Assignments
- There will be two argumentative papers, the first of around
1,500 words (six pages), the second of around 2,000 words (eight
pages). I also want to see a provisional draft of three thesis
statements before the first paper is due. I'll explain all of
these in class as they get closer. Everything should be typed and
submitted in hard copy. My (still-incomplete) guide to my expectations
on English papers is available online. A significant part of
your grade will depend on your writing skills; even though this
class is open to everyone, you might reconsider taking a
literature class if you haven't yet taken, or at least started
taking, English Composition 101.
- Final Exam
- There will be a short final exam, featuring identification,
close reading, and short essays. I'll discuss this in class as
the end of the semester approaches.
- University students are grownups; I understand that life
sometimes gets busy. Almost any excuse, therefore, given in
advance (in person, by phone, or by E-mail), will receive my
blessing. Absences not excused in advance will be frowned upon,
and your final grade will be lowered by half a grade (A
to B+, B+ to B, and so on) for each unexcused absence. Students
will initial an attendance sheet every class. (Multiple copies of
the sheet will be going around; you need to mark only one of
them.) The same policy applies to late assignments: I'll grant
extensions, but only if you talk to me before the due
- Class Participation
- Even though the class is large, regular and active class
participation is essential. I've worked to keep the readings
manageable and affordable, but you have to hold up your end of
the bargain by doing the readings every day and participating in
the discussions. I also expect the following in all classes:
- Maturity in discussions. The material in the class will
sometimes be offensive: there's sex, incest, sexual violence,
profanity, trauma, and insults directed at several religions.
Remember that discussing these things isn't the same as endorsing
- On-time arrival. A few minutes into the class I'll collect
the attendance sheets; late arrivals won't be able to sign in,
and will be counted as absent.
- Electronic devices of whatever sort — laptops, tablets,
e-books, and so on — can be used only for class-related
purposes. No Facebook, no e-mailing, no nothin' else.
- No texting, ever. (This does not constitute cruel
and unusual punishment under the U.S. Constitution or the Geneva
Conventions; I checked.)
- No disruptive talking during class.
- Plagiarism and Academic Integrity
- It should go without saying, but all work in this
class must be your own. Students are responsible for knowing and
abiding by the Rutgers
Academic Integrity Policy. I used to be much more laid back
about this, but no longer: I will report every
violation. If you have even an inkling of a doubt about what's
legitimate or how to cite something, see me before handing in the
- Of course I'll provide all necessary accommodations for
properly documented disabilities. Get in touch with Disability
Services for details on the procedures.
- The following books are available from New Jersey Books and
the Rutgers Bookstore:
- Three Gothic Novels: The Castle of Otranto; Vathek;
Frankenstein (Penguin), ISBN: 978-0140430363;
- Matthew Lewis, The Monk (Oxford), ISBN:
- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (Dover),
- Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll
and Mr. Hyde (Dover), ISBN: 978-0486266886;
- Bram Stoker, Dracula (Oxford), ISBN:
- Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood (Farrar, Straus
and Giroux), ISBN: 978-0374530631
I understand that books are expensive, and have chosen
the most affordable reliable edition of each work. Classroom
discussion is easier if we all use the same editions, but if you
own the works in other editions, or if you can get cheap
secondhand copies, you needn't buy new ones.
(Acceptable substitutes: other editions, e-books, and
audiobooks. Unacceptable substitutes: movies, SparkNotes.)
The remainder of the readings are available through
Blackboard; The Shining will be available through
Blackboard and the library's swank. I've
made many of the longer readings available online as well, though
you may not want to read a full-length novel on a
- This breakdown shows the starting point for my grading:
I don't believe in penalizing students for not being proficient
in writing English papers before they've had an English class, so
I'll evaluate your performance over the course of the whole
semester before I submit a final grade. If an early lapse is
compensated for by better performance later in the semester, I'm
happy to ignore a bad grade on an assignment. My usual approach
is to examine all the marks and to ask what is the highest grade
I can give in good conscience. After I finish wrestling with my
conscience, though, grades are final, and I'll change a
grade only if I made an error in calculation. If you're concerned
about your performance, talk to me before you hand
something in, not after you get the grade. I'm always happy to
look at provisional theses, rough drafts, and so on.
- Online Quizzes: 3% × 8 = 24%
- First paper: 20%
- Final paper: 25%
- Exam: 25%
- Participation: 6%
of Class Meetings
- Wed., 21 Jan.
- Class business, etc.: a history of the term
Gothic, with an overview of the genre and the
- Mon., 26 Jan.
- Horace Walpole, The
Castle of Otranto (1764): the first work of Gothic
fiction. We'll discuss the relationship between the newly
conceived realistic novel and the older tradition of
- Wed., 28 Jan.
- Walpole, The Castle of Otranto, including the
prefaces to the first two editions. Online Quiz on
- Mon., 2 Feb.
- William Beckford, Vathek
(1782–87): an Oriental tale with Gothic elements.
Discussion will focus on the notion of the “other,”
and the place of queer sexualities in the history of English
- Wed., 4 Feb.
- Beckford, Vathek. Online Quiz on
Mon., 9 Feb.
Matthew Lewis, The
Monk (1796), vol. 1: An over-the-top work that
combines “horror” with “terror.” We'll
continue the discussion of the “other” and queer
sexuality, and introduce the idea of the sublime.
Wed., 11 Feb.
Lewis, The Monk, vol. 2.
Mon., 16 Feb.
Lewis, The Monk, vol. 3. Online Quiz on
Wed., 18 Feb.
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
(1818), vol. 1: the source of an enduring Gothic legend. We'll
discuss the interactions between science fiction and
the Gothic tradition.
Mon., 23 Feb.
Shelley, Frankenstein, vol. 2. Three
Provisional Thesis Statements Due.
Wed., 25 Feb.
Shelley, Frankenstein, vol. 3; Polidori,
Vampyre” (1819): the first literary vampire story to be
published. We'll begin discussion of the
“psychologization” of the Gothic. Online Quiz
Mon., 2 March
Edgar Allan Poe, “Ligeia”
Fall of the House of Usher” (1839), “The
Masque of the Red Death” (1842), “The
Black Cat” (1843), “The
Tell-Tale Heart” (1843), and “The
Cask of Amontillado” (1846): a collection of short
stories from nineteenth-century America's greatest Gothic writer.
We'll continue discussing the psychological Gothic.
Wed., 4 March
Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Young
Goodman Brown” (1835), “The
Minister's Black Veil” (1836), and “Rappaccini's
Daughter” (1844): a self-conscious attempt to revive
the old romance genre in the age of the realistic novel, with
extensive use of allegory. Again, the discussion will focus on
psychology as understood in the nineteenth century. First
- Mon., 9 March
- Robert Louis Stevenson, The
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886):
another enduring legend. We'll approach the text as the
archetypal version of the Gothic double.
- Wed., 11 March
- Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde. Online Quiz on Dr.
- Mon., 16 March
- No Class: Spring Break.
- Wed., 18 March
- No Class: Spring Break.
- Mon., 23 March
- Oscar Wilde, The
Picture of Dorian Gray (1890): an exploration of the
double from a new angle. We'll focus on the notion of the
- Wed., 25 March
- Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Online Quiz on Dorian Gray.
- Mon., 30 March
- Bram Stoker, Dracula
(1897): the most famous horror novel in English. We'll look at
gender roles and sexuality in the late-Victorian novel, as well
as the mediating role played by technology.
- Wed., 1 April
- Stoker, Dracula.
- Mon., 6 April
- Stoker, Dracula.
- Wed., 8 April
- Stoker, Dracula. Online Quiz on
- Mon., 13 April
- Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The
Yellow Wallpaper” (1892): a psychological tale that
puts Gothic elements to explicitly feminist ends. This will give
us an opportunity to look back on the tradition of feminist
- Wed., 15 April
- Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood (1952): a
prominent example of “Southern Gothic.” We'll explore
the ways the notion of the “other” assumes new forms
in the twentieth-century American South.
- Mon., 20 April
- O'Connor, Wise Blood.
- Wed., 22 April
- O'Connor, Wise Blood. Online Quiz on
- Mon., 27 April
- Stanley Kubrick (adapting Stephen King), The
Shining: a film based on a novel by the most successful
modern Gothic writer. As semester's end approaches, we'll look
back and hope to understand both the continuities and the
disruptions over the two centuries covered on the syllabus.
- Wed., 29 April
- The Shining.
- Mon., 4 May
- Gothic in popular culture: video clips (to be determined,
based on suggestions from the class). Final Paper