The Horror Story

Fall 2006 Syllabus 

English 42.217 Section 201


Dr. Bridget Marshall:

Web site:


“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. 


Class Meetings: Tuesdays and Thursdays 11 am to 12:15 pm

Office Hours & Location: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 3 pm 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:

Š          American Gothic Tales ed. Joyce Carol Oates (this edition required) $18.00

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

Š          Three Vampire Tales ed. Anne Williams (this edition required) $15.00

Š          Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (any edition, but the ordered one is the cheapest out there)  $4.95

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 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.


I do not accept papers over e-mail or on disk.  If a paper is due, that means it is due in printed, hard-copy form, not electronically.  Do not attach documents to e-mails that you send to me unless you check with me first. 

About Academic Honesty:

All University policies on plagiarism and academic dishonest (cheating) apply to all assignments in this course.  If you plagiarize or cheat 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:

1)       Direct quotation or word-for-word copying of all or part of the work of another without identification or acknowledgment of the quoted work

2)       Extensive use of acknowledged quotation from the work of others which is joined together by a few words or lines of one’s own text.

3)       An abbreviated restatement of someone else’s analysis or conclusion, however skillfully paraphrased, without acknowledgment that another person’s text has been the basis for the recapitulation.

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.

Major Assignments & Graded Materials:

Š          Two Papers:  These should be focused essays of about 3 to 4 pages, illustrating your knowledge of and interest in a particular text that we have read in the class so far.  Proper MLA-style is required.

Š          Two Exams:  The essay exams will be open textbook, so that you can quote original sources.  You may mark up passages in your book, but you will not have other notes available during the exam. 

Š          Group Presentation:  Groups of 3 to 4 students will prepare one 10 minute presentation (including a handout for the entire class) on a critical article about one of our two major novels (Frankenstein or Dracula).  I will provide more information as the presentation dates approach.

Š          Choose-Your-Own-Horror-Story:  By the end of the semester, you must find (and read) one horror story that is not included on the syllabus.   Write 2 pages about how it fits with any other text we’ve read for class, and describe how would you teach the text.  You’ll also need to get me a copy of the story.  As an alternate, creative assignment, you may choose to write a horror story.  Further details as the deadline approaches.


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.


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. 


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. 


Breakdown of points for the final grade:


Paper 1: 15%

Paper 2: 20%

First Exam: 15%

Second Exam: 20%

Presentation: 10%

Choose-your-own-horror: 5%

Classroom Citizenship: 15%



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 and below


I do not grade “on a curve.”  This means that I do not decide how many A’s (or how many F’s) will be assigned.  If everyone does A-level work, everyone will earn an A for the course.  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

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. 

Tuesday 5 September

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

Thursday 7 September

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

Tuesday 12 September

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (Irving) 19 – 44;

“The Damned Thing”  (Bierce) 121 - 128

Thursday 14 September

“The Black Cat” (Poe) 78 – 86;

“Cat in Glass” (Etchemendy) 486 - 499

Tuesday 19 September

“The Outsider” (Lovecraft) 175 – 181

“The Lonesome Place” (Derleth) 191 - 198

Thursday 21 September

“The Girl Who Loved Animals”  (McAllister) 500 - 517

“The Anatomy of Desire” (L’Heureux) 339 - 343

Tuesday 26 September 

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

Thursday 28 September

Shelley: Frankenstein Author’s Introduction and Preface xxiii - xxx and Letters 1- 4, Chapter 1 – 3 [pages 1 – 35]

Tuesday 3 October

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

Thursday 5 October

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

Tuesday 10 October

No Class (University Monday)


Thursday 12 October

Frankenstein critical article presentations by assigned groups

Tuesday 17 October

“The Temple” (Oates) 346 – 347;

“Little Things” (Carver) 344 – 345

Thursday 19 October

First Exam (on all texts up to this point)

Tuesday 24 October

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

Thursday 26 October

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

Tuesday 31 October

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

Thursday 2 November

Dracula (Stoker) 150 – 201

Tuesday 7 November

Dracula  (Stoker) 202 – 270


Thursday 9 November

Dracula  (Stoker) 270 – 330


Tuesday 14 November

Dracula  (Stoker) 330 -460


Thursday 16 November

Dracula critical article presentations


Tuesday 21 November

Second Paper Due

In-class: work on poems

Thursday 23 November

No Class – Thanksgiving


Tuesday 28 November

“Death in the Woods” (Anderson) 163 – 174

“The Reach” (King) 378 - 397

Thursday 30 November

“A Rose for Emily” (Faulkner) 182 – 190

Tuesday 5 December

“The Yellow Wallpaper” (Gilman) 87 – 102

“Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams” (Plath) 286 - 300

Thursday 7 December

Second Exam (on all texts since previous exam)

Tuesday 12 December

“Replacements” (Tuttle) 460 – 474

“Subsoil” (Baker) 533 – 544

Thursday 14 December

Last Day of Class:

DUE: Choose-Your-Own-Horror Assignment (story & 2-page response)