This course examines the gothic mode as a series of discursive and iconographic attempts to chart, confront, or defuse the "transgressive," however this category is constructed by the dominant culture at stake. We will trace gothic strategies as they elaborate and reinvent definitions of the opposed categories self/other, civilization/barbarism, sublimity/abjection, beauty/horror, and holiness/blasphemy.

 We will begin with gothic precursors Dante and Shakespeare, proceed to the late eighteenth and nineteenth-century flowering of the gothic sensibility as a reaction against the positivism of European Enlightened philosophies, and end with twentieth-century filmic and literary re-appropriations of the gothic.  Some topics to be covered: 1) shifting allegories of vampirism (e.g., as expressing the repulsion and allure of the evil without and within; terror of political/sexual/social contamination), from Dante to the present day; 2) gothic edifices and landscapes as metaphors for the monstrous otherness within oneself; 3)defamiliarized domesticity and mutations of the family as expressions of cultural anxiety; 3) fin-de-siècle Anglo-European culture, necrophilic aesthetics, and misogynist backlash; 4) hauntings as a return of the psychosexual/historical repressed; 6) postmodernist revisions of the gothic as registering our fin-de-siècle concerns (e.g., the recent Institute for Contemporary Art exhibit on the gothic)

Gothic Precursors

Inferno, Dante; Gustave Doré's engravings of Inferno

Macbeth, Shakespeare

 The Flowering of the Gothic

Tales, E.T.A. Hoffmann

The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings, Edgar Allan Poe

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

Dracula, Bram Stoker

 The Postmodernist Gothic

The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter

The Terrible Girls, Rebecca Brown

The Letters of Mina Harker, Dodie Bellamy

Films and Filmmakers - Vampiric Strata

Nosferatu (Friedrich Murnau)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene)

Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren)

Blood and Roses (Roger Vadim)

The Reflecting Skin (Philip Ridley)

The Company of Wolves (Angela Carter)

The Addiction (Abel Ferrera)

The Shadow of the Vampire (Elias Merhige)

The Wisdom of Crocodiles (also known as Immortality; Po-Chih Leong)

Jan Svankmajer

The Brothers Quay


 The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari