American Gothic: From Poe to King גותיקה אמריקנית: מפו לקינג
Advanced Course קורס בחירה
Dr. Yael Maurer ד"ר יעל מאורר
In this course we will explore a literary genre known as "Gothic fiction" in its American form. We will read texts by American writers, beginning in the nineteenth century with Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe, and move on to Stephen King, one of the most prolific and bestselling American authors today, whose writing follows this American tradition but reinvents it to fit our day and age.
Gothic fiction, as Joyce Carol Oates notes in her introduction to American Gothic Tales, is a fitting literary form for the first settlers in the New World, the Puritans. The Puritan sensibility may be termed "Gothic" in the sense that the Puritans believed themselves to be chosen by God, but also potentially damned if they did not receive God's grace and were excluded from what they termed God's "Covenant of Grace". The Puritans believed all human activities are determined by God long before a person's birth. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Puritan sermons were concerned with witchcraft and demon possessions and with the invisible world of spirits which threaten the living. This sense of fear of the unknown and invisible world which exists somewhere outside our known world, but which has the power to invade and influence it, is at the heart of the Gothic tale. It is therefore fascinating to explore the ways in which this literary form came into being and how its influence is still very much with us today. One just has to glance at recent best –seller lists to see that the most popular books in the United States today are tales of vampires and demons.
Teresa Goddu further explores this sensibility in Gothic American, a study of the sources of the genre and its historical beginnings. She shows how American history "remains troubled and haunted despite its claims to newness and innocence" and discusses "the nightmare of American history", a fitting appellation for the literary texts and the films we'll be discussing.
We will watch a film based on a gothic tale (Timothy Burton's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow) and explore how it adapts and reinvents the original work of fiction.
We'll also watch the filmic adaptation of Stephen King's Southern gothic novel The Green Mile to see in what ways the South is re imagined as a gothic locale.
Washington Irving, "The Adventure of the German Student", "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", "Rip Van Winkle"
Edgar Allan Poe, "The Black Cat", "Hop Frog",
Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Old Esther Dudley", "Young Goodman Brown"
Stephen King, "Strawberry Spring", "The Boogeyman", The Green Mile
Gothic America Teresa A. Goddu Columbia University Press, 1997
The Gothic David Punter and Glennis Byron (Editors), Blackwell Publishing, 2013
American Gothic Robert K. Martin and Eric Savoy (Editors), University of Iowa Press, 1998
Active attendance and participation 15%
Midterm (in class) 15%
Final paper (home) 70%