Slavic R5A, Section 2: It’s Coming From Inside the House: Horror Literature in Russia and the West

TuTh 8-9:30, Dwinelle 259. Instructor: Karina McCorkle.

Units: 4

This course satisfies the first half or the “A” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement.

Horror is often considered a frivolous genre, but it is also a place ripe for the exploration of deep philosophical questions, where we can uncover the hidden fears and anxieties of a particular society. In this course, we will trace a history of the horror genre in Great Britain and the United States through a series of influential texts, starting with the world’s first gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto, and continuing through texts like Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the stories of Edgar Allen Poe. At the same time, we will look at Russia’s parallel course in horror literature, examining both native elements of horror and those borrowed from the West. We will read famous nineteenth-century texts by Pushkin and Gogol alongside more modern examples of horror from the Soviet and post-Soviet periods. In addition to our cross-cultural comparison, we will try to answer questions like: Where does horror come from? What happens to a genre when it is displaced into a different culture, or over the passage of time? What does it mean for a house to be haunted, and is a haunted house from nineteenth-century England still haunted in the same way as a haunted house in twentieth-century Russia? Why are women centered in horror literature and what does or does not change when women are writing it? How has horror literature influenced the production of contemporary horror film?

This course is primarily intended to develop college writing and critical reading skills. Over the course of the semester, students will write several expository essays and practice developing strong arguments through close reading.

Most texts will be provided in a course reader—however, the following novels should be purchased:

The Turn of the Screw, Henry James (978-9176370650)

The Castle of Otranto, Horace Walpole (978-0198704447)

Heart of a Dog, Mikhail Bulgakov (978-0802150592)

The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson (978-0143039983)