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office hours:

603j pray harrold


TTh 4:45–6:45 PM

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Literature 200:

Special Topics Honors Course

Gothic and Horror Literature

Fall 2013

Dr. Abby Coykendall



Section # 16852

Tuesday & Thursday 3:30–4:45 pm

Pray-Harrold Hall 609


“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, “Theses on the Philosophy of History” (1940)


Literature 200: Literary Studies for Literature Lovers

Honors Special Topics Course: Gothic and Horror Literature

LITR 200 is a course in which you will investigate a wide variety of English-language gothic and horror literature spanning the Renaissance to the present and encompassing several literary forms, from plays (Shakespeare’s Hamlet), to poems (Robert Browning's “My Last Duchess,” Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy,” and Marge Piercy’s “Barbie Doll”), to early modern and contemporary fiction (see the required course books listed below). LITR 200 is designed to give you an eclectic survey of the broad sweep of literary culture by honing in on a specific theme to illuminate how literature develops over time and adapts to myriad historical, political, and geographical contexts.

Gothic literature, together with its offshoot horror literature, is arguably the quintessence of a literary genre, a roving yet recognizable cluster of tropes found in a disparate array of artistic traditions and media. It is especially pronounced in experimental works new to or untested on the cultural scene, so much so that its emergence often unsettles the conception (and very cachet) of literary culture itself. Ghosts, vampires, 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 Twilight or Harry Potter sagas of today. Gothic tropes are prevalent in the canonical British novel (Defoe, Dickens), romantic poetry (Scott, Wordsworth), and critical theory (Freud, Marx, Derrida); in the global multicultural or postcolonial novel (Morrison, Silko, Marquez, Rushdie); and, most notably, in contemporary literature written by women. The so-called “female gothic” extends all the way from Ann Radcliffe, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and the Brontë sisters to twentieth-century writers like Isak Dinesen and Angela Carter. Gothic settings and themes also seem to influence each successive mode of new media in turn: from early cinema (Dracula, Citizen Kane, Chinatown) or its popular culture parodies (Rocky Horror Picture Show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Matrix) to MTV music videos and internet role-playing games.

As befits a goblin-ridden literary genre born illegit in the age of enlightenment, the gothic has impressed its contemporaries as distinctly cutting-edge and “modern” ever since its first inception in the 1700s. Indeed, despite its fascination with the past and insistence on the return of the repressed, the gothic has possessed an aura of modernity for three centuries and counting. One objective of this course is thus to investigate how the gothic genre transforms over time in relation to changing perceptions of modernity, beginning with the origins of the gothic (Hamlet, Castle of Otranto) and its nineteenth-century Victorian offspring, the vampire thriller Dracula, and concluding with the 1988 Pulitzer Prize winning novel Beloved. Throughout the term, we will test both the utopian and dystopian visions of the genre, not only putting the gothic works in dialogue with the historical or philosophical context of the time, but also examining how they shape the various claims to—and contestations against—modernity that continue to vex our own.


General Education:

LITR 200 is a General Education Humanities course designed to provide students who love literature with a framework for thinking critically about the texts that they read. In this intensive introduction to literary studies, course readings focus on exposing students to multiple genres of writing (fiction, poetry and drama), locating particular texts within the cultural context in which they were produced, and tracing the evolution of one or more literary themes through multiple historical periods. Students will be challenged to consider literature from a range of perspectives and literary periods, through a sustained look at different types of writing within each major genre. In considering thematic or structural similarities between individual texts, students will come to see how literature both reflects and inspires changes in imaginative, political, social and/or cultural practices.


Course 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. Make sure to get the correct edition pictured below by double-checking the ISBN numbers (a fingerprint of sorts for the book):



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

** William Shakespeare, Hamlet (Bedford/St. Martin's 1993; ISBN# 0312055447)

** Horace Walpole, Castle of Otranto, ed. E. J. Clery (Oxford 2009; ISBN# 0199537216)

** Bram Stoker, Dracula, ed. John Paul Riquelme (Bedford/St. Martin's 2001; ISBN# 0312241704)

** Toni Morrison, Beloved (Vintage, 2004; ISBN# 1400033411)

The other required readings are available in the online course shell, printable from any campus computer: (see the "Doc Sharing" link). Bring copies of required texts with you to class. You will need everything on hand for groupwork and class discussions.


Informal homework assignments will be due almost every class period to ensure ongoing preparation for and participation in the course. Depending on your group number (see the attendance sheet or the online course shell), you will be composing discussion questions, writing responses on the materials, or reviewing optional readings for your peers. Groupwork is simply a way to organize which set of students do which assignment (and with which materials) each period, thus diversifying the topics highlighted in class discussion, the people responsible for bringing those issues to our attention, as well as the skills that they use to do so. Most classes will consist of interactive discussions stemming from this groupwork. However, there will be no “groupwork” in the sense of collaborating with peers on the same graded assignment. You will not need to meet with peers outside of class, only at most contacting them by email on occasion to ensure that you are covering distinct topics.


Grading & Assessment Weights



Participation (homework, groupwork, presentation, & quizzes)


Examination #1: Poetry and drama (true false; short answer; self-designed essay question)


Examination #2: Short fiction & the novel (true false; short answer; self-designed essay question)


Five-Page Essay (literary analysis demonstrating close-reading skills)


Instructor Availability

I will be delighted to discuss any course-related questions, interests, or concerns during my office hours, 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 the 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 handouts in the online course shell, or the peers in your group, and then email only if the confusion persists. Your first visit to my office hours with a course-related inquiry, such as to get guidance on homework, discuss readings lately covered, or brainstorm essay ideas, will be worth extra credit.



Failure to participate regularly in class discussion makes achieving the course objectives difficult and, eventually, impossible. Reserve absences for illnesses, car accidents, or other unforeseen emergencies preventing you from coming to class and make sure not to exhaust your allowable absences too early in the term. Because this course primarily consists of reading and discussion—rather than facts, figures, or memorization—regular attendance is crucial. You never need to explain why you are absent, as I always will assume that you have an excellent reason to miss class. However, any student who misses FIVE class periods for any reason—that is, any student who misses over two weeks of the term—will have his or her final grade reduced by a full mark (for example, lowered from A to B, B to C, etc.), and any student who misses SIX or more class periods will become ineligible to pass. When you must be absent, contact the other students in your group to share notes or determine what you missed. All missed homework is due on your return, and any changes to the schedule will be sent to the class as a whole by email.



The most essential information—due dates, assignment instructions, clarification of issues—is given at the beginning of class, so it is essential to come on time. Make sure to leave early just in case you encounter any problems along the way (traffic jams, late busses, no parking). Arriving well into the period or exiting well before its conclusion both count as half an absence. If you are late, it is your responsibility to sign the attendance sheet to avoid being marked absent. Habitual lateness that disrupts the class eventually counts as an absence (or absences) as well.


Classroom Etiquette

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 leave occasionally, bring a doctor’s note confirming as such; otherwise, conduct all personal business outside of class.

Disruptive exits can be both mental and physical. Students unprepared to discuss the materials for the day, or discovered using laptops or phones for purposes unrelated to the course, will be asked to leave and marked absent. This course has a no-laptop, no-cell-phone policy, so do not bother using these instruments during class time unless specifically asked to do so to look something up.


Academic Integrity

Understanding and avoiding academic dishonesty, and doing all coursework on your own, is imperative. Copying the homework of peers, taking credit for essays that you find on the internet, cheating on exams, or recycling your own essays written for other classes for double credit are all forms of academic dishonesty. 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 the concepts and/or expressions of other people without any exception under any circumstance, whether it be by 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 own writing, make sure to credit that person for the passage and place quotation marks on either side (e.g., So and so says “X”). 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.

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


Grading Scale:

































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

At some point in the term, you might consider taking advantage of the University Writing Center located in Halle 115 (9-6 M-Th; 11-4 Fri.), which assists with the writing skills necessary for success in this or any other class. The Academic Projects Center located in Halle 116 (11-5 M-Th) offers one-to-one consulting for students on writing, research, or technology-related issues. The International Student Resource Center located in Alexander 200 (487-0370) is dedicated to second-language students from abroad.


You can also avail 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.


Schedule for LITR 200: Gothic and Horror Literature (Fall 2013)

Reading assignments and other course work required for the class period appear to the right of the due dates on the schedule below. Check the online course shell ( to find readings or more detailed explanations of the homework tasks. Abbreviations are as follows: response on the required readings (RSP); discussion questions on the required readings (DQ); quotations from the optional readings (QTN); show-and-tell anecdote applying the assigned readings to a non-classes context (S&T); no homework for the class period (n/a).

September 5:

Introduction of Students, Course, & Topic

September 10:

Background: Routledge Companion to Gothic (Chapter 1, Chapter 15–16)

Literature: E.T.A. Hoffman, “The Sandman”

Required Film (available at Halle Library): David Lynch, Blue Velvet (1986)

** Homework: Group 1 (DQ)

September 12:

Background: Routledge Companion to Gothic (Chapter 17)

Criticism: Sigmund Freud, “The ‘Uncanny’”

Literature: Brothers Grimm, “Hansel and Gretel,” & Charles Perrault, “Little Red Riding Hood”

Optional Reading: Marina Warner, “Child in the Jaws of the Story”

** Homework: Group 2 (RSP); Group 3 (QTN); Group 4 (S&T); Group 5 (n/a)

September 17:

Background: Begin “Introduction to Drama” (pg. 839–47)

Literature: William Shakespeare, Hamlet (introduction, pg. 1–14, & Acts 1–2)

Optional Comparison Film: Kenneth Branagh, Hamlet (halle or imdb)

September 19:

Background: Finish “Introduction to Drama” (pg. 847–55)

Literature: William Shakespeare, Hamlet (introduction, pg. 14–26, & Acts 3–4)

Optional Reading: Marjorie Garber, “Giving Up the Ghost” (at the back of the Hamlet edition)

** Homework: Group 3 (RSP); Group 4 (QTN); Group 5 (S&T); Group 1 (n/a)


October 1:


Background: Routledge Companion to Gothic (Chapter 2)

Literature: William Shakespeare, Hamlet (read Act 5, then reread the first half of the play)

** Homework: Group 3 (DQ)


October 3:

Literature: William Shakespeare, Hamlet (reread the second half of the play)

Optional Reading: Elaine Showalter, “Representing Ophelia” (at the back of the Hamlet edition)

** Homework: Group 4 (RSP); Group 5 (QTN); Group 1 (S&T); Group 2 (n/a)

October 8:

Background: “Analyzing Poetry”” (pg. 200–36)

Literature: Poetry Packet (Robert Browning's “My Last Duchess,” Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy,” Marge Piercy’s “Barbie Doll,” and Florence and the Machine, “Girl With One Eye”)

** Homework: Group 4 (DQ)

October 10:

Literature: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Rime of the Ancient Mariner

** Homework: Group 5 (RSP); Group 1 (QTN); Group 2 (S&T); Group 3 (n/a)



October 15:

Section One Review (bring a draft of your essay outline for peer review)

October 17:

* Examination One (short answer; self-designed essay question)

October 22:

Background: Routledge Companion to Gothic ( “Eighteenth Century Gothic”)

Criticism: David Hume, “Of Miracles”

Literature: Horace Walpole, Castle of Otranto

** Homework: Group 5 (DQ)

October 24:

Literature: Horace Walpole, Castle of Otranto

Optional reading: Foster, “‘Little Children’” (Dracula 483-99)

** Homework: Group 1 (RSP); Group 2 (QTN); Group 3 (S&T); Group 4 (n/a)

October 29:

Background: Routledge Companion to Gothic (“Victorian Gothic”)

Literature: Bram Stoker, Dracula

October 31:

Literature: Bram Stoker, Dracula

Optional reading: Wicke, “Vampiric Typewriting” (Dracula 518-37)

** Homework: Group 1 & 2 (DQ); Group 3 (QTN); Group 4 & 5 (n/a)

November 5:

Background: Routledge Companion to Gothic (“Gothic London”)

Literature: Bram Stoker, Dracula

November 7:

Literature: Bram Stoker, Dracula

Optional reading: Riquelme, “Doubling and Repetition” (Dracula 518-37)

** Homework: Group 3 & 4 (DQ); Group 5 (QTN); Group 1 & 2 (n/a)

November 12:

Background: Routledge Companion to Gothic (“Gothic Masculinities” & “Gothic Femininities”)

Literature: Bram Stoker, Dracula

November 14:

Literature: Bram Stoker, Dracula

Optional reading: “Contextual Illustrations and Documents” (Dracula 370-406)

** Homework: All groups write a response on Dracula quoting the Routledge Companion.

November 19:

Background: Routledge Companion to Gothic (“Trauma and Memory”)

Literature: Toni Morrison, Beloved

November 21

Literature: Toni Morrison, Beloved

Optional reading: “‘It’s Not the House': Beloved as Gothic Novel” (in the course shell)

** Homework: Group 5 (DQ); Group 1 & 2 (QTN); Group 3 &4 (n/a)

November 26:

Background: Routledge Companion to Gothic (“American Gothic”)

Literature: Toni Morrison, Beloved

** Homework: TBA

November 28:

NO CLASS: Fall Break

December 3:

Literature: Toni Morrison, Beloved

December 5:

Literature: Toni Morrison, Beloved

** Homework: All groups write a response on Beloved quoting the Routledge Companion.

December 10:

* Term Paper Presentations

December 12:

* Term Paper Presentations

December 17: (3PM –– 4:30)

* Examination Two (short answer; self-designed essay question on Dracula and Beloved)



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