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Please note: Honors Program students may register for one honors course per semester. Registration begins on April 12.

Fall Semester 2021

  • HON 119HA — Fear & Form: American Gothic
    • Dr. Tracie Guzzio
    • MWF 10 – 10:50, in person 
    • 3 Credits

    This course examines significant works of American culture and literature that are considered “gothic.” However, it is not about style, genre, or even period. The idea of gothic transcends a historical era, representing our cultural anxieties about our character and society.  It reveals the horrors of our past, while it highlights our fears of the future. Therefore, the gothic can be found in the Puritan beginnings; in European first contact with the wilderness; in the haunted landscape of Southern slave plantations; in our environmental disasters; in our suburbs; in our current racial conflicts; and in our definitions of our own humanity. The American gothic is also an expression of the human psyche and a reflection of sin, guilt, and violence both as individuals and as Americans. As Leslie Fiedler points out, this is a “Literature of darkness and the grotesque in the land of light and affirmation.”  In this seminar we will come to understand the historical roots of the gothic in American culture, and its continuing appearance and transformation in the contemporary world. We will trace this narrative from the Salem Witch trials to the film, “Get Out”.

    We will also focus on American literature and popular culture’s unique contribution to this narrative: the domestic gothic, female gothic, racial gothic, suburban gothic, and apocalyptic gothic. As a general rule, students are incredibly responsive to gothic tales and images.  Our goal, as a class, will be to contextualize those responses within a historical framework and to articulate what both delights and disturbs us about the gothic.


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