The Gothic Tradition in Literature
Fall 2007 Syllabus 
Dr. Bridget Marshall
Class Meetings: Tuesdays and Thursdays 11 – 12:15
Office Hours & Location:  O’Leary 414.  E-mail me or call my office for an appointment.
Office Phone: 978-934-4179
Web site:

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear.” -- H.P. Lovecraft

Our course will explore how texts exploit this oldest and strongest emotion through well-known tropes of terror; haunted houses, monsters, ghosts, ghouls, madmen, madwomen, specters, vampires, werewolves, and a wide variety of other creepy, mysterious, and dark things will fill our semester’s texts.  This course will consider works that fall under the very broad genre known as “The Gothic.”  As this genre is one of highly contested boundaries, we will consider how to define the Gothic, and what exactly constitutes this form.  We will look at texts from both England and America, and spanning from the late 18th century to our own times.  Our study will focus on the form of the novel, and the development and emergence of the gothic novel from its beginnings in England to its contemporary manifestations in the United States.

This is a 300-level English course with an ambitious reading list and several major writing assignments; you will need to keep up with the readings and be prepared for every class meeting.

Course Goals:

Course Requirements: 

Attendance is required.  This is not a correspondence course.  You can fail the course for not attending class.  You have two (2) “free” absences to use as you need.   For every class beyond those two that you miss, your final grade for the class will be lowered one grade step.  (I.e., if you have a “B” for the class, but have missed 4 classes, you will receive a “C+” for your final grade.)  Excessive or habitual lateness can also count as an absence.
Good classroom citizenship is required.  Good classroom citizenship goes beyond just “participation” in the sense of raising your hand a lot.  It includes sharing your thoughts and ACTIVELY LISTENING to the thoughts and comments of your peers.  Please be considerate of your classmates and make the classroom a space where everyone can speak their mind.  We will have both full-class discussions and small group work.  If you are not particularly comfortable speaking in the full-class discussion, be sure you are making up for it in the smaller group discussions.  Also, as a courtesy to everyone in the room, please turn off your cell phone before class begins.  If you must eat or drink during class, please be respectful of those around you, and of those who come after you by cleaning up after yourself.

There is a (sometimes quite long) reading assignment due every day. You must keep up with the reading (and writing) assignments.  I reserve the right to give reading quizzes as necessary to prod your reading, though I would rather not resort to such ploys.

Instructional Resources and Disability Accommodations: The Centers for Learning and Academic Support Services provide many resources, including tutoring in writing:  In accordance with University policy and the ADA, I will provide accommodation for students with documented disabilities.  If you have a disability, please contact the Office of Disability Services: McGauvran 363, phone: (978) 934-4338 as soon as possible. This documentation is confidential.

Major Assignments & Graded Materials:

Four “One-pagers”: One-third of the class will have a one-pager due on most days.  One-pagers include at least one quote from the text and also questions – either for clarification or discussion.  See the handout for more details on the requirements for the one-pagers.
Two short (4 page) papers.  These short papers will be close readings of two different scenes and will rely upon your careful reading of passages from the text; they do not require outside research.  They are, however, formal papers, unlike the one-pagers described above.  More details will appear on an assignment handout.
One in-class “blue book” essay exam.
Read one gothic novel not included on the syllabus.  I have included a list of possible books at the end of this syllabus.  You can find one of your own, subject to my approval.
Create a presentation for the last week of class on your chosen novel.  Your presentation will be 5 – 10 minutes long, and you must have a handout to share with the rest of the class.  The presentation is a chance to share your ideas for the final paper and teach others in the class about a text outside of the regular reading list.
Write a Final Paper (8 pages) on one gothic novel not on the syllabus. You should read the novel and connect it to the history of the gothic as we have explored it in the course.  This paper is not a plot summary; it should focus on an analysis of the novel, including how it fits into the larger genre of the gothic.

Evaluation and Grading: 

Grading is my least favorite aspect of the course; however, grades are necessary, not only to the University, but also in many cases in order to motivate students. 

Breakdown of points for the final grade:
Classroom Citizenship: 15%
One-pagers: 10%
Paper 1: 15%
Paper 2: 20%
Exam: 20%
Final Project (paper & presentation): 20%


Final grade ranges:
A: 94 – 100
A-: 90 – 93
B+: 87 – 89
B: 83 – 86
B-: 80 – 82
C+: 77 – 79
C: 73 - 76
C-: 70 - 72
D: 61 – 69………….F: 60 & below

Please keep in mind the attendance policy (already detailed in the “Requirements” section above).  Absenteeism is the leading cause of poor grades in my courses. Excellent attendance and participation will have a positive effect on your grade, particularly if you end up on a “borderline” between two grades.

You are responsible for completing all readings on the date they are due.  It’s fairly easy to see who has and who hasn’t done the reading assignments (whether through quiz performance or by observing class participation).  Completing the readings is part of your job as a member of our class.  Your completion of the reading assignments, scores on quizzes, short take-home assignments, and in-class writing assignments, along with my evaluation of your participation in classroom discussion and activities, will be included in the “Classroom Citizenship” portion of your grade. 

When I return papers and exams, they will indicate a number (points you earned out of total points possible for the assignment), which you can translate into a percentage and/or a grade.  I record only the number in my book until the final grade tabulation.  I also look favorably on improvement over the course of the semester.

If you have a concern about a grade or your standing in the class, I am quite happy to talk with you.  This type of conversation is best suited to an individual conference.  Please feel free to drop by my office hours, or e-mail (or call my office) to schedule an appointment at another time.

A final word on the unpleasant part of grades, specifically the bad ones:  I hope that all my students will strive to do their best work in this course, but if you are determined to do only the minimal amount of work and get the minimum passing grade, you might want to know what the bottom line is.  This much is nonnegotiable: you are not eligible for a passing grade of D unless you have attended at least 11 of 14 weeks worth of classes, and completed 90% of the assignments. 

About Academic Honesty:

All University policies on plagiarism and academic dishonesty (cheating) apply to all assignments in this course.  If you plagiarize or cheat on an assignment, you will receive an “F” for the course, and you are subject to other discipline (including expulsion from the University) at the discretion of the instructor and the University. 

Please keep in mind that even if you write some part or even “most” of the paper, if some portion of the paper is copied from another source without proper attribution, (i.e., if you “only plagiarize a little”) you will still get an “F” for the course.  Don’t plagiarize at all.

Here is the University’s definition of plagiarism, as found in the Academic Rules & Regulations, available online at
Plagiarism is defined as:

Unintentional plagiarism is still plagiarism.  You must cite all sources that you use, including online sources.  Also, remember that “using” a source includes DIRECTLY QUOTING, PARAPHRASING, AND USING IDEAS from any source.  There is nothing wrong with “getting help” from other writers, just be sure to acknowledge it by using quotation marks or author/page citation appropriately.  Please take the time to give proper credit to the work of other authors.  It is a matter of respect – for yourself, for other authors, for your classmates, and for me.

I know that it is easy to find information and indeed whole papers on the internet.  You should know that it is also easy for me to find these sources.  If I suspect you’ve done this, I will take the time to find the source, and there is every likelihood you will be caught.  Please don’t waste your time or mine by plagiarizing a paper.  If you’re having difficulty with a writing assignment, please talk to me before the day it is due.

Required Texts:

Horace Walpole: The Castle of Otranto. 
Dover Thrift Edition $2.50
ISBN-10: 0486434125
ISBN-13: 978-0486434124

William Godwin: Caleb Williams
Penguin Classics $14.00
ISBN-10: 0141441232
ISBN-13: 978-0141441238

Matthew Lewis: The Monk
Dover Thrift Edition $3.50
ISBN-10: 0486432149
ISBN-13: 978-0486432144

Mary Shelley: Frankenstein
Bantam Classic: $4.95
ISBN-10: 0553212478
ISBN-13: 978-0553212471

Robert L. Stevenson: Jekyll and Hyde
Bantam Classics $3.95
ISBN-10: 055321277X
ISBN-13: 978-0553212778

Henry James: The Turn of the Screw
Dover Thrift Editions $1.50
ISBN-10: 0486266842
ISBN-13: 978-0486266848

Toni Morrison Beloved
Vintage Reprint $13.95
ISBN-10: 1400033411
ISBN-13: 978-1400033416

PLUS one additional novel of your choice; see the list on the final paper assignment sheet

There are numerous editions of many of these books; I have tried to order the cheapest editions available.  If you already own an alternate edition, or you find another cheap edition, you can continue to use it.  However, please make sure that your edition is UNABRIDGED (there are many shortened, edited, and expurgated versions of these books out there).  

Semester Schedule

If you miss a class, you are still responsible for what was due on the day(s) you missed and on the day you return, so always consult the syllabus (or a classmate, or me) if you have missed or will miss a class. Page numbers listed in brackets indicate the page numbers in the version of the text that I ordered for the class.

Thursday 6 September

First Day of Class

Tuesday 11 September

The Castle of Otranto: Intro, Chapters 1 & 2 (inclusive) [pages 1 – 61]

Thursday 13 September

The Castle of Otranto: Chapter 3 – end [pages 61 – 106]
One-pager: Group 1

Tuesday 18 September

Caleb Williams: Volume I (all of Volume I) [pages 1 – 109]
One-pager: Group 2

Thursday 20 September

Caleb Williams: Volume II chapter 1 through (including) chapter 7 [pages 111 – 152]
One-pager: Group 3

Tuesday 25 September

Caleb Williams: Volume II chapter 8 through (including) Volume III chapter 6 [pages 152 – 255]

Thursday 27 September

Caleb Williams: Volume III chapter 7 through the end, including Appendix I [pages 255 – 346]

Tuesday 2 October

First Short Paper Due
Also: Start looking for your outside novel!

Thursday 4 October

The Monk: Volume I Chapters 1 and 2 [pages 1 -58]

Tuesday 9 October

The Monk: Volume I Chapter 3 through all of Volume II [pages 58 – 183]
One-pager: Group 1

Thursday 11 October

The Monk: Volume III Chapters 1 and 2 [pages 183 – 225]
One-pager: Group 2

Tuesday 16 October

The Monk: Volume III to the end [pages 225 – 291]

Thursday 18 October

Frankenstein Author’s Introduction and Preface xxiii - xxx and Letters 1- 4, Chapter 1 – 11 (inclusive) [pages 1 - 97]
One-pager: Group 3

Tuesday 23 October

Shelley: Frankenstein Chapter 12 – end [pages 98 – 213]

Thursday 25 October

Second Short Paper Due
Also: You should have selected your outside novel by now!

Tuesday 30 October

Jekyll and Hyde: beginning – Dr. Lanyon’s Narrative [pages 1 – 54]
One-pager: Group 1

Thursday 1 November

Jekyll and Hyde: Dr. Lanyon’s Narrative – end [pages 55 – 84]
One-pager: Group 2

Tuesday 6 November

The Turn of the Screw: Chapters 1- 12 (inclusive) [pages 1 – 49]
One-pager: Group 3

Thursday 8 November

The Turn of the Screw: Chapters 12 – end [pages 49 – 87]

Tuesday 13 November

In-Class EXAM Today

Thursday 15 November

Start reading Beloved

Tuesday 20 November

NO CLASS: ONLINE ASSIGNMENT FOR TODAY – short writing on Beloved exchanged online w/ peer; also, a short e-mail to me about your final project.

Thursday 22 November


Tuesday 27 November

Beloved Part One [pages 1 -195] Guest Lecture: Dr. Szczesiul
One-pager: Group 1

Thursday 29 November

Beloved Part Two  [pages 198 – 277]  Guest Lecture: Dr. Szczesiul
One-pager: Group 2

Tuesday 4 December

Beloved Part Three [pages 281 – 324] Guest Lecture: Dr. Szczesiul
One-pager: Group 3


Thursday 6 December


Tuesday 11 December

More Presentations

Thursday 13 December

Last Day of Class: More Presentations & other wrap-up

Final Exam Date (TBA)

Final Project Paper Due

Some novels you might consider for your final project:
William Beckford Vathek (1786)
Ann Radcliffe The Romance of the Forest (1791)
Ann Radcliffe The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)
Ann Radcliffe The Italian (1798)
Charles Brockden Brown: Ormond (1798)
Charles Brockden Brown Wieland (1798)
Maria Edgeworth The Castle Rackrent (1800)
Jane Austen Northanger Abbey (1803)
Sydney Owenson The Wild Irish Girl (1806)
Charlotte Dacre Zofloya or the Moor (1806)
Percy Shelley Zastrozzi (1810)
Percy Shelley St Irvyne (1811)
Lady Caroline Lamb Glenarvon (1816)
Thomas Love Peacock Nightmare Abbey (1818)
Mary Shelley Matilda (1819)
Charles Maturin Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)
James Hogg Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824)
Emily Bronte Wuthering Heights (1847)
Nathaniel Hawthorne: The House of the Seven Gables (1851)
Wilkie Collins The Woman in White (1860)
Sheridan LeFanu Uncle Silas (1864)
Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)
William Godwin St. Leon (1899)
Bram Stoker: The Lair of the White Worm (1911)

General Advice to Students:
Come to class prepared to work.  This means several things:
1) You should have completed the assigned readings, and any associated writing.  You might even have notes in your book, underlining of passages, or page markers for interesting spots in the reading.
2) You should be prepared to listen and talk in discussion.  This means you shouldn’t come to our class and take a nap, or sit sullenly, or complete your calculus homework.
3) You should avoid distractions during class.  Distractions include things like small pets, cell phones and text messaging devices, notes to classmates, i-pods, or any other gadget that will engage your brain in something other than the academic discussion in the classroom.  While you may think I don’t notice, I do, and so do your classmates.  It’s distracting for you, but also for those around you.

When you don’t come to class (for whatever reason) it is your responsibility to find out the work that was missed, including any handouts, in-class activities, or changes to the syllabus.  If you can do this via e-mail before the next class meeting, that’s great.  If you can’t, you should definitely come speak with me before class, after class, or in my office hours.    In any case, don’t try to avoid me, hoping that I didn’t notice you were absent. 

If you need extra time for an assignment, for whatever reason, it is better to ask early.  I do not automatically give extensions; however, I am a reasonable person, and you should ask for help or time if you need it.  I would rather have a late paper than no paper at all; I would rather have no paper at all than a plagiarized paper.  Late papers are subject to a grade reduction at my discretion, and I do not provide comments on late papers.
While much of what I’ve said above is obvious, I do not mean it to sound condescending; I assure you that every one of the things I’ve mentioned above has been a problem for some student I’ve had in one of my classes.  This is just a chance to remind you of how to be the good student you can be.