The Gothic Tradition in Literature
Spring 2009 Syllabus 
Dr. Bridget Marshall, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
Class Meetings: Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:30 to 10:45
Office Hours & Location: Tues/Thurs 11 – 12:15 and by appointment in O’Leary Library 415
Office Phone: 978-934-4179
E-mail:         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 essay exam.
Read one gothic novel not included on the syllabus.  More on this later.
Create a presentation for the last week of class on your chosen novel.  Your presentation will be about 5 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.

Please note: if you are determined to do only the minimal amount of work and get the minimum passing grade, 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 academic dishonesty apply to all assignments in this course. As explained in the University’s official policy, academic dishonesty includes:

Cheating - use, or attempted use, of trickery, artifice, deception, breach of confidence, fraud, or misrepresentation of one's academic work.
Fabrication - falsification or invention of any information or citation in any academic exercise.
Plagiarism - representing the words or ideas of another as one's own work in any academic exercise.
Facilitating dishonesty - helping or attempting to help another commit an act of academic dishonesty, including substituting for another in an examination, misrepresenting oneself, or allowing others to represent as their own one's papers, reports, or academic works.

If you plagiarize or cheat on an assignment, you will receive an “F” for this 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.

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.  If the University closes, upon return to class, the items for both the missed class and the day of return class are due.  In the case of an exam or paper due on a day the University closes, the exam or paper is due on the day we return to class.  Please e-mail me if you have questions about assignments due for missed classes.
Page numbers listed in brackets indicate the page numbers in the version of the text that I ordered for the class.

Tuesday 27 January

First Day of Class

Thursday 29 January

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

Tuesday 3 February

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

Thursday 5 February

Caleb Williams: Volume I through (including) chapter 8 [pages 1 – 69]
One-pager: Group 2

Tuesday 10 February

Caleb Williams: Vol. 1 chapter 9 through (including) Vol. II chapter 7 [pages 69 – 152]
One-pager: Group 3

Thursday 12 February

Caleb Williams: Vol. II chapter 8 through (including) the end of Vol. II [pages 152 – 213]

Tuesday 17 February

No Class – University Monday Schedule

Thursday 19 February

Caleb Williams: Volume III through the end, including Appendix I [pages 215 – 346]

Tuesday 24 February

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

Thursday 26 February

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

Tuesday 3 March

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

Thursday 5 March

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

Tuesday 10 March

The Monk: Volume III to the end [pages 225 – 291]
One-pager: Group 3

Thursday 12 March

Frankenstein Author’s Introduction and Preface xxiii - xxx and Letters 1- 4, Chapter 1 – 7 (inclusive) [pages 1 - 67]

March 17/19

No Class: Spring Break

Tuesday 24 March

Shelley: Frankenstein Chapter 8 – end [pages 68 – 213]

Thursday 26 March

Jekyll and Hyde: beginning – “Incident at the Window” (inclusive) [pages 1 – 40]
One-pager: Group 1

Tuesday 31 March

Jekyll and Hyde: “The Last Night” – end [pages 41 – 84]
One-pager: Group 2

Thursday 2 April

The Turn of the Screw: Chapters 1- 9 (inclusive) [pages 1 – 40]
One-pager: Group 3

Tuesday 7 April

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

Thursday 9 April

Second Short Paper Due in my mailbox during normal class time
Class cancelled today (I’m at a conference)
Meet with your group for exam review presentations

Tuesday 14 April

Exam review with small group presentations

Thursday 16 April

In-Class EXAM Today

Tuesday 21 April

Beloved Part One first half [pages 1 -124]
One-pager: Group 1

Thursday 23 April

Beloved Part One completed [pages 145 – 198]
One-pager: Group 2

Tuesday 28 April

Beloved Part Two  [pages 198 – 277] 
One-pager: Group 3

Thursday 30 April

Beloved Part Three [pages 281 – 324]

Tuesday 5


Thursday 7

More Presentations

Tuesday 12

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

Monday 18 May

Final Project Paper Due


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.  Late papers are subject to a grade reduction at my discretion, and I do not provide comments on late papers.

Students are expected to exhibit professional and respectful behavior that is conducive to a mutually beneficial learning environment in the classroom.

Examples of inappropriate behavior include : text messaging, listening to music, cell phone use (other than the campus alert system), late arrivals, early departures, use of laptops for other than class purposes, disrespectful comments or behavior, intentional disruptions, failure to follow faculty directives. 

Students in violation of these standards may be asked to leave class and/or be referred to the Dean of Students for disciplinary action.