COMPLIT 241 - Topics in Comparative Literature
Section: 003 The Horror!
Term: WN 2009
Subject: Comparative Literature (COMPLIT)
Department: LSA Comparative Literature
Requirements & Distribution:
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Advisory Prerequisites:
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May not be repeated for credit.
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“The Horror!”: Writing and theorizing supernatural stories In the late 18th century, a group of British writers “began” a genre that would become the most recognizable and one of the most popular and enduring genres in literature: the horror story. These writers drew on an eclectic range of literatures and traditions—from German folk tales to the Bible to philosophical aesthetics—to build up a series of conventions that other writers quickly co-opted to write their own stories and novels. The “horror” aspects of their work, then as now, immediately ignited controversy over such issues as the role of the supernatural in a rational culture, (excessive) violence in fiction, fetishism of primitive or pre-modern cultures, and the use of plots with wild, unexplained events.

In this course, we will be looking at a wide historical and stylistic range of stories, tales, parts of novels, and films that fall within the range of the horror genre, plus some criticism and theorizing about the genre. Throughout the semester, students will work on two sorts of projects. First, each student will be required to work continuously on his or her own theory of horror. This will involve, on one hand, paying attention to literary ideas such as the overall conventions and common elements of the genre as well as differences among horror works due to differing styles and historical contexts of various authors; and, on the other hand, thought about why horror is effective, how it produces its characteristic reactions, moods, and sensations, and why these are seen as pleasurable and interesting. Each student will keep a journal throughout the semester to help build up his or her theory, adding notes on every literary work read (or film watched) in class and directly engaging with the theoretical texts. Students will write a 4-5 page paper on a particular literary work viewed through theoretical lenses, and, towards the end of the semester, will also write up their general theories of horror into an 8-10 page paper.

The second project is creative: students will make use of horror conventions to write their own horror stories. There will be a steady stream of small creative assignments during the semester preparing students for a final project (a set of short stories, a screenplay, or another narrative form, along with a critical reflection on the process of creating it).

There are no prerequisites, but interest in literature, cultural history, or creative writing would be very useful. Texts include Macbeth, Frankenstein, and the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” as well as stories by Radcliffe, Hawthorne, Kafka, HP Lovecraft and many others. Films will include Nosferatu, Suspiria, and Mulholland Drive, and criticism will be from authors such as Poe and Slavoj Zizek.

COMPLIT 241 - Topics in Comparative Literature
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
2LSA Hnrs
MWF 10:00AM - 11:00AM
002 (SEM)
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
003 (SEM)
MWF 12:00PM - 1:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 0393964582
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein : the 1818 text, contexts, nineteenth-century responses, modern criticism, Author: edited by J. Paul Hunter., Publisher: W.W. Norton 1st ed. 1996
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