What happens when a mirror held up to our world reflects back something ominously and unreasonably distorted? How do the sublime, the uncanny, and the supernatural fashion and fracture our sense of self? Examining gothic novels from the 18th and 19th centuries—the stuff of craggy cliffs, mysterious dungeons, and their paranormal inhabitants—alongside 20th and 21st-century films, this course explores the historical origins and deep cultural legacy of literary responses to the so-called Age of Reason. As we tour medieval monasteries, shadowy back alleys of London, and abysmal realms of the subconscious, we will consider how literary representations of unreason affirm and unsettle our understanding of lived experience and our faith in laws of science and logic. Gothic fiction has long provided fertile ground for cultivating ideas about race, gender, sexuality, and colonialism—special attention will be given to these topics throughout the course. Readings include Frankenstein, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Dracula. Films include Get Out, Black Swan, and Hitchcock’s Rebecca.
Prerequisite: Freshmen must have taken a WR seminar course in the fall term.
Students who wish to pre-register for a discussion section of this course should visit https://students.yale.edu/ocs-preference/select/select?id=17668 to submit their preferences before January 9 at 5:00 p.m.