"The Nightmare," Fuseli, Tate Britain

Gothic Novel & Horror Fiction
Engl 113, Section 1
T/R 3-4:15pm, DMH 357
Fall 2008


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Dr. Katherine D. Harris
Office Hours
T/Th 1:30-2:30 & 4:30-5:30pm
Office:  FO 220
Phone: 408.924.4475
Emails: kharris@email.sjsu.edu, dr.katherine.harris@gmail.com, katherine.harris@sjsu.edu

Course Description  Course Objectives Course Policies   Grading Policy

Grade Distribution    Late Policy    Plagiarism    Required  Books


Course Description
Slasher films used to be a great way to spend "date night." However, we've become so jaded about horror films (and the girl who always falls during the chase scene) that we are amused by them instead of genuinely terrified and awe-struck. These movies were inspired by horror fiction, including Stephen King's The Shining and multiple incarnations of Frankenstein and Dracula. All of these literary texts originate from the Gothic novel tradition, where psychological disintegration is quelled by sweeping landscapes. In this course, we'll establish the definition of "gothic" by reading Matthew Lewis' The Monk and Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto. (No Frankenstein this semester.) Moving through the nineteenth century, we'll explore monsters, landscapes and female victims as they appear in Gothic novels. In the twentieth century, we'll discover that "gothic" becomes synonymous with "horror," very similar to King's The Shining and Stanley Kubrick's film version. Students will bring in horror films and media (e.g., video games, novels, etc.) from the last 25 years to finish off our semester. 

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing
Course Objectives
  • To recognize and appreciate the importance of the Gothic novel and horror fiction as major literary genres 1795 to present in both England and America.
  • To strengthen our abilities to engage literary text and to analyze both its form and content as well as its historical contexts.

Required Books & Materials
  • Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey. Ed. Marilyn Gaull. Longman Cultural Edition, 2005 (ISBN 0321202082)
  • Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. 4th ed. Ed. Richard J. Dunn. Norton, 2003 (ISBN 0393978893)
  • King, Stephen. The Shining. Simon & Schuster, 2001 (ISBN 0743437497)
  • Lewis, Matthew. The Monk. Ed. Howard Anderson. Oxford World Classic, 1995 (ISBN 019282435x)
  • Polidori, John William. The Vampyre. Eds. D.L. Macdonald and Kathleen Scherf. New York: Broadview, 2007. (ISBN 978-1-55111-745-4)
  • S., R. The New Monk. Ed. Elizabeth Andrews. Valancourt Books, 2007. (ISBN 0979233216)
  • Stevenson, Robert Louis. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. World’s Classics, 1987 (ISBN 019281740x)
  • Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Ed. Nina Auerbach. Norton Critical Edition, 1997 (ISBN 0393970124)
  • Walpole, Horace. The Castle of Otranto. Ed. Laura Mandell. Longman, 2007. (ISBN 0321398920)
  • Working Email address


  • A Research Guide for Undergraduates in English & American Literature. MLA, 2006 (ISBN: 0873529243)
  • Harmon, William and C. Hugh Holman. A Handbook to Literature. 11th ed. Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2008 (ISBN 9780136014393 )
  • Hacker, Diana. A Writer’s Reference (or other writing handbook)
Grade Distribution
10% Class Discussion & Participation
10% In-Class Response Essays
20% Individual Presentation

20% Group Presentation
20% Mid-Term Exam
20% Final Exam


Class Discussion, Participation & 3 Questions
This course studies the evolution of a particular genre. Since we will build on our definition of "gothic" and "horror" from the first day of class, your participation in each class meeting is imperative. Since this class is largely discussion-based, arrive to class prepared with the proper readings.

A student’s participation is assessed by his/her contribution throughout the semester. Use the following as guidelines for this portion of your final grade:

  • To earn a "C," do the minimum: read and prepare assigned readings so you are never at a loss if you are asked a question, but speak only when called upon, do "ordinary," plain-vanilla presentations and responses. This is the "bottom line" for getting a "C" in this part of the course.
  • To earn a "B," prepare assigned readings thoroughly, initiate discussions about them by asking good questions or suggesting ways to interpret readings, do presentations that reveal that you have done good additional work that you can make both interesting and meaningful to our discussions, and participate actively in those discussions.
  • For an "A," take it up another level entirely: prepare readings thoroughly, find and talk about connections among them and among other aspects of culture (then and now), take a real leadership role in class discussions, including working actively to get others involved in the talk, make your presentations and responses "sparkle" by bringing to them something really special in terms of your own contributions, interests, skills, and abilities to think in broad even interdisciplinary terms. Most of all, remember that an "A" indicates the very best grade a person can get; that should tell you what sort of work you need to do to earn the grade of "A."
  • If you miss class, contact a classmate for notes, reading assignments and handouts – or check our Course Website. (Please do not email me to ask "Did I miss anything important?")

    In-Class Response Essays
    (ICE) & Out-of-Class Emailed Essays (OCE)
    Each week we will write essay responses to an assigned question about the current reading assignment or the previous meeting’s lecture. As the semester progresses, this essay may turn into an out-of-class emailed essay of approximately 300-500 words. Your understanding of that week’s keywords, concepts and class discussion are imperative to produce a sufficient piece of writing. Each OCE/ICE will receive a grade based on the quality of your response. This weekly writing will also allow you to practice your in-class writing skills. We will discuss what makes an effective response. The OCE is formal writing that should conform to MLA style with proper citation format and should be edited for grammar and typographical mistakes. Sloppy writing will be penalized by a letter grade.

    There are no make-ups for an ICE/OCE; you simply receive a zero for that essay. An OCE needs to be emailed by the date and time specified in order to receive credit; a late OCE will receive a zero. Please be aware that missing even a few of these essays will cause your final grade to drop significantly. The lowest grade in this entire group of essays will be dropped.

    (See tips for writing effective In-Class Essays.)

    Group Presentation
    For the Group Presentation, a group of students will research the production, illustrations, reviews, etc. of a novel and present those findings on that novel’s first day (15 mins). A brief piece of writing (300 words) will be submitted to mark the group’s presentation. Each Research Presentation will be graded on its effectiveness and clarity. To enhance your presentation, you may use handouts, digital information or dramatic performance. See detailed instructions here. See your group members here!


    Individual Presentation & Essay
    Though we begin our Gothic journal in 1765, we will discover that the genre continues well into the 20th and 21st-centuries. For the Individual Presentation, each student will present on gothic or horror media (10 mins) that has been published/created in the last 10 years. This means that the presentation is not limited to the written word, but is instead open to all forms of information and communication, including video games, films, graphic novels, etc. A 1000-word essay will accompany the presentation. Check the online scheduled for your date (12/2, 12/4, 12/9). See detailed instructions here. See schedule here.
    Mid-term and Final Exams
    Each exam will consist of definitions, short answer and essay questions. Portions of the Final Exam will be comprehensive. Keywords defined in lectures will aid in studying for these exams.
    Grading Policy
    The Department of English reaffirms its commitment to the differential grading scale as defined in the official SJSU Catalog ("The Grading System"). Grades issued must represent a full range of student performance: A = excellent; B = above average; C = average; D = below average; F = failure. Courses graded according to the A,B,C,NoCredit system shall follow the same pattern, except that NC, for NoCredit, shall replace D or F. In A,B,C,NoCredit courses NC shall also substitute for W (for Withdrawl) because neither NC nor W affects students’ grade point averages.

    In English Department courses, instructors will comment on and grade the quality of student writing as well as the quality of the ideas being conveyed. All student writing should be distinguished by correct grammar and punctuation, appropriate diction and syntax, and well-organized paragraphs.

    For your final grades, 100-90 is an A, 89-80 is a B, 79-70 is a C, 69-60 is a D, and below 60 is an F. Pluses and minuses are the middle of each range. In calculating the final grade, a set number will represent each letter grade; for example, B+ is 87.5, B is 85, and B- is 82.5.

    Course Policies
    Late Assignments/Essays
    Any late ICE/OCE will not be accepted. For all other assignments: If you cannot meet a deadline, you must contact me at least 72 hours prior to our class meeting to discuss the situation. If this is not done, for every day that an essay is late, you will be penalized one grade step: A becomes A-, A- becomes a B+, etc. The weekend will count as one day. Unless you have prior permission or the assignment specifically requests it, absolutely no assignment will be accepted via email.
    SJSU Academic Integrity Policy
    Your own commitment to learning, as evidenced by your enrollment at San Jose State University, and the University’s Academic Integrity Policy require you to be honest in all your academic course work. Faculty are required to report all infractions to the office of Judicial Affairs. The policy on academic integrity can be found at http://www.sjsu.edu/senate/S04-12.htm . The SJSU rules against plagiarism are set forth in the SJSU Catalog, which defines plagiarism as the act of representing the work of another as one’s own (without giving appropriate credit) regardless of how that work was obtained, and submitting it to fulfill academic requirements. Plagiarism at SJSU includes, but is not limited to: (1) the act of incorporating the ideas, words, sentences, paragraphs, or parts thereof, or the specific substance of another’s work, without giving appropriate credit, and representing the product as one’s own work. It is the role and obligation of each student to know the rules that preserve academic integrity and abide by them at all times. This includes learning and following the particular rules associated with specific classes, exams, and/or course assignments. Ignorance of these rules is not a defense to the charge of violating the Academic Integrity Policy.
    Avoiding Plagiarism
    Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of somebody else’s words or ideas and is considered an instance of academic dishonesty that instructors must report. You commit plagiarism by
    • buying, stealing, or borrowing a paper;
    • hiring someone to write a paper;
    • building on someone’s ideas without providing a citation;
    • or copying from another source or using a source too closely when paraphrasing.

    In other words, submit only your own work. In addition, please know that submitting work from another course (recycling) is also against the Academic Honesty Policy. To learn how to cite sources accurately and forthrightly, consult your handbook. If you have any questions about when or how to document a source, do not hesitate to ask me for clarification. Turning in plagiarized work may result in immediate failure in the course and could result in dismissal from San José State University. See King Library’s definition, the University policy and a plagiarism tutorial: www.sjlibrary.org/services/literacy/info_comp/plagiarism.htm 

    Plagiarism checks will be performed by asking students to submit various written exercises or essays to Turnitin.com, a service which scans documents for all references to Web sources and other essays. To sign up for Turnitin use the Class ID 2368847 and Password goth08.
    The instructor reserves the right to revise the requirements and to notify students of such revision in a timely manner. 

    Classroom Environment
    Respect your fellow students and I: Attend class, arrive on time (excessive tardiness will affect your participation grade) and do not partake in disruptive behavior. If you are late, wait for an appropriate moment to enter so you do not disturb the class. Turn off cell phones or put them on silent mode during the class period.
    Email is the best possible way to contact me (9am-5pm) and has the added bonus of recording our conversations. When emailing me, please consider it a formal communication: include the appropriate salutation, your name and your question/comment. Know that long conversations over email are not fruitful merely because of the limitations of technology. If you have an extended question or dilemma, please visit me during office hours. I will amass a class email list and will occasionally send out information regarding our meetings or the readings. Please provide an email address that you check daily.
    General Information
    Course Websitehttp://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/harris/
    As we move along in the semester, course materials will be posted on the course website. After you have entered, simply click on our class title to print the current schedule or handouts, visit online resources, print copies of lost documents, find the campus computer rooms, check my office hours, find writing help, discover local literary events or double-check the meaning of "plagiarism."
    SJSU Writing Center
    Visit me during office hours for help with your writing. For even further help, go to the Writing Center located in Clark Hall, Suite 126. Hours: Monday-Thursday 9-7 and Friday 9-1. Call for appointments at 924-2308 or go online at www.sjsu.edu/writingcenter . Work with tutors in a one-on-one environment. Make appointments online at the above website.
    Library Liaison
    For library research questions, contact Toby Matoush, the English Department’s Library Liaison: (408) 808-2096 or tmatoush@sjsu.edu . King Library has created an extensive and very useful list of the library’s resources specifically for English majors: http://www.sjlibrary.org/research/web/literature.htm.
    Peer Mentor Center
    The Peer Mentor Center is located on the 1st floor of Clark Hall in the Academic Success Center. The Peer Mentor Center is staffed with Peer Mentors who excel in helping students manage university life, tackling problems that range from academic challenges to interpersonal struggles. On the road to graduation, Peer Mentors are navigators, offering "roadside assistance" to peers who feel a bit lost or simply need help mapping out the locations of campus resources. Peer Mentor services are free and available on a drop –in basis, no reservation required. The Peer Mentor Center website is located at http://www.sjsu.edu/muse/peermentor/ .
    Student Technology Resources
    Computer labs for student use are available in the Academic Success Center located on the 1st floor of Clark Hall and on the 2nd floor of the Student Union. Additional computer labs may be available in your department/college. Computers are also available in the Martin Luther King Library. A wide variety of audio-visual equipment is available for student checkout from Media Services located in IRC 112. These items include digital and VHS camcorders, VHS and Beta video players, 16 mm, slide, overhead, DVD, CD, and audiotape players, sound systems, wireless microphones, projection screens and monitors.
    Campus Policy on Compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act
    If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours. Presidential Directive 97-03 requires that students with disabilities register with DRC to establish a record of their disability. The DRC website is http://www.drc.sjsu.edu .




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    Dr. Katherine D. Harris
    Last updated: 12/02/2008 01:47 PM
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