English 202.019: The Emergence of the Gothic from the Realistic and Romantic in Different Contexts

Fall 1999, term beginning August 30th, 1999; the Final Journal is Due Friday, December 17th
We meet on each Friday 1:30 - 4:10 pm, Robinson A205
Lecturer: Dr. Ellen Moody; Homepage: http://mason.gmu.edu/~emoody

How to Contact Me Outside Class:

Without an Appointment:

Write to me by e-mail: Ellen2@JimandEllen.org & emoody@osf1.gmu.edu; 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 also well to remember that I am on campus only 2 evenings. 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. The safest speediest way to get a late essay to me is to bring it to the next class and give it to me warm hand to warm hand.

With an Appointment:

Private conferences to go over journals, and discuss reading or personal problems are available by appointment Friday 11:30 am - 1:00 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.

Description of Course (or, this particular English 202):

In the next 14-15 weeks, we will read a series of mostly short fictions and see a few films which belong to or comment on the genre of novel called the Gothic. In accordance with the general aim of this course -- to see how literary works come to have different meanings when you read them against different backgrounds -- we will be examining the nature of the mode called gothic and the ways in which we read or interpret different literary and visual examples of it in accordance with the frameworks we place these in.

We will begin with Ann Radcliffe's The Romance of the Forest, Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, and the 1995 Mirage-Columbia/SONY film of _Sense and Sensibility_ (directed by Ang Lee; screenplay Emma Thompson). Here we will explore the birth of gothic romance, define what is meant by the term gothic as opposed to the terms realistic and romantic. At the same time, we will examine how differently we understand the same story when it is told through words in a book or through moving pictures and speech and action in a movie.

We will then read a pair of novels by a father and daughter, William Godwin's Things as They Are; or the Adventures of Caleb Williams and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus. This time we will see how the gothic lends itself to radical social criticism from an anarchist as well as leftist point of view and to criticism of science, learning and social progress -- all at once. We will see how Mary Shelley took her father's book and turned it into a woman's fantastic nightmare about creating a human being through a birth process using the dead, a story which has provided an archetypal figure, Frankenstein's unnamed creature, for a legend that still speaks to our time.

Our last pair of single novels, Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde and its modern interpretative sequel, Valerie Martin's Mary Reilly, will enable us to explore the doppelgänger figure which recurs in many of our novels. We will also examine how the same story can come to have different meanings depending on the point of view from which it is told. Both pairs of books will be accompanied by a film adaptation or interpretation of our texts: the 1994 Tristar film, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (directed by Kenneth Branagh; screenplay Steph Layd and Frank Darabout) and the 1996 Tristar Mary Reilly (directed by Stephen Frears; screenplay Christopher Hampton).

From about midway to the end of the course we will also read two different groups of short tales: ghost stories written from the latter part of the nineteeth century until the present time, and Isak Dinesen's philosophical fables, Seven Gothic Tales. Here we will explore the religious ramifications of the gothic, how it comes out of and speaks to religious insecurities, and how it figures forth to us a picture of the universe and presiding deity (or deities) as cruel, indifferent, and mischievous; we will look more closely at how sexual experience, evil, guilt, justice, and death are treated in gothic novels and what we mean by the uncanny. If time permits we will see one film of one unusually sunlit tale of a retrieval of joy and hope during the celebratory moment of a ritual feast.

Required Books (in the order we will read them):

Required Films:

Optional Book:

Suggested Reading:

Required Essays and Tests:

In this class you will be asked to read and to demonstrate you have read all the required books. There will be no long individually researched paper, no on-the-spot midterm or final essay. Instead you will be required to write four essays outside class in the form of journal entries on most of the texts that we read. These are our "set journals" and are to be numbered (1, 2, 3, and 4). For those assigned short stories or parts of novels for which there will be no journal entry required, I will give a short-answer test or quiz on the day the text is due (for example, next week there will be a quiz on pp. 1-172 of The Romance of the Forest. as you will be required to read only half of it; there will also be short answer tests on the assigned ghost stories and gothic tales, as you will only have to write on a choice you make from a selection of these stories and tales).

What is a book journal? See attachment entitled Directed Journal Entry (or, how to write an essay with guidelines) and student model. 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-above cited 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). If you do not take the quiz or test on the day the part of the novel, story, or tale is due, you must write a journal on those texts the quiz covered. In this course in which there are so many popular movies available and so much on the Internet that may be plagiarized, 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.

Extra Credit Journals:

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 the following choices: 1) you can, if you read all Radcliffe's novel, write a comparison of The Romance of the Forest with Valerie Martin's Mary Reilly or any of Isak Dinesen's Seven Gothic Tales; 2) you can write a comparison of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensiblity with Valerie Martin's Mary Reilly; 3) you can write a comparison of William Godwin's Caleb Williams with one or more of the following short stories: Sir Walter Scott's 'Wandering Willie's Tale', Elizabeth Gaskell's 'The Old Nurse's Story', Sheridan Le Fanu's 'Mr Justice Harbottle', or Elizabeth Walter's 'Come and Get Me'; 4) you can write a comparison of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein with Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde; or, finally, 5) you can write on a pair of short stories or gothic tales other than those assigned which you have already written upon; or more of the suggested books or selections therefrom. Consult me before going ahead on any of the above.

One other Requirement and One Hope:

1) I ask that you attend class: 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, to read all assigned texts, and to see the required movies with us. Since the class meets but once a week, this is not a stringent requirement.

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 to try to include class participation of everyone, so that I will often have simply to lecture or talk myself and read aloud a good deal; nevertheless, I ask questions and try my best to generation discussion through following up on any questions or comments students like to make. People can learn by talking and listening to one another. We have only one longish novel and I have tried to arrange the books in such a way as to enable you to keep up. However, even when you have not read a text or seen the 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 the 15 week semester. By the end of this time I should have for each student a minimum of four grades for each journal and three grades for the three quizzes (see calendar below). The three grades for the quizzes will be averaged together to form one grade. If a student has done extra journals or has written a journal in lieu of taking a short-answer test, he or she will have more single grades to be averaged in. What I do is average the basic four journal grades together with a fifth one averaged from the quizzes, and any extra credit or substitute journal grades to arrive at a provisional final grade. 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.


Week 1: Friday, September 3rd:

In Class: Course introduction: aims of course, brief explanation of book journal entry form; then we'll watch 1995 Mirage-Columbia/SONY Sense and Sensibility;

Outside Class: For Friday (9/10) have read Chloe Chard's introduction to, and one-half of Ann Radcliffe's The Romance of the Forest (in the Oxford paperback edition, pp. 1-171, or Volume I, Chs 1-7, and Volume I, Chs 8-11), plus Margaret Drabble's introduction to and the first volume of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.

Week 2: Friday, September 10th:

In Class: We'll have a short-answer test on the first half of Radcliffe's novel; we will then discuss the birth of the gothic in the context of realistic and romantic novels and the new interest in psychological and subjective truth in the 18th century. I will give a brief history of the novel from Greek classic times to the 1790s. Then we'll begin discussing Austen's Sense and Sensibility and Emma Thompson's film.

Outside Class: For Friday (9/17), finish reading Austen's Sense and Sensibility, and then depending on what you chose to write your first journal on, resee the movie and obtain a copy of the screenplay and read it, or finish Radcliffe's The Romance of the Forest. Begin planning, thinking about or writing drafts towards Journal #1 (see below).

Week 3: Friday, September 17

In Class: We'll finish our discussion of Austen, Radcliffe, and the birth of the gothic; introduction to William Godwin and Mary Shelley's novels.

Outside Class: By Friday (9/24) have written Journal #1: choice of a comparison of Austen's novel, Sense and Sensibility with the 1995 film adaptation or Jane Austen's novel and the whole of Radcliffe's The Romance of the Forest. Read also Maurice Hindle's introduction to the Penguin edition of Caleb Williams and the first two of the three volumes of the novel.

Week 4: Friday September 24:

In Class: JOURNAL #1 DUE. We'll discuss the 1790s, the French revolution and the reaction against it across Europe, the reactionary decades in England, Napoleonic wars, and Caleb Williams.

Outside Class: For Friday (10/1): finish the last volume of Caleb Williams; read as much as you can of Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein and Harold Bloom's Afterword.

Week 5: Friday October 1st:

In Class: We'll read aloud a couple of the student journals; we'll begin our discussion of Shelley's novel, connect it to her life, to the new science of the period, to some of the concerns we'll see in Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde; and we'll begin watching Kenneth Branagh's film, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Outside Class: Finish reading Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein; read also J. A. Cuddon's introduction to the Penguin Book of Ghost Stories, and two of the ghost stories: Elizabeth Gaskell's 'The Old Nurse's Story', Margaret Oliphant's 'The Open Door',

Week 6: Friday October 8th:

In Class: We'll finish the film, Frankenstein, return to discussing the novel and compare it to Caleb Williams

Outside Class: for Friday (10/15), read three more ghost stories: Sheridan Le Fanu's 'Mr Justice Harbottle', Guy de Maupassant's 'Le Horla', and Ambrose Bierce's 'The Moonlit Road'. Begin planning, thinking about, or writing drafts of Journal #2 (see below).

Week 7: Friday October 15th:

In Class: Short answer test on the five ghost stories. The class session will be on the relationship of the ghost story to realistic, gothic, and romantic fiction, to a loss of religious certainties, on evil, guilt, and justice in our psychic lives.

Outside class: By Friday (10/22) have written Journal #2: a comparison of Godwin's Caleb Williams with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Also read Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde.

Week 8: Friday October 22nd:

In Class: JOURNAL #2 DUE. We'll discuss Stevenson, Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde, the emergence of mystery and detective stories, specifically, Sherlock Holmes and the Dracula myth in the form taken by Bram Stoker's novel; the doppelgänger figure, our own culture's obsession with drugs and mind-changing transformations.

Outside Class: For Friday (10/29) read Valerie Martin's Mary Reilly.

Week 9: Friday October 29th:

In Class: We'll read aloud a couple of the student journals; we'll discuss Valerie Martin, her work, interest in Stevensona and the gothic, Mary Reilly and begin watching the movie.

Outside Class: For Friday (11/5) read three of the 20th century ghost stories: A. M. Burrage's 'One Who Saw', Edith Wharton's 'Afterward', and Mario Soldati's 'Footsteps in the Snow'. Begin planning, thinking about, or writing drafts of Journal #3 (see below).

Week 10: Friday November 5th:

In Class: Finish watching the movie Mary Reilly. Return to a comparison of Stevenson's story with Martin's novella.

Outside Class: Read three more contemporary ghost stories: Ray Bradbury's 'The Wind', Elizabeth Walter's 'Come and Get Me', and A. S. Byatt's 'The July Ghost'. By Friday (11/19) have written Journal #3, a comparison of Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde and Valerie Martin's Mary Reilly.

Week 11: Friday November 19th:

In Class: JOURNAL #3 DUE. Short Answer Test on the six ghost stories. The class session will be on the 20th century ghost story and its relationship to modern literature, its loneliness and pessmism, its uses of the uncanny, the surreal and what has been called 'the return of the repressed'.

Outside Class: Read Isak Dinesen's 'The Deluge at Norderney', 'The Old Chevalier', and 'The Roads Round Pisa'

Week 12: Thanksgiving Holiday: No Class

Week 13: Friday December 3rd:

In Class: We'll have a couple of the student journals read aloud; then proceed to discuss the life of Dinesen, the use of the aesthetic, nostalgia, dreams, and reactionary politics in modern gothic tales. If time permits, we'll begin watching Babette's Feast.

Outside Class: Read Isak Dinesen's 'The Supper At Elsinore', 'The Dreamers', 'The Poet'. Begin planning, thinking about, and writing drafts towards Journal #4. Journal #4 should be a choice of any three of the ghost stories which are to be found in Cuddon's The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories or any three of Isak Dinesen's Seven Gothic Tales.

Week 14: Friday December 10th:

In Class: Short Answer Test on the six Dinesen tales we have read and, if we have seen the film, Babette's Feast. Finish discussion of Dinesen. Final comments on gothic and fantastic and romantic literature and art in our time.

Week 15; Due in this room Friday, December 17th:

JOURNAL #4, and any revisions, extra credit, substitute or revised journals you would like to submit.