PHILOSOPHY OF THE GOTHIC IMAGINATION  

(AKA: SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR)

 

                                                

 

 SYLLABUS                                    SCHEDULE OF TOPICS  

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

     

 

FILMS ASSIGNED FOR COURSE (in order of discussion in class):

Fight Club

    Questions

                   -- How does the first half of the movie critique the shallowness of modern life?  What specific criticisms does it make?

                   -- In the second half of the movie, how does Tyler Durden go to the opposite extreme?

2001: A Space Odyssey

     Questions:

                     -- How does the movie portray technology, from the bone club to the space station to HAL?  Is technology seen as wholly beneficial, or also menacing?

                     -- How is the modern world portrayed: as a utopia, or as something less ideal?

                     -- What is the relation between the 3 parts of the movie: the ape-men, the modern world, and the future world/Star Child?

Alien

     Questions:

                   Think about the contrast between 2001 and Alien in terms of the look & design of the spaceship, and the nature of the villain (HAL versus the alien life form).

The Terminator

     How does the Terminator compare with HAL?  How does it differ from human beings?  Is emotion a strength or a weakness of humans?

Chinatown

       

Psycho

Deliverance

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Halloween

 

REQUIRED TEXTS 

Isaac Asimov, Foundation

Online texts: 3 classic Greek tragedies, Prometheus, Bacchae, Oedipus The King

 

ARTICLES AND SHORT STORIES:

Required:

Clarke's interpretation of Hal's breakdown: Link to excerpt from Clarke's 2001

Shirley Jackson, "The Lottery"

Edgar Allen Poe: available at http://poestories.com/stories.php 

                 Detective stories:  "Murders in the Rue Morgue," "The Purloined Letter" (See Notes on The Purloined Letter);

                 Horror stories: "The Cask of Amontillado", "The Masque of the Red Death"

 

Bakhtin, "Rabelais and His World," excerpts: http://artemis.austincollege.edu/acad/english/bbarrie/shakespeare/bakhtin_rab.html

 

 

 

Recommended:

Carol Clover, "Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film," Representations 1987 (available on JSTOR*)

Noel Carroll, "The Nature of Horror" (1987) (available on JSTOR*)

* JSTOR instructions: go to UML homepage, then to Libraries, then under site index click on 'J', then select JSTOR.  Click on "Search", then enter search terms (e.g., Carol Clover Her Body).

 

FURTHER READING/current issues

New York Times article on Fight Club:

 http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/08/movies/homevideo/08lim.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper

New York Times article on Deliverance:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/books/25dickey.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=deliverance&st=cse

Boston Globe article on the neuroscience of horror films:

http://www.boston.com/news/health/articles/2009/10/31/why_is_getting_scared_silly_sometimes_such_fun/