Delightful Horror: Gothic Literature from 1700-1900
This course provides a survey of British literature from the eighteenth through the nineteenth centuries with a special emphasis on gothic literature. Before audiences went to the movies to delight in the terror of horror films, readers indulged similar impulses when they read gothic literature, a literary form filled with ghosts, monsters, creaking hallways, and mysterious moanings meant to instill fear in its readers. So, one of the questions we will ask throughout this course will be: why is it that we not only choose, but enjoy, being frightened? Further, why is it that this fearful enjoyment provided by the gothic rose to prominence in the eighteenth century, and remained one of the most popular literary forms through the nineteenth century (and beyond)? We will be reading gothic novels, poetry, and critical essays as a means of understanding not only the literature of this period, but also the social, economic, and political forces that shape this time of radical historical changes. Though our reading material comes from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, we will think together about how and why the fascination with fear introduced in the gothic is something we still feel today.
Texts may include The Castle of Otranto (Walpole), A Sicilian Romance (Radcliffe), The Monk (Lewis), selections of romantic poetry by Coleridge, Shelley, and Byron, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Stevenson), and others.
This course fulfills the University’s W (writing) requirement, as well as the VPLA (visual, performing, and literary arts) requirement.