English | Projects in Reading and Writing
W170 | 1826 | Jason Lindquist


Topic:  GOTHIC MONSTERS AND DAMSELS IN DISTRESS:  AMERICAN POP CULTURE
AND THE GOTHIC IMAGINATION

American culture has borrowed some of its most enduring icons from a
two-century-old literary genre known as the "Gothic."  The Gothic has
given us Frankenstein and Dracula; haunted mansions and the ancestral
family secret; and the damsel threatened by the dark and powerful
Gothic villain; as well as, let's not forget, Count Chocula, the plot
of every single Scooby Doo episode, and "the count" from Sesame
Street.  What are we to make of a set of motifs that so permeates our
culture?  What can we learn about ourselves by studying the ways our
culture scares itself?  This course sets out to 1) try to define the
"Gothic"; 2) identify and analyze Gothic patterns in contemporary
film, television, and music; and 3) ask why this set of motifs has
refused to die (so to speak).  Objects of investigation may include
films (Silence of the Lambs, Seven, the Others); television programs,
both fictional and "real" (The X-files, The Jerry Springer Show, Cops,
and professional wrestling); musicians (Eminem, Nine Inch Nails, and
Johnny Cash); urban legends; and anywhere else our curiosity leads us.
Student input on objects of study is welcome.