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

Thinking of taking this module in 2021-22?

**IMPORTANT NOTE: the readings and viewings on this module will present you with disturbing material and images, and texts that deal with traumatic situations and experiences. Texts may include references to and depictions of extreme violence (including sexual violence), abuse, trauma (mental and physical), death, murder, necrophilia, cannibalism, racist and sexist language, and racially motivated violence. If you are likely to find these topics personally difficult, and believe they will impact your learning and classroom experience, please consider this in terms of your module choice.**

The general course outline and assessment pattern will remain the same, but the syllabus will change so please don't purchase any books yet. To give you a rough idea of the reading, though, below is an outline of this year's syllabus:

1/ Candyman (dir. Bernard Rose, 1992)
2/ Edgar Allan Poe, Selected Tales. "The Masque of the Red Death"; "The Imp of the Perverse"; "William Wilson"; "The Pit and the Pendulum"; "The Black Cat"; "The Fall of the House of Usher"; "The Murders in the Rue Morgue"; "Hop-Frog"; "The Raven." .
3/ H.P. Lovecraft, stories. “Horror at Red Hook,” “Call of Cthulhu”; and "The Shadow over Innsmouth."
4/ Victor Lavalle, The Ballad of Black Tom (St. Martin's Press, 2016) and "Teddy Perkins" (episode 6, season 2) from Atlanta.
5/ James Dickey, Deliverance
6/ Emil Ferris, My Favorite Thing is Monsters
7/ William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom! (Vintage, 1936)
8/ Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
9/ Nathaniel Hawthorne, ‘Young Goodman Brown’ (1835) and The Witch (Dir. Robert Eggers, 2015)
10/ Charlotte Perkins Gilman, ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ (1892) and Carmen Maria Machado, ‘The Husband Stitch’ (2014)
11/ Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin, 1959)
12/ Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)
13/ Colson Whitehead, Zone One (Vintage, 2011) and Night of the Living Dead (Dir. George Romero, 1968)
14/ Joyce Carol Oates, Zombie (1995)
15/ Charles Burns, Black Hole (Jonathan Cape, 1995-2005) and It Follows (Dir. David Robert Mitchell, 2014)

American Horror Story has moved to Moodle.
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.


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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