A Syllabus for English 202.B01, Summer 2001

Gothics and Ghosts, Romance and the Supernatural
Lecturer: Dr. Ellen Moody

The semester begins May 29th; Last Day of Class will be Thursday, July 17th
when the Final Journal is Due and we have an Exam
We meet on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 4:30 to 7:10 pm, Krug Hall 7.
My e-mail addresses are: Ellen2@JimandEllen.org, ellen@moody.cx,
emoody@osf1.gmu.edu. My website address is: http://mason.gmu.edu/~emoody.

Description of Course (or, this particular English 202)

In the next 8 weeks, we will read a group of novels and stories and see films which exploit an imaginative perspective on reality known as gothic. Since the aim of this course is to learn why and how literary works have different meanings when you read them against different backgrounds, we will examine gothic art against the backgrounds of history, autobiography, genre formation, and the development of the science of medicine, evolutionary theory, psychological analysis of archetypes in human experience, and a loss of religious faith in the 19th and 20th century.

We will begin the course with a film adaptation of a ghost story, Herbert Wise's 1993 The Woman in Black, and two gothic romances, Ann Radcliffe's The Romance of the Forest (1791) and Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca (1938). Here we will define what is meant by the terms gothic, romance, and supernatural (or fantasy) and explore what is meant by "female" gothic romance and what we may infer from its typical plot-designs, character types and motifs. We will also begin looking at how the gothic emerged from a specific time and place, that of the French Revolution in Western Europe.

We will then read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus (1818, revised 1831) and Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) and "A Chapter of Dreams" (1888). We will see the 1995 Tristar film, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (directed by Kenneth Branagh; screenplay Steph Lady and Frank Darabout). This time we will see explore the use of the doppelgänger (double) in gothic and fantasy literature, connections beween a fear of science, disquiet about human nature and what lies beyond so-called natural or normal experience and the world of dreams as these emerge in classic gothic fictions which have become legendary.

Our last trio of single longer texts will be Sheridan Le Fanu's "Carmilla" (from his 1872 In a Glass Darkly, Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) and Suzy McKee Charnas's "Unicorn Tapestry" (from her 1980 The Vampire Tapestry). By this time in the term we will have read a few of the very early and more recent vampire tales found in The Penguin Book of Vampire Tales, edited by Alan Ryan. If time permits, we will see Francis Ford Coppola's 1993 Dracula which has been influenced by recent Vampire fictions which sympathize with the Count. This material will take us into an exploration of violent and transgressive sex, and the preoccupation of the gothic with death and fleshly experience in vampire tales.

Throughout the course we will also read short ghost stories as well as one literary explication of the creative process behind gothic and its relationship to our dream life. The assignments will mostly come from The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories, edited by Michael Cox and R. A. Gilbert A subgenre of the gothic, ghost tales distill fantasy in ways that highlight the preoccupations of longer more realistic gothic narratives: reading ghost stories together will enable us to explore how the gothic comes out of and speaks to primal insecurities; how it figures forth a picture of nature and the supernatural as cruel, indifferent, and mischievous; and how patterns of evil, guilt, justice provide paradigms through which we are invited to experience the uncanny.

Required Books

Required Films

Optional Film


Three Essays-Journals, One Talk and One Test: In this class you will be asked to demonstrate that you have read and thought about all the required reading by writing three good journal essays and by passing one short answer test. You will also be asked to do one short talk on a choice of ghost, horror, and vampire tales.

The Three Journal-Essays

1) You are asked to write three journal-essays outside class, one on each pair of longer texts we read. These are our "set journals" and are to be numbered. #1 is to be on a comparison of Ann Radcliffe's The Romance of the Forest with Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca; #2 is to be on a comparison of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein with Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; for #3 you have a choice of pairing Stoker's Dracula with Sheridan Le Fanu's "Carmilla" or Suzy McKee Charnas's "Unicorn Tapestry".

What is a book journal? See attachment entitled An Essay With Guidelines: Journal Essays and student models. You are asked to follow the guideliness religiously in order to explore on paper what you have thought and felt after reading a text or seeing a movie, using language that comes naturally to you communicate your ideas and feelings a genuine or sincere response of your own. The aim of the writing component in my course is to help you learn to read better and respond more thoughtfully to books and films in such a way as to communicate to others what you gained from such experiences. I invite you to learn how to weave information you gather from class or the introductory material in your books about the author's life and period, and words drawn from your text of film with your own thoughts. I require you to read or see nothing outside the required texts and movies. However, if you do not adhere to the guidelines (for example, your plot summary must not be more than 1 paragraph; your analysis of text must be 2-3 pages) I will simply return your journal unread to you with an unpleasant "F."

Due dates for the set journals: you are asked to hand your work in on the day specified in the calendar; if a journal or the story is a session late, I will take down the grade an element for every sessions it is late (a B+ becomes a B, then a B- and so on).

You can revise the journals if you like. Then if your grade for the second version is higher than the first, I average the two grades together to form a single grade for each. If your grade on the second version is the same or lower, I ignore it.

The One Five-Minute Short Talk

2) You are asked to give a 5 minute talk on a short story that will be assigned to you next Tuesday. The talks will begin the third week of the semester. The idea is to practice inventing a clear thesis-statement which is supported by concrete details from a text or your own experience.

One of the aims of this course is to guide students into leaning how to talk as well as how to write about texts in an educated way. I believe everyone can learn to write more clearly and enjoy writing more if he or she would only realise that writing is a form of communication, something that occurs in a specific social context with a real audience in mind. Often the best and most vivid writing occurs when we seem to talk on paper. You can begin to learn to do this by using the real language we use in the classroom or any other natural situation which demands coherence and clear articulation of sentences. To do well in middle class occupations outside the classroom also demands that you learn how to present yourself attractively and sell your point of view. By asking you to do a short talk you learn to attempt to communicate your thoughts to someone else in an ordered respected fashion. See student model.

The whole class will listen and try to respond; their response will tell the student whether he or she has made him or herself clear; the ensuing dialogue and the student's own later thoughts about either what happened when he or she or another student talked will (it is hoped) teach everyone something about the basis of writing -- thinking clearliy in clear language which comes naturally to the writer with the aim of communicating ideas and images to someone else. It cannot be too often said that the success of a communication depends on the reader receiving it.

To have everyone talk on a different short piece will also make the course more enjoyable. We will get all our many points of view, begin to know one another, and break up our long sessions entertainingly.

The 20 Question Short-Answer Test

3) I would prefer you to read the stories as they are assigned for then you will get the most out of the short talks. Most of them are short. However, even if you don't keep up as we go, I still want everyone to read all the assigned short fiction. Thus we will have a short answer test on all the assigned short pieces on the last day of class.

Extra Credit Journals and Compensatory Work

If you would like to bring your grade up, you can do more journals or revise the journals you have handed in. If you decide to revise a journal, the grade for the first and second versions will be averaged together to form a single grade for that journal. Extra credit' journals can be based on any two or three of the shorter ghost and vampire tales in our two anthologies. Consult me before going ahead on any of the above.

The Problem of Plagiarism

In this course a number of our texts are so commonly assigned in college courses that there are Cliff and Monarch Notes available and sites on the Internet where you may copy or buy ready-made essays; they are also popular books and there are many films adapted from them whch are available at videocassette stores. Thus I will be especially on the lookout for plagiarism. DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Plagiarism is defined by the GMU English Department as follows:

"Plagiarism means using words, opinions, or factual information from another person without giving that person credit. Writers give credit through accepted documentation styles, such as parenthetical citation, footnotes, or end notes; a simple listing of books and articles consulted is not sufficient. Plagiarism is the equivalent of intellectual robbery and cannot be tolerated in an academic setting."

If I suspect you of, or catch you at, plagiarising, I will follow the guidelines of the English department which require that I fail such a student and report him or her to the Chair of my Department. I am serious about this.

One other Requirement, One Hope, and One Self-Evident Truth

1) I ask that you attend class and do the outside work: I believe something is to be gained by coming to class, and that we all can learn a great deal from one another. Thus, I expect everyone to come faithfully, to read all assigned texts, and to see the required movies with us.

2) I hope that you participate in class. To do this you have to have read most of the text due to be read for a given session. Our class may be too large and some of the material too unfamiliar or hard for everyone to participate. Some people are shy to speak in public. So I know I will often have simply to do the talking and read aloud from the books. Nevertheless, I will try my best to ask questions which generate discussion and follow up on any questions or comments students like to make.

3) Even when you have not read a text or seen a movie, it is better to come than to cut cut class. You learn nothing when you stay away.


Your grade will be reflect the work you have done over this 8 week term. By the end of this time I should have for each student a minimum of five grades, one for each of three journals, one for a short talk, and one for the short-answer test. These grades will be averaged together to form one final grade. If a student has done extra credit journals, he or she will have more grades to be averaged in. I then take into account your attendance record; your participation in class; if you came for help if you needed it; and, those journals which showed that you cared, that you really thought about your subject and made an effort to find something out about it or to explore it and to write something intelligent and coherent and complete. I recognize the value of, respect, and reward hard work when I see it and take into account someone who has journeyed from a lesser place to a better one through effort.

How to Contact Me Outside Class

Without an Appointment

Write to me by e-mail: , & ; you can write me 24 hours a day; I look at my mail at least twice a day, and I write back. Be sure to type the e-mail address to which you wish me to send my reply at the end of your message.
You can call the phone in the office I use (993-1176) or the English office (993-1160) or leave a message in my box in the English Office, which is in Robinson Hall on the fourth floor. I have no voice mail, and there is no way you can fax me. It is well to remember I am also on campus only twice a week. The secretaries don't call me; they simply place put a note in my box. Further, leaving essays in my box is a chancy business because materials get lost this way. No-one stands guard over the boxes. Give it to the secretary, watch him or her date and put it in the correct box, and then leave. The safest speediest way to get an essay to me is to bring it to class on time and give it to me warm hand to warm hand. Make a second hard-copy of everything you write. It's worth the money.

With an Appointment

Private conferences to go over journals, and discuss reading or personal problems are available by appointment Tuesday and Thursday from 3:15 to 4:15 pm in Robinson Hall A455. Sign up on the stenography pad which will be placed on the corner of my desk every time the class meets.


Week 1: Tuesday/Thurs, May 29th & 31st

In Class: Tues, 5/29: first hour course introduction, then we'll watch 1993 Woman in Black

Outside Class: for next time have read the first third of Ann Radcliffe's The Romance of the Forest (Vol I, pp. 1-171), from Oxford Ghosts, Walter Scott's "The Tapestried Chamber" and the introductions by Cox and Gilbert to The Oxford Book of Ghost Stories and by Ryan to The Penguin Book of Vampire Tales. Be prepared to be assigned one talk for the term from one of the two volumes (see attached Short Talk Schedule for choices and dates).

In Class: Thurs, 5/31: I will assign short talks; we will define the words novel, realism, romance, gothic, and supernatural, define what is a ghost story and a vampire tale, discuss Scott's "The Tapestried Chamber" as paradigmatic ghost story, and begin discussion of The Romance of the Forest as the first gothic romance written by a woman

Outside Class: by Tues, 6/5 finish reading The Romance of the Forest; and have read from Oxford Ghosts, Amelia Edwards's "The Phantom Coach" and Sheridan LeFanu's "Squire Toby's Will".

Week 2: Tues/Thurs, June 5th & 7th

In Class: Tues, 6/5: Short Talk 1: Amelia Edwards's "The Phantom Coach'" and Short Talk 2: Sheridan LeFanu's "Squire Toby's Will". We will discuss ghost stories, and types of characters, uses of suspense, gothic motifs, and French revolutionary thought in Radcliffe's Romance of the Forest.

Outside Class: read half-way through Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca. Read also from Oxford Ghosts, M. E. Braddon's "The Shadow in the Corner" and Bram Stoker's "The Judge's House". Begin thinking about what question you will choose for Journal-Essay #1.

In Class: Thurs, 6/7: Short Talk 3: M. E. Braddon's "The Shadow in the Corner"; Short Talk 4: Bram Stoker's 'The Judge's House'. Begin discussion of Rebecca as mystery story; move on to compare it to The Romance of the Forest as two examples of female gothic romance.

Outside Class: By Tues, 6/12: finish reading Rebecca, read Chloe Chard's introduction to Oxford edition of The Romance of the Forest, and write first draft of Journal-Essay #1; read also from Oxford Ghosts, W. W. Jacobs's "The Monkey's Paw"; Mary E. Wilkins's "The Lost Ghost", and M. R. James's "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad"

Week 3: Tues/Thurs, June 12th and 14th

In Class: Tues, 6/12: Short Talk 5: W. W. Jacobs's "The Monkey's Paw" Short Talk 6: Mary E. Wilkins's "The Lost Ghost"; Short Talk 7: M. R. James's "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad". Finish discussion of The Romance of the Forest and Rebecca. Return to French revolution and talk about Edwardian gaslight fin-de-siècle era as lead-in to Frankenstein and Jekyll and Hyde legends.

Outside Class: for Thursday write final version of Journal-Essay #1. Read Maurice Hindle's introduction to Penguin Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; read also from Penguin Vampires, Robert Aickman's "Pages from a Young Girl's Journal", and from Oxford Ghosts, Edith Wharton's "Mr Jones", and Arthur Gray's "The True History of Anthony Ffryar".

In Class: Thurs, 6/14: JOURNAL #1 DUE. Short talk 8: Robert Aickman's "Pages from a Young Girl's Journal"; Short Talk 9: Edith Wharton's "Mr Jones"; Short Talk 10: Arthur Gray's "The True History of Anthony Ffryar" More on French revolution and medical science. How Shelley could have come up with this peculiar version of the undead. Show one hour of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Outside Class: By Tuesday (6/19) have read first half of Frankenstein (Vol I, pp. 13- 86). read also from Oxford Ghosts, F. Marion Crawford's "The Upper Berth" and John Buchan's "Full Circle"; from Penguin Vampires, E. F. Benson's "The Room in the Tower".

Week 4: Tues/Thurs, June 19th & 21st

In Class: Tues, 6/19: We'll read aloud one student journal. Short Talk 11: F. Marion Crawford's "The Upper Berth"; Short Talk 12: E. F. Benson's "The Room in the Tower"; Short Talk 13: John Buchan's "Full Circle". We'll finish watching Branagh's 1995 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Outside Class: by Thursday (6/21) finish reading Frankenstein (Vol 2, pp. 87-215); read also Robert Louis Stevenson's "A Chapter of Dreams", "Markheim" (in Broadview edition of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde); from Oxford Ghosts, Thomas Burke's "The Hollow Man"

In Class: Thurs, 6/21: Short Talk 14: Robert Louis Stevenon's "Markheim"; Short Talk 15: Thomas Burke's "The Hollow Man". We'll discuss Frankenstein, Stevenson's piece on the source of imaginative gothicism in dreams.

Outside Class: by Tuesday (6/26) read the whole of Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; write first draft of Journal-Essay #2; read also from Penguin Vampires Byron's "Fragment of a Novel" and James Malcolm Rymer's Varney the Vampire (excerpts from Chapters 1 & 2); M. E. Braddon's "Good Lady Ducayne", F. Marion Crawford's "For the Blood is the Life".

Week 5: Tues/Thurs, June 26th & 28th

In Class: Tues, 6/26: Short talk 16: M. E. Braddon's "Good Lady Ducayne"; Short Talk 17: F. Marion Crawford's "For Blood is the Life". We'll discuss Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and begin exploring vampire legends, myths of the undead.

Outside class: for Thursday (6/28) write final version of Journal-Essay #2; from Penguin Vampire, read Sheridan LeFanu's "Carmilla", F. Schyuler Moore, "Over the River", from Oxford Ghosts, Christopher Woodforde's "Cushi"; possibly also Richard Middleton's "On the Brighton Road".

In Class: Thurs, 6/28: JOURNAL-ESSAY #2 IS DUE. Short talk 18: F. Schyuler Moore's "Over the River; Short Talk 19: Christopher Woodforde's "Cushi". Possible Extra Credit Short Talk 19A: Richard Middleton's "On the Brighton Road". The class will discuss the blood and death aspect of the vampire myth, superstitions about witches, sympathy and hatred, and the lesbian vampire tale, Le Fanu's "Carmilla".

Outside class: For Tuesday (7/3) have read one-third way through Bram Stoker's Dracula (Chapters 1-9, pp. 10-127); also from Penguin Vampires, Algernoon Blackwood's "The Transfer" and from Oxford Ghosts, Algernoon Blackwood's "The Empty House" F. T. Rolt's "Bosworth Summit Pound"

Week 6: Tues/Thurs July 3rd & 5th

In Class. Tues, 7/3: We'll read aloud one student journal. Short Talk 20: Algernoon Blackwood's "The Transfer"; Short Talk 21: Algernoon Blackwood's "The Empty House"; Short Talk 22: F. T. Rolt's "Bosworth Summit Pound". The heterosexual angle on the supernatural and romance; we'll then turn to Stoker's Dracula

Outside Class: For Thurs, 7/5, read second third of Dracula (Chapters 10-18, pp. 128-254); read from Oxford Ghosts, A. M. Burrage's "Smee", Horace Walpole's "The Lost Ghost".

In Class. Thurs, 7/5: Short Talk 23: A. M. Burrage's "Smee"; Short Talk 24: Horace Walpole's "The Lost Ghost". We discuss trickster nature of games and supernatural; its kinder side and return to Dracula.

Outside Class: For Tuesday (7/10), finish Dracula and read from Penguin Vampires, read from Penguin Vampires, R. Chetwynd- Hayes's "The Werewolf and the Vampire", Chelsea Quinn Yarboro's "Cabin 33", and Suzy McKee Charnas's "Unicorn Tapestry".

Week 7, Tues/Thurs, July 10th & 12th

In Class. Tues, 7/10: Short Talks Short talk 25: Chelsea Quinn Yarboro's "Cabin 33" Short Talk 26: R. Chetwynd-Hayes's "The Werewolf and the Vampire". The class will discuss the psychological sophistication of "Unicorn Tapestries", the frivolity and historical fictional nature of "Cabin 33", and complete discussion of Stoker's Dracula. If time permits, we could see opening sequence of Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Outside Class. For Thurs, 7/12: Write first draft of Journal-Essay #3; read from Oxford Ghosts, Simon Raven's "Bottle of 1912", Robert Aickman's "The Cicerones", possibly from Penguin Vampires, M. R. James's "An Episode of Cathedrale History".

In Class, Thursday, 7/12. Short Talks 27: Simon Raven's "Bottle of 1912"; Short Talk 28: Robert Aickman's "The Cicerones"; Short Talk 29: M. R. James's "An Episode of Cathedrale History".

Outside Class: For Tuesday (7/17). Prepare for Twenty Short Answer Question Test; write Journal-Essay #3. Read from Oxford Ghosts, T. H. White's "Soft Voices at Passenham". Review for exam; last thoughts on gothic, ghosts, romance and the supernatural.

Week 8: Tues, July 17th

In Class: Tues, 7/18: Short Talk 30: T. H. White's "Soft Voices at Passenham". Twenty Short Answer Question Test; JOURNAL-ESSAY #3 IS DUE.

Jim Moody.
Page Last Updated 23 May 2001