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Georgetown University


Detailed Course Information


Fall 2017
Jan 19, 2018
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ENGL 159 - American Gothic Fiction
In this course we will explore the haunted houses and woods of the American imagination. Through our study of mid-19th-Century American Gothic writers, we will engage the persistent question of why a country that values clarity, freedom, religious purity, inclusion, and progress, produces literature so often characterized by darkness, claustrophobia, insanity, monstrosity, and haunting. Specifically, we will look at dialogues between the American dream and madness, between “normal” communities and maniacal individuals, between “The City on the Hill” and the “wilderness” beneath. Then, as we move into the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, we will focus on specific contexts of Gothic fiction—namely, the female Gothic, African-American Gothic, urban Gothic, and southern Gothic—and we will consider what these novels and short stories reveal about alternative narratives (especially narratives of otherness) that confront the dominant story of a “self-evident” culture founded on equality. Among many questions we will address: What is the relationship between the distinctly interior notion of America as an idea (a dream) and the psychological nightmares expressed in many of these texts? What are the distinct forms of dominant culture paranoia that issue from nature spaces and urban spaces? Why might the American South be a repository for the Gothic and the grotesque? Students will contribute weekly short responses to a class discussion forum, will lead a class discussion on a relevant presentation topic, and will write a midterm paper and a final paper. Major works to be discussed include, but are not limited to: Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown and Other Tales, Poe’s Great Tales and Poems, Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener,” Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Hopkins’ Of One Blood, Wright’s Native Son, O’Connor’s Selected Short Stories, and Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House.

3.000 Credit hours
3.000 Lecture hours
0.000 Lab hours

Levels: Undergraduate
Schedule Types: Lecture

English Department

Course Attributes:
HALC - Hum, Art, Lit, Cul

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