The Horror Story:  Spring 2006 Syllabus  English 217 Section 201

Dr. Bridget Marshall:

“How will your wonder, and that of your companions, be excited by my story!
Every sentiment will yield to your amazement.”  -- from Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland (1798)

Such wonder and amazement will be the subject of our study during this semester’s readings in the horror story. Our course will focus on creepy tales – reading, enjoying, and learning about their history.  Our texts will be mostly American, although we’ll also read the key British novels of the genre – Dracula and Frankenstein.  We will explore novels, stories, and poems that capture feelings of horror, suspense, dread, and darkness.  Typically Gothic themes of madness, death, incest, obsession, secret sins, and the supernatural will haunt our stories and our discussions.  Along the way, you will be asked to think about, talk about, and write about the themes, forms, conventions, and styles that connect the broad diversity of texts we study. 

Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:30 to 1:45 in O’Leary 414 and most other times by appointment.  E-mail me or call my office to set up a time to meet with me.
Office Phone: 978-934-4179

Required Texts:

[Note that you will need to have this text by our second class meeting]

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.) 
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.

There is a reading assignment due nearly every day.  On many occasions, I will also ask you to do a small amount of writing (a paragraph, a group of questions) before you arrive in class, so that we can get started right away with discussion.  Please keep up with the reading (and short 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.

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.  They will contact me regarding effective accommodations.  In order to speed up this process, you can also let me know in person or via e-mail.  This documentation is confidential.

I do not accept papers over e-mail or on disk.  If a paper is due, that means it is due in PRINT form, not electronically.  Do not attach documents to e-mails that you send to me unless you check with me first. 
Major Assignments & Graded Materials:



Evaluation and Grading:  Grading writing 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. 


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.  Your final grade is reduced by a grade step (i.e., an A goes to an A-, an A- becomes a B+) for every absence beyond two (2).  Extensive, excessive, or habitual lateness can also be considered an absence.

Short take-home and in-class writing assignments and quizzes will typically receive a zero, a “check,” or a “check plus.”  These credits, along with my evaluation of your classroom attendance and participation, will be included in the “Classroom Citizenship” portion of your grade.  You will receive points (which can be converted to percentages/grades) for the two papers, two exams, presentation, and choose-your-own-horror assignment.  Here is the breakdown of points for these elements of the final grade:

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. 

Semester Schedule

Below you will find the schedule for the semester.   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.


Reading and Writing DUE IN CLASS on the day listed

Tuesday 24 January

In-class read Bierce story (“The Boarded Window”)

Thursday 26 January

“The Man of Adamant,” “Young Goodman Brown” (Hawthorne) 45 – 64

Tuesday 31 January

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (Irving) 19 – 44;
“The Damned Thing”  (Bierce) 121 - 128

Thursday 2 February

“The Black Cat” (Poe) 78 – 86;
“Cat in Glass” (Etchemendy) 486 - 499

Tuesday 7 February

“A Rose for Emily” (Faulkner) 182 – 190;
“The Romance of Certain Old Clothes” (James) 103 - 120

Thursday 9 February

“Afterward” (Wharton) 129 – 156;
“The Striding Place” (Atherton) 157 - 162

Tuesday 14 February 

First Paper Due (on any story we’ve read so far)

Thursday 16 February

Shelley: Frankenstein Author’s Introduction and Preface xxiii - xxx (NOT Johnson or other editor Introduction) AND Letters 1- 4, Chapter 1 – 3 [pages 1 – 35]

Tuesday 21 February

No Class (University Monday)

Thursday 23 February

Shelley: Chapter 4 – 15 [pages 36 – 124]

Tuesday 28 February

Shelley: Frankenstein Chapter 16 – end [pages 125 – 213]

Thursday 2 March

Frankenstein critical article presentations by assigned groups

Tuesday 7 March

“The Temple” (Oates) 346 – 347;
“Little Things” (Carver) 344 – 345;
“The Lovely House” (Jackson) 204 – 225;
“The Door” (White) 199 - 203

Thursday 9 March

Mid-term in-class essay exam on all texts up to this point

March 14/16

No Class: Spring Break

Tuesday 21 March

Introduction and “The Vampire Comes to England” materials from Three Vampire Tales 1 – 67

Thursday 23 March

“The Vampyre: A Tale” (Polidori) 69 – 85 in Three Vampire Tales

Tuesday 28 March

“Carmilla” (LeFanu) 87 – 148 in Three Vampire Tales

Thursday 30 March

Dracula (Stoker) 150 – 201

Tuesday 4 April

Dracula  (Stoker) 202 – 270

Thursday 6 April

Dracula  (Stoker) 270 – 330

Tuesday 11 April

Dracula  (Stoker) 330 -460

Thursday 13 April

Class Cancelled (I’m at a conference)
Work on your Second paper, ideally meeting with a peer revising group.

Tuesday 18 April

Dracula critical article presentations

Thursday 20 April

Second Paper Due
In-class: work on poems

Tuesday 25 April

“Death in the Woods” (Anderson) 163 – 174;
“The Reach” (King) 378 - 397

Thursday 27 April

“The Yellow Wallpaper” (Gilman) 87 – 102
“Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams” (Plath) 286 - 300

Tuesday 2 May

“The Outsider” (Lovecraft) 175 - 181
“The Reencounter” (Singer) 236 – 241
“Replacements” (Tuttle) 460 - 474

Thursday 4 May

“In the Icebound Hot House” (Goyen) 242 – 252;
“Shattered Like a Glass Goblin” (Ellison) 315 - 324

Tuesday 9 May

Last Day of Class:
“Subsoil” (Baker) 533 - 544
DUE: Choose-Your-Own-Horror Assignment (story & 2-page response)

Thursday 11 May

No Class: Friday Schedule


Final Exam day: Comprehensive final exam, weighted towards material from the second half of the semester 

About Academic Honesty

All University policies on plagiarism apply to all writing assignments in this course.  This means that if you plagiarize 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.  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.