course shell:

online syllabus:


office hours:

603j pray harrold


Tues 11-12 & 3:15-3:30
Thurs 11-1 & 3:15-4

~email for appointments~

LITR 592: Gothic Novel

Fall 2014

Dr. Abby Coykendall


Pray Harrold Hall 318
Tuesday 6:30-9:10 PM
Registration #17060

“This is how the angel of history must look. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe that keeps piling ruin upon ruin. ... The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm … irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.”
— Walter Benjamin, “Thesis on the Philosophy of History”

LITERATURE 592: Gothic Literature

LITR 592 is a course in which you will investigate a wide variety of British gothic novels spanning the mid-eighteenth to the late nineteenth century. The gothic is arguably the quintessence of genres, less a literary style with a strict set of conventions than a roving yet recognizable cluster of tropes found in a disparate array of artistic media and traditions. Indeed, the gothic tends to be particularly pronounced in works relatively new or untested on the cultural scene, so much so that its emergence can unsettle the very conception of culture itself. Gothic tropes pervade early fiction (Defoe, Stowe, Dickens), romantic poetry (Scott, Wordsworth, Coleridge), as well as countercultural forces like critical theory (Freud, Derrida), class critique (Marx, Romero), multiculturalism (Morrison, Silko), postcolonialism (Rushdie, Marquez, Ondaatje), and most notably, feminism, with the so-called “female gothic” extending all the way from Radcliffe, Perkins Gilman, and the Brontës to twentieth-century writers like Isak Dinesen, Angela Carter, and Arundhati Roy. Gothic settings and themes likewise prevail in almost every national canon upon its first flowering—British, American, Celtic, Caribbean, South American, Southeast Asian—along with each successive new media in turn: cinema (Dracula, Citizen Kane, Chinatown), popular culture (Rocky Horror, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, American Horror Story), the MTV music video (New Order, Marilyn Manson), or the social-media meme and internet role-playing game.

All along the gothic has been the haunt of the marvelous, the monstrous, and the delectably horrific, a ubiquitous yet protean genre that remains one of the most elusive to classify. Ghosts, vampires, doubles, mutant creatures, haunted castles, orphaned heroines, forged manuscripts, wild landscapes, psychic fissures, secret hideaways, semi-candlelit labyrinths, and such like topoi litter its prolific pages—from the eighteenth-century orientalist tale, to the Sherlock Holmes mysteries of the nineteenth century, to the Harry Potter or Twilight sagas of today. However, as befits a ghost- and goblin-ridden genre born illegitimately in the age of enlightenment, the gothic has impressed readers as distinctly cutting-edge and contemporary ever since its first inception. Thus, despite its fascination with the past or ruminations on the return of the repressed, the gothic has sustained an aura of modernity for three centuries and counting—encompassing authors from the utmost conservative and radical traditions, such as Shakespeare (Macbeth, King Lear), the libertine Sade (Justine), the zealous counter-revolutionary Burke (Reflections), Burke’s most outspoken opponent, Mary Wollstonecraft (Wrongs of Woman), as well as Wollstonecraft’s partner, the anarchist philosopher Godwin (Caleb Williams), and daughter, the seminal gothic writer Mary Shelley (Frankenstein).

Course Objective

The primary objective of this course is to investigate how the gothic genre transforms over time in relation to changing perceptions of modernity, beginning with the origins of the gothic in the eighteenth century and continuing with an eclectic range of Victorian gothic novels. Throughout the term, we will test both the utopian and dystopian visions of the genre, not only by putting the gothic works in dialogue with the historical or philosophical contexts of the time, but also by examining how these works shape the myriad claims to (and contestations against) modernity that continue to vex our own.

Texts and Materials

Books are available for purchase at the EMU Bookstore in the Student Center, as well as at online merchants (Amazon, Able’s, Barnes & Noble) or other university bookstores in the area. Some are available on 2-hour reserve at the library. Make sure to get the correct edition below by double-checking the ISBN number, a fingerprint of sorts for the book:

Ann Radcliffe, Romance of the Forest (Oxford UP, 2009; ISBN #0199539227)

Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon (Oxford UP, 2008; ISBN #019953554X)

Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2nd Ed., 2003; ISBN #0312256868)

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Carmilla (Valancourt, 2009; ISBN #1934555649)

H. Rider Haggard, She (Modern Library, 2002; ISBN #0375759050)

Routledge Companion to Gothic, ed. Spooner and McEvoy (Routledge 2007; ISBN# 0415398436)

Other readings are available in the online course shell (, printable from any campus computer (see the schedule for links). Bring copies of required readings, whether the books above or handouts from the course shell, with you to class. You will need everything on hand for groupwork and class discussions.

If you need help accessing materials in the course shell, contact the 24/7 technical support by phone at 888-538-0515 or email You can also chat with a helpdesk representative during normal business hours by clicking the Technical Support tab on the Course Toolbar.

Instructor Availability

I will be delighted to discuss any course-related questions, interests, or concerns during my office hours (in person or by phone), as well as at any time through email ( Emails with straightforward questions usually receive a reply within a few hours to a day; those with thornier issues usually receive a reply within a week. Please limit inquiries to those that I alone can answer so I can give more pressing issues of other students the attention that they deserve. If, for example, you are unsure about a due date, consult the syllabus, the schedule, the handouts in the course shell, or the peers in your group and then email if the confusion persists.

Assessment Weights


Weekly Coursework & Class Participation


Proposal for Research Paper


Conference-Style Presentation on Research Project


Research Essay (18-25 pages)

Homework Tasks

Instead of exams, there will be informal assignments due almost every class period to ensure ongoing participation and progress. You will cycle though these tasks over the course of the term, beginning with a different one depending on your group number. Each task is described in more depth in the course shell.

Response (RS)

Post a response applying the theory to the literature (550-750 words) in the course shell by class time (see the Homework Tasks link on the left)

Reply (RPY)

Reply to a response posted the previous week (400-600 words) in the course shell by class time

Discussion Question (DQ)

Email a discussion question about the theory and/or literature (70 words minimum) by 10AM the day of class to

Quotation (QT)

Email a quotation from the optional criticism (3 to 4 lines) to share with your peers by 10AM the day of class to

Application (APP)

In-class informal discussion applying one of the contextual, background, recommended, or artistic materials to the literature (5 min. class time)


These tasks are a means to diversify the topics that we highlight in the course, the students responsible for bringing certain kinds of issues to our attention, as well as the skills and approaches which they use to do so. Most of the class period will revolve around the interactive discussions that result from the weekly homework. There is no “groupwork” properly speaking—that is, collaboration with peers on an identical project—so you do not have to meet with fellow group members outside of class.

Group Assignments

Group One

Last name begins with A-C


Group Four

Last name begins with L

Group Two

Last name begins with D-H


Group Five

Last name begins with M

Group Three

Last name begins with I-K


Group Six

Last name begins with N-Z

Attendance, Lateness, & Classroom Etiquette:

Because this course primarily consists of reading and discussion—rather than facts, figures, or memorization—regular attendance is crucial. You never need to explain your absences, as I always assume that you have an excellent reason to miss class. However, students who miss more than TWO classes for any reason will not be eligible to pass. Reserve the allowable absences for illnesses, car accidents, or other emergencies that truly prevent you from coming to class and make sure not to exhaust these absences too early in the term.

The most essential information—due dates, assignment instructions, clarification of outstanding issues—is given at the beginning of class, so it is essential to come on time. Try arriving early in case you encounter any problems along the way (traffic jams, late busses, no parking). Arriving well into the period or leaving well before its conclusion each count as half an absence. Habitual lateness that disrupts the class will eventually be counted as an absence as well.

It is important to be mindful of your peers during class time, listening to them with the same respect and attention that you hope to receive yourself. Once class begins, do not distract your peers by walking in or out of the room unless there is a genuine emergency. If you have a medical condition requiring you to exit from time to time, bring a formal doctor’s note affirming as such; otherwise, reserve all personal business for the break midway through the class period. Disruptive exits can be both mental and physical; students unprepared to discuss the readings for the day, or students using phones or laptops for purposes unrelated to the course, will be asked to leave and marked absent.


This class is meant to be a welcoming educational experience for all students, including those who may have challenges or disabilities that impact learning. If you find yourself having difficulty participating or demonstrating knowledge in this course, please feel free to contact me to discuss reasonable accommodations (preferably at least one week prior to the need), even if you currently lack a Disability Resource Center (DRC) accommodation letter. You can also contact the DRC directly to talk about possible accommodations (734-487-2470; 240K Student Center;

Academic Resources & Campus Safety:

The University Writing Center (115 Halle Library) offers one-to-one writing consulting for both undergraduate and graduate students from 10 to 6 Mondays through Thursdays and from 10 to 4 on Fridays, with several satellite locations across campus (in Owen, Marshall, Pray-Harrold, and Mark Jefferson). The Academic Projects Center (116 Halle Library) offers consulting writing, research, or technology-related issues from 11 to 5 Mondays through Thursdays.  Note that the use of email and the course shell is mandatory, so if you have difficulty submitting assignments or anything else, go to the APC for help. Another support center is the International Student Resource Center (200 Alexander, 487-0370) dedicated to second-language students from abroad. Also consider availing yourself of the campus escort service, Student Eyes and Ears for University Safety, by calling 48-SEEUS (487-3387). If you sign up for the emergency text-messaging system (, DPS can notify us of any calamity afflicting the campus

Academic Integrity:

Understanding and avoiding academic dishonesty, and doing all coursework on your own, is imperative. Copying the homework of peers, taking credit for works that you find on the internet, or recycling your own essays written for other classes for double credit are all forms of academic dishonesty, and for very good reason. Each interferes with the sole purpose, and the unique benefit, of going to college; namely, the unfettered exercise of an informed mind. The worst form of academic dishonesty is plagiarism, which, put simply, is taking either the ideas or the words of another person and reusing them as if they are your own. You must acknowledge when you make use of concepts and/or expressions of other people without any exception under any circumstance, whether it be in drawing on Wikipedia for mundane (and quite possibly specious) information or channeling the most holy of holy books for heavenly inspiration. When describing the ideas of someone else in your own words, make sure to signal as such (e.g., So and so says X … “); most importantly, when inserting the words of someone else into your writing, make sure to credit that person for the passage and place quotation marks on either side (e.g., So and so says “X”). Any writing that lacks these acknowledgements will pass as your own by default, and any writing that thus seems to be your own, without actually being your own, will be plagiarizing the original source.

Any instance of academic dishonesty will result in an automatic 0% grade for the assignment; any second instance will result in outright failure of the course. There is no excuse for academic dishonesty, nor any exceptions to this policy, so make sure that your work is plagiarism-free before turning it in.


Schedule for LITR 592: Gothic Literature

Homework is listed next to the day due. You will be doing different tasks each week depending on your group number (see the chart above). The schedule in the course shell ( has links to all of the readings, handouts, homework, and artwork, and is thus much easier to navigate. Abbreviations are as follows: Response on literature and theory [RS]; Discussion question on literature and theory [DQ]; Present quotation from optional criticism [QT]; Application of contextual, background, recommended, or artistic materials to the literary readings [APP]; Reply to the responses posted the previous week [RPY].


Week 1:
September 9

Course & Student Introductions; Conjectural Responses

Optional Materials:

Week 2:
September 16

Literature: Ann Radcliffe, Romance of the Forest (1791), pg. vii-xxiv, 1-121

Theory: Edmund Burke, Philosophical Enquiry (1757) & Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)

Context: Fred Botting and Dale Townshend, “General Introduction”

* Homework: Group 1 (RS); Group 3 (DQ); Group 4 (QT); Group 5 (APP)

Optional Criticism: Paulson, “Gothic Fiction & the French Revolution”

Background: Anon., “How to Make a [Gothic] Novel”

Artwork: Fuseli, The Nightmare

Recommended: Kant, “What is Enlightenment?”

Week 3:
September 23

Literature: Radcliffe, Romance of the Forest, pg. 122-243

Theory: Sigmund Freud, “The ‘Uncanny’”

Context: Botting and Townshend, “Introduction,” Eighteenth-Century Gothic

* Homework: Group 2 (RS); Group 3 (RPY); Group 4 (DQ); Group 5 (QT); Group 6 (APP)

Optional Criticism: Punter, “Gothic Origins”

Background: Anon., “Terrorist System of Novel Writing”

Recommended: Massé, “Psychoanalysis and the Gothic”

Week 4:
September 30

Literature: Radcliffe, Romance of the Forest, pg. 244-363

Theory: Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror

Context: Ann Radcliffe, “Supernatural in Poetry”  

* Homework: Group 3 (RS); Group 4 (RPY); Group 5 (DQ); Group 6 (QT); Group 1 (APP)

Optional Criticism: Miles, “Abjection, Nationalism & the Gothic”

Artwork: Piranesi, Lorraine, and Rosa paintings

Recommended: “Abject & Grotesque,” Routledge Companion

Week 5:
October 7

Literature: Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (1798+), pg. vii-xxv, 3-93

Theory:  Ann Bermingham, “Picturesque & Ready-to-Wear Femininity”

Context: Alison Milbank, “Gothic Femininities,” Routledge Companion

* Homework: Group 4 (RS); Group 5 (RPY); Group 6 (DQ); Group 1 (QT); Group 2 (APP)

Optional Criticism: Lynch, “At Home with Jane Austen”

Background: Examples of Jane Austen’s Reading”

Artwork: Grant Wood, American Gothic

Recommended: Stewart, Domestic Realities, Imperial Fictions

Week 6:
October 14

Literature: Finish Austen, Northanger Abbey, pg. 94-187

Theory: Jill Heydt-Stevenson, “Fashioning the Body”

Context: Andrew Smith, “Hauntings,” Routledge Companion

* Homework: Group 5 (RS); Group 6 (RPY); Group 1 (DQ); Group 2 (QT); Group 3 (APP)

Optional Criticism: Neill, “Northanger Abbey & Gothic Best Sellers”

Background: Excerpt from Mysteries of Udolpho

Recommended: Hume, “Of Miracles”

Week 7:
October 21

Literature: Emile Brontë, Wuthering Heights (1847), pg. 3-96

Theory: Sigmund Freud, “Family Romances”

Context: Botting and Townshend, “Introduction,” Nineteenth-Century Gothic

* Homework: Group 6 (RS); Group 1 (RPY); Group 2 (DQ); Group 3 (QT); Group 4 (APP)

Optional Criticism: Watt, “Time and Family in the Gothic”

Background: Mathew Verse 18

Recommended: Sedgwick, Coherence of Gothic Conventions

Week 8:
October 28

Literature: Continue Brontë, Wuthering Heights (1847), pg. 97-192

Theory: Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces”

Context: McEvoy & Spooner, “Gothic Locations,” Routledge Companion

* Homework: Group 1 (RS); Group 2 (RPY); Group 3 (DQ); Group 4 (QT); Group 5 (APP)

Optional Criticism: Botting, “Power in the Darkness”

Recommended: Foucault, “We Other Victorians”

Week 9:
November 4

Literature: Finish Brontë, Wuthering Heights (1847), pg. 97-192

Theory: Walter Benjamin,Theses on the Philosophy of History

Context:  Mark Neocleous,”Marx’s Vampires”

* Homework: Group 2 (RS); Group 3(RPY); Group 4 (DQ); Group 5 (QT); Group 6 (APP)

Optional Criticism: Eagleton, “Myths of Power” (Novel Appendix)

Background: Wuthering Heights Family Tree

Recommended: Jacobs, “Threshold of Interpretation”

Week 10:
November 11

Literature: Finish Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Carmilla (1871)

Theory: Ken Gelder, “Reading the Vampire

Context: Ellis Hanson, “Queer Gothic” Routledge Companion

* Homework: Groups 2 & 4 (RPY); Group 3 (RS); Group 5(DQ); Group 6 (QT); Group 1 (APP)

Optional Criticism: Creed, “Horror & the Monstrous-Feminine”

Background: “Irish Gothic,” Routledge Companion

Recommended: Malchow, “Cannibalism & Popular Culture”

Week 11:
November 18

Literature: H. Rider Haggard, She (1887), pg. xvii-xxiii, 3-104

Theory: Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather

Context: James Procter & Angel Smith “Gothic and Empire”

* Homework: Group 4 (RS); Group 5 (RPY); Group 6 (DQ); Group 1 (QT); Group 2 (APP)

Optional Criticism: Brantlinger, “Imperial Gothic”

Recommended: Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Destination Culture

Week 12:
November 25

Literature: Continue Haggard, She, pg. 105-208

Theory: Eve Sedgwick, “Towards the Gothic: Terrorism & Homosexual Panic”

Context: Brian Baker, “Gothic Masculinities,” Routledge Companion

* Homework: Group 5 (RS); Group 6 (RPY); Group 1 (DQ); Group 2 (QT); Group 3 (APP)

Optional Criticism: White, “Male Bonding, Hollywood Orientalism, & the Repression of the Feminine”

Recommended: Said, “Imaginative Geography”

Week 13:
December 2

Literature:  Isak Dinesen, “The Monkey”

* Homework: All groups must finish the Research Proposal and submit it to the course shell dropbox. We will use “The Monkey” to review concepts covered throughout the term, so think of connections between this story and other course materials as you read.

Week 14:
December 9

Literature: Finish Haggard, She, pg. 209-313

Theory: Mary Anne Doane, “Femmes Fatales”

Context: Fred Boting, “Gothic Culture,” Routledge Companion

* Homework: Group 6 (RS); Group 1 (RPY); Group 2 (DQ); Group 3 (QT); Group 4 (APP)

Optional Criticism: Armstrong, “The Polygenetic Imagination”

Recommended: Shohat & Stam, “Tropes of Empire”

Week 15:
December 16

Research Presentations


[last modified August 20, 2014]