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EN2H2/EN3H2 American Horror Story: U.S. Gothic Cultures, 1790-Present

American Horror Story syllabus and all other materials has moved to Moodle.
Please go to this page (made public by end of this week).

Tutors: Prof. Stephen Shapiro and Dr. Mark Storey

Is American Horror a tautology? Does the notion of an American Dream not inescapably contain its reverse, a nation created from the ooze of slavery, the genocide of Indigenous Peoples, the bound, coerced labor of ethnic immigrants, and the control of women and non-heterosexual bodies? This module scrapes the surface of U.S. life to biopsy its gothic, nightmarish, and abject culture. Through a long historical view, you will encounter figures both fantastical and real – zombies and ghosts, witches and vampires, the socially taboo and the culturally wretched – and through them explore the political and subjective dimensions of a generic mode that in one way or another has been a dominant strain of American culture since its founding. Anchored in a wide range of readings and viewings (fiction and film, as well as theoretical and sociological writing) our discussions will centre on the ways in which gothic culture registers, indexes, and makes cathartically manifest the otherwise sublimated and repressed realities of existence in a post-Enlightenment republic and global economic superpower – from the contradictions of U.S. racecraft and heteronormativity, through the struggles of economic life and social mobility, to the intimacies and fleshy materialities of the biopolitical body.

**Important note: some of the readings and viewings on this module will present you with disturbing material and images, and texts that deal with traumatic situations and experiences. If you are likely to find these topics personally difficult, or are easily put off by such material, please consider taking a different module.**


The syllabus for 2020-21 can be viewed here.

Intermediate years:
  • 1st 3000-word essay, due in week 1 of term 2 (40%) Questions and guidelines can be downloaded from the moodle page.
  • Citation/bibliographic exercise, due in week 10 of term 2 (20%). More information here.
  • 2nd 3000-word essay, due in term 3 (40%) Questions on the Forum
  • 1st 4000-word essay, due in week 1 of term 2 (40%) Questions and guidelines can be downloaded from the moodle page.
  • Group video essay, due in week 10 of term 2 (20%)
  • 2nd 4000-word essay, due in term 3 (40%) Questions and guidelines can be downloaded from the moodle page.

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