online syllabus:


 electronic reserves: (gothic)

halle library website:

literature databases: indexdesubject.php


~ schedule ~



The Gothic Novel: Studies in Literature and Culture
Women’s Studies 479 — Literature 480

summer 2005


Dr. Abby Coykendall

Office Phone: (734) 487-0147

Office Location: Pray-Harrold Hall 603G
Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday 10-12:00

~ or email for an appointment ~


Section 42134 (WMST) & 41717 (Litr)
TUESDAY & Thursday 1:00-3:40 pm
Pray-Harrold Hall 308




Literature 480: Studies in Literature and Culture

The Gothic Novel: Specters of Modernity

In this class, we are going to look at how gothic novels articulate that which escapes unnoticed from “rational,” science-driven accounts of experience.  If only that which is understandable and registerable frames how we perceive ourselves and our culture, then why do literature and cinema return, with so haunting a vengeance, to remind us of such bigger-than-life incongruities, “perversions,” and terrors?  Whether producing horror flicks or romantic comedies, the print and film industries seek to appeal universally to the desires of everyone.  But who is this hypothetical “everyone”?  And in what ways do books or films reflect “their” desires?  Before cinema, gothic novels were the mainstay of popular culture.  Mass-produced and widely distributed, the gothic was the foremost medium used to mirror, and to escape from, everyday life.  With attentive reading, however, we will see that the gothic novel, often considered an in-house murder mystery or sensationalized horror tale at best, can serve as a thinly disguised barometer of cultural conflict, especially once taken in its material and historical contexts. 


The primary objective of the course is to investigate how the gothic genre transforms over time in relation to changing perceptions of modernity, beginning with the eighteenth-century origins of the gothic and continuing with its most famous nineteenth-century manifestation: Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  We will conclude by investigating a contemporary American novel — Toni Morrison’s Beloved — which will offer a fruitful juxtaposition with the other novels in terms of race, class, and gender, especially once we become conversant in the conventions of the genre as a whole.  We will also cover some select films in order to understand how the gothic operates as a cultural product, both imitating and informing the cultural imagination at large. 


Texts and Materials

The following books are available at Ned’s bookstore (; 483-6400; 707 W. Cross St.), although additional copies may be available at other EMU bookstores:


v       Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, Ed. Johanna M Smith (Bedford 2000; ISBN 031219126X)

v       Bram Stoker, Dracula, Ed. John Paul Riquelme (Bedford 2001; ISBN 0312241704)

v       Toni Morrison, Beloved (Vintage 2004; ISBN 1400033411)

Make sure to get the same editions pictured above even if you purchase the books online, where they may be significantly less expensive; otherwise, the differing page numbers will make it difficult, if not impossible, for you to follow along with class discussions.  The most reliable way to get the correct edition is to search by ISBN number, a unique fingerprint for the book.


Some of the required readings are located online in the Halle library’s Electronic Reserves:  It is best to print out the Electronic Reserve materials in advance from the multimedia computers on the first floor of the Halle library.  These computers are more likely to open the files (and to open them quickly) than your own computer, and printing the materials from that location will be entirely free.  Technicians are also nearby should you encounter any kind of problem.



Nothing is more vital for success in this class than keeping up with, and actively engaging in, the reading assignments, collaborative groupwork, and class discussions.  Make sure to bring a copy of each text that we will be discussing to class.  You will have to have read the assigned material, and have it on hand, when you work together with your peers.  For most university courses, the homework takes around two hours for every unit of class, or in other words, six hours per week; for this condensed version of the course, however, that same proportion translates to twelve hours per week.  Although the various assignments and readings for this course will not take quite so long as that, since I have cut down the reading significantly (dropping two novels entirely), you can still expect to spend more time each week completing the assignments for this course than you would for those offered during the regular term. 

Writing Assignments

There will be a significant number of writing assignments: intermittent but informal responses, two essay exams, and a short but polished critical essay.  The primary difference between the responses and the essays is that with the responses, the mechanical elements of writing do not matter in the least, and the goal is to freely and openly express ideas; whereas, with the essays, the mechanical elements of writing must be attended to very thoroughly and the goal is to defend a focused argument clearly, coherently, and persuasively.  The final research paper will be a comparison-contrast essay on Beloved and a gothic novel or film covered in the class, or on Beloved and another gothic novel or film of your own selection, supposing that you talk with me and get permission in advance.  See the Suggested Novels, Short Stories, or Films online.

Critical Thinking / Essay Examinations

In order to encourage critical thinking about the material, the exams will be question driven as well.  Although there will be some true-false questions to ensure that you have read (and can recollect) the material (worth 15%), as well as a few short-answer questions on particular points of interest raised during the section (worth 20%), the bulk of the exam will consist of an essay question on a particular topic of your own choosing (worth 65%), a topic that you will have identified on your own in advance.  In effect, you can write on anything that you like so long as you can cover the required material under the auspices of your essay question.  Think of the essay question as a thesis in reverse: a polemic, provocative, and pertinent line of inquiry to which the argument delineated and supported in your essay will be the most convincing answer.  You will be able refer to an outline during the exams, but not to the texts themselves. 



As indicated in the table below, the participation grade is a substantial portion of your final grade — 25% — so keep up with the reading, response, and groupwork assignments and make your voice heard in class.  The more actively you participate in the class discussions and other collaborative assignments, the more I can tailor the direction of course to your particular concerns and interests.



Homework, Groupwork, Responses, & Class Participation


due dates


Essay Exam I: Frankenstein, “The Sandman,” & “The ‘Uncanny’


July 14


Essay Exam II: Dracula & “The Cyborg Manifesto


August 4


Five-Page Comparison-Contrast Essay on Beloved


August 22

(11 AM)



The participation points will accumulate over the course of the semester, serving as a barometer of your ongoing engagement in the class.  In addition to homework or in-class responses, I give credit for the outlines and essay questions that you construct for the exams, as well as for extra-credit responses or peer reviews of other students’ papers.  See the Synopsis of Assignments for further information on completing (and making up) the various kinds of coursework.


Missing classes or not doing the required reading will hinder your ability to do the assignments properly and promptly.  We will do in-class responses or groupwork almost every class period, and if you are absent for one of those classes (or if you have not done the required reading), you will have to make up the missing work.  These assignments will be much more time consuming and much less interesting to do on your own. 


Academic Integrity

Plagiarism is a very serious offense against the Code of Student Conduct.  Any cheating on the exams or plagiarized writing will automatically result in a failing, zero-percent grade for the assignment, as well as in further disciplinary action from the Student Judicial Services if egregious.  The general rule is that if you use three or more words of another writer in a row without enclosing those words in quotation marks and acknowledging your source, you are guilty of plagiarism.  Turning in a paper that you wrote for another course for this course, i.e. recycling the same words for double credit, also constitutes academic dishonesty at EMU. 


See for more specific guidelines on plagiarism.  With the internet, plagiarism is easy and tempting to do; however, the internet also makes plagiarism that much more easy to catch and document, so do not even think about doing it in this class or elsewhere.



Because this course primarily consists of reading and discussion — rather than facts, figures, or memorization — attendance is crucial.  You may be absent four times without any penalty, but each absence after that will result in a reduction of your final grade by one third the letter grade: that is, the fifth class missed will turn a final grade of an A into an A-; the sixth, into a B+; and so on.  My attendance policy is less harsh than that of the English department as a whole, which automatically fails students who miss more than two weeks of class; instead, after missing two weeks of class, your grade will start being reduced dramatically, but not necessarily to a failing percentage if you have otherwise done well.  The four allowable absences are for emergencies, so if you ditch class four times, do not expect a reprieve from the rule if you become ill or have other extenuating circumstances later in the semester.  If there is a documented emergency (a death in the family, lost limb, prison term, &c.) at the end of the term, I will go out of my way to help in any way I can, including giving an incomplete, supposing that you have otherwise kept up with the assignments, attended class regularly, and finished a majority of the course. 


There will be no official penalty for lateness.  However, it can have several undesirable consequences: you may miss crucial information (such as the extension of a deadline) often covered in the first ten minutes of class and, of course, you will distract other students while entering the room.  It is your responsibility to ensure that you have not been marked absent because you were absent at the beginning of the class when I take attendance.  I cannot teach the class and keep track of incoming stragglers at the same time.    


Tuesday, June 28:

Introduce Class and Topic

Student Introductions

Conjectural Response

Watch Surprise Film (POV)

Test Film with Conjectures


1.       Read the Syllabus Closely

2.       Conjectural Response (if not already done)

3.       Consult the Discussion Questions for Hoffmann

4.       Read Hoffmann, “The Sandman” (33 pages)

5.       Read Freud, “The ‘Uncanny,’” Part I


Thursday, June 30:

Jigsaw Coverage of Syllabus

View “Modern Venus

Connect Film with Hoffmann

Groupwork on Hoffmann and Freud


1.       Get the Books

2.       Read Shelley, Frankenstein (3-106)

3.       Freud, “The ‘Uncanny,’” Part II

4.       See List of Group Assignments

5.       Base Group 1 Writes Discussion Questions

Tuesday, July 5:

Connect Shelley with Hoffmann

Groupwork on Shelly and Freud

View Images in Book (224-33)

Watch Clips from Frankenstein (1931)


1.       Read Shelley, Frankenstein (106-51)

2.       Read Freud, “The ‘Uncanny,’” Part III

3.       Write a 350-word Response comparing the film and literary versions of Frankenstein

4.       Bring two Copies of the Response to Class


Thursday, July 7:

Discuss Shelley

Groupwork on Shelly and Freud

Watch Clips from Frankenstein (1994)


1.       Finish Shelley, Frankenstein (151-189)

2.       Read Criticism Selected for Your Group

3.       Base Group 2 Writes Discussion Questions


Tuesday, July 12:

Jigsaw Criticism

Wrap up Shelley & Hoffmann

Review for Exam


1.        Review Hoffmann, Shelley, & Freud

2.        Read Handout on Exam One

3.        Prepare Outline & Essay Question for Exam

4.        Optional Extended Office Hours 1-2:30 7/13


Thursday, July 14:

*** EXAM ONE ***

Watch Dracula adaptations


1.        Read Stoker, Dracula (3-102)

2.        Haraway, “Cyborg Manifesto,” Part I      

3.        Base Group 3 Writes Discussion Questions



Tuesday, July 19:

Discuss Dracula

Groupwork on Stoker and Haraway


1.       Read Stoker, Dracula (102-50)

2.       Haraway, “Cyborg Manifesto,” Part II     

3.       Base Group 4 Writes Discussion Questions


Thursday, July 21:

Discuss Dracula

Watch Silence of the Lambs (POV)

Discuss Film and Stoker


1.       Read Stoker, Dracula (150-251)

2.       Haraway, “Cyborg Manifesto,” Part III    

3.       Base Group 5 Writes Discussion Questions


Tuesday, July 26:

Discuss Dracula

Connect Stoker and Film

Groupwork on Stoker and Haraway


1.       Read Stoker, Dracula (251-99)   

2.       Base Group 6 Writes Discussion Questions

Thursday, July 28:

Discuss Dracula

Groupwork on Stoker and Haraway

Debate on Stoker and Haraway



1.       Finish Stoker, Dracula (299-369)

2.       Read Criticism Selected for Your Group

3.       Base Group 7 Writes Discussion Questions


Tuesday, August 2:

Jigsaw Criticism

Wrap up Stoker and Haraway

Review for Exam



1.       Review Stoker and Haraway

2.       Read Handout on Exam Two

3.       Prepare Outline & Essay Question for Exam

4.       Optional Extended Office Hours 1-2:30 8/3


Thursday, August 4:

*** EXAM TWO ***

Watch Clips from Touch of Evil



1.       Read Morrison, Beloved (3-100)

2.       Make a List of Four Significant Comparison-Contrasts between Beloved and one of the other texts (Shelley, Stoker, or Hoffmann)

3.       Base Group 8 Writes Discussion Questions


Tuesday, August 9:

Discuss Morrison

Groupwork on Beloved



1.       Read Morrison, Beloved (101-216)

2.       Write both a Pro and Con Proposition for a Debate on Beloved      


Thursday, August 11:

* Class Cancelled for Conference *




1.       Finish Morrison, Beloved (216-324)            

2.       Base Group 9 Writes Discussion Questions


Tuesday, August 16:

Discuss & Debate Beloved

Groupwork on Comparisons & Contrasts


1.       See the Handout on the Comparison-Contrast Essay

2.       Work on Comparison-Contrast Essay

3.       Optional Extended Office Hours 1-2:30 8/17


Thursday, August 18:

Discuss Beloved

Present Research

Groupwork on Papers


1.       Work on Comparison-Contrast Essay


Monday, August 22: Five-page research essay due in my English Department mailbox (612 Pray-Harrold) or under my office door (603G Pray Harrold) by 11 AM.