Capstone Experience: The Gothic - Writing Intensive

English 4970W
Section 1
Elizabeth Chang

Gothic fiction—literature of haunted castles and dark city streets, of alien horrors and domestic evils—has been a popular novel form since the eighteenth century. These novels (and, later, films) used sensational techniques of surprise, shock, and even terror, to ask hard questions about the worlds that their readers took for granted. Who belonged and who didn't? Whose history mattered? How did past misdeeds result in present-day punishments? Who, or what, was an alien? 

This capstone will survey Gothic fiction from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries with a focus on fiction of racial, gender and national difference. We will ask how suspense and horror genres help direct larger cultural conversations about the categories of race and gender. Some of the books we will read include Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House and Victor LaValle's The Ballad of Black Tom. We will also watch and discuss some films, including RebeccaAlien, and Get Out

In addition to doing these critical readings, you will also be responsible for planning, researching and writing a substantial project focusing on a particular iteration of the Gothic genre of your choice. We will also devote time to discussing questions about the life of an English major post-graduation.