SoSe 15: Dark Countries: Gothic Cartographies of America
Mary Ann Snyder-Körber
Terror, horror, and madwomen haunting your attic. These are some of the classic components of the gothic writing mode that we will be considering in its translation from European traditions to ... read more
Terror, horror, and madwomen haunting your attic. These are some of the classic components of the gothic writing mode that we will be considering in its translation from European traditions to American contexts. More particularly, we will be looking at how the gothic provides new-world writers with the means for drawing out the "darker" dimensions of US-American history: from genocidal land theft to the legacy of race-chattel slavery.
Our journey begins with British writers like Ann Radcliffe and Matthew Lewis (in brief excerpts). We then cross the Atlantic to analyze Charles Brockden Brown's Edgar Huntly (1799) as the beginning of an American gothic tradition in the late eighteenth century that continues in the nineteenth-century with novels such as Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables (1851). The course concludes by looking back at the early America gothic tradition from the vantage point of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Concretely, we will be reading Toni Morrison's neo-slave narrative and ghost story Beloved (1987) and considering recent popular cultural narratives that have been linked to the gothic such as narratives of domestic captivity and figurations of the serial killer.
Required Reading: Please purchase Edgar Huntly, The House of the Seven Gables, and Beloved. If possible, get started on your reading before the semester begins (eighteenth-century novels aren't really last-minute, beach-reading material). I strongly recommend the edition of Edgar Huntly edited by Phillip Barnard and Stephen Shapiro (Hackett ISBN: 0872208532). Otherwise, any reasonably priced new or used edition is fine. All other texts will be made available via Blackboard.
Recommended Reading: David Botting's The Gothic (1996) and David Punter and Glennis Byron's The Gothic (2004) not only have the same title. They are also both good introductions to central themes and authors.