The Gothic Tradition in Literature

Spring 2011 Syllabus 

Dr. Bridget Marshall, University of Massachusetts, Lowell


Class Meetings: Mondays and Wednesdays 12:30 – 1:45

Office Hours: Due to construction on the 4th floor of O’Leary, I’ll need to make appointments to meet with students.  Please talk to me before or after class, or e-mail me to set up a time and place to meet.  I am typically available in our classroom both before and after class for quick questions.

Phone: 978.934.4179                      E-mail: Website:


“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.  Our six major novels are from both England and America, and span the late 18th to the 20th century.  Our study will primarily focus on the form of the novel, with some readings from other Gothic documents, such as poetry, short stories, and essays.  We will also read critical excerpts that have helped to define the genre in literary studies. 


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.  Take a look at your schedule and make sure that you have time to read a high volume of pages.  If you can’t commit to the reading, this is not the class for you.

Course Goals:

"  To become familiar with the history of the gothic genre, and its place in literary and cultural history

"  To make connections between the historical genre and modern day manifestations of it

"  To develop skills of close and careful reading

"  To enhance discussion skills by participating in classroom discussion

"  To practice reading on one’s own by choosing one book outside of the syllabus

"  To improve presentation skills with an end-of semester paper presentation

"  To develop writing and research skills through developing a final paper


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 as soon as possible.  Please note that their office has moved to NORTH campus, Cumnock Hall C6, phone: 978-934-4574, e-mail: This documentation is confidential.

A note on classroom conduct:

In this class, and in all classes at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, 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.

University Cancellation Line: 978-934-2121

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.

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: see 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 e-mail to schedule an appointment.


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. The information below comes from the University’s official policy, which can be found online:

Academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to:

·       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 in this course, 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


Matthew Lewis: The Monk

Dover Thrift Edition $3.50

ISBN-10: 0486432149

ISBN-13: 978-0486432144


Charles Brockden Brown: Edgar Huntly

Penguin Classics: $11.95

ISBN-10: 0140390626

ISBN-13: 978-0140390629


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


PLUS one additional novel of your choice (further info TBA).


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.


Due in class (reading completed)

Monday 24 January

First Day of Class Introductions and such

Wednesday 26 January

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

Monday 31 January

The Castle of Otranto: Chapter 3 – end [pages 61 – 106]

One-pager: Group 1

Wednesday 2 February

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

One-pager: Group 2

Monday 7 February

The Monk: Volume I Chapter 3 through all of Volume II [pages 58 – 183]

One-pager: Group 3

Wednesday 9 February

The Monk: Volume III Chapters 1 and 2 [pages 183 – 225]

One-pager: Group 1

Monday 14 February

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

One-pager: Group 2

Wednesday 16 February

Selection of critical articles (handouts)


Monday 21 February


Wednesday 23 February

First paper due

[also: start reading Edgar Huntly – it’s long!]


Due in class (reading completed)

Monday 28 February

Edgar Huntly: beginning through chapter 13 (inclusive) [pages 1 – 132]

One-pager: Group 3

Wednesday 2 March

Edgar Huntly: Chapter 14 – 18 (inclusive) [pages 133 – 183]

One-pager: Group 1

Monday 7 March

Edgar Huntly: Chapter 19 through end [pages 184 – 285]

One-pager: Group 2

Wednesday 9 March

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

March 14/16

No Class: Spring Break


Monday 21 March

Frankenstein Chapter 8 – end [pages 68 – 213]

One-pager: Group 3

Wednesday 23 March

Selection of critical excerpts (handouts)


Monday 28 March

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

One-pager: Group 1

Wednesday 30 March

Jekyll and Hyde: “The Last Night” – end [pages 41 – 84]

One-pager: Group 2

Monday 4 April

Other Gothic Documents: Short Stories & Essays (handouts)

Wednesday 6 April

Other Gothic Documents: Poetry (handouts)

Monday 11 April

Second Short Paper Due today

In class: meet with your group for exam review presentations

Wednesday 13 April

Exam review with small group presentations on our major novels


Monday 18 April


Wednesday 20 April

In-Class EXAM Today

Monday 25 April

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

One-pager: Group 3

Wednesday 27 April

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


Monday 2


Final Project Presentations

Wednesday 4 May

More Presentations

Monday 9


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

Monday 16 May

Final Project Paper Due


General Advice & Information:


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, personal robot assistants, 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.  I definitely noticed.  Like a gothic villain, I am always paying attention to your every move.  Well, not really, but I was wondering if anyone was actually going to read the syllabus this closely all the way to the end.  But seriously, if you’ve missed a class, see me to get any missed materials.


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.  An “extension” is something you ask for BEFORE a paper is due.  When you ask for extra time on the day a paper is due (or in the days after it was due), that is called “late.”  Late papers are subject to a grade reduction at my discretion, and I do not provide comments on late papers.


A special warning regarding the Gothic:


The reading assignments for this course are long, partly because this is an upper-level English course, but also due to the nature of Gothic novels (which, as you will soon learn, tend towards the thick side!).  If you cannot commit to reading the assignments, please drop the course.  While the assignments are long and may make you miserable, you (and your classmates, and your professor) will be much more miserable if you stay in the class and can’t keep up with the assignments.  If this semester is a heavy load for you (either in your other courses or your personal life), take a close look at the syllabus and the book list; you might want to consider another class.  If you’re just here because you like scary stories, you might be better off in a 200-level course such as “The Horror Story,” where I (and other professors too) teach similar texts  but at a less crazy pace.