Skip to main content

EN391 American Horror Story: U.S. Gothic Cultures, 1790-Present

Tutors: Prof. Stephen Shapiro (term 1) and Dr. Mark Storey (term 2)

It is anticipated that this module will be taught on Wednesday mornings. The syllabus can be viewed here.

Is America 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. If you are likely to find this difficult, or are easily put off by such material, we strongly urge that you carefully consider whether this is a suitable module for you to choose.**


The syllabus for 2018-19 can be viewed here.


Two x 4000-word essays (90%) plus a Group Video Project (10%)

Deadlines are still being finalised, but the first essay will be due at the start of term 2 (ie. in January), the Group Video Project will be due at the end of term 2, and the second essay will be due near the beginning of term 3.

ghost 1eyepoe skull