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Politics of Horror (Spring 2018)

Part 1: Introduction to Cultural Studies and Horror

Week 1:

Tuesday, January 16: Intro to the class

Reading: Read the syllabus

Thursday, January 18: Why Horror?

Film: Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922)

Reading: Mathias Clasen, Why Horror Seduces, ch. 2 “How Horror Works: The Evolution andstimulation of negative emotions”


Week 2:

Tuesday, January 23rd: Criticism vs. review

Reading: Iam Bogost, How to Talk about Videogames, Intro: “Nobody asked for a toaster critic: Doing Videogame Criticism.”

Ian Bogost, How to Talk about Videogames, ch 3 “The Blue Shell Is Everything That’s Wrong with America”

Thursday, January 25th: Encoding and Decoding

Film:• Psycho (1960)

Reading: Stuart Hall “Encoding and Decoding


Week 3:

Tuesday January 30th: Horror and Liberalism?

Readings: Elisabeth Anker “The Liberalism of Horror”, Social Research Vol. 81, no. 4 (2014)

Part 2: Zombies!

Thursday February 1st: Zombie, history and origin

Film: I walked with a Zombie (1943)

Reading: Ian Olney, Zombie Cinema, ch. 1 “Black Mask, White Zombies”


Week 4:

Tuesday February 6th: Zombies and Political Space

Readings: Ian Olney, Zombie Cinema, ch. 2 “Consumer Culture”

Thursday February 8th: Zombies and Capitalism

Film: Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Reading: Camilla Fojas, Zombies, Migrants and Queers: Race and Crisis Capitalism in Pop Culture ch. 4 “Zombie Capitalism: Night of the Living Debt”


Week 5:

Tuesday, February 13th: Zombies

Readings: Camilla Fojas, Zombies, Migrants and Queers: Race and Crisis Capitalism in Pop Culture ch.6 “Sinkholes and Seismic Shifts: Ecological and Other Disasters”

Part 4: Gender, Misogyny and Agency in Horror

Week 8:

Tuesday, March 6th: Gendered and the Horror Film

Readings: Cynthia Freeland, “Feminist Frameworks for Horror Films” from Film Theory and Criticism, (1996)

Thursday, March 8th: Gender and Agency

Film: The Witch (2015)Reading:• Silvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch, ch. 4 “The Great European Witch-hunt”


Week 9:

Tuesday March 13th: Gender Violence and Women’s Agency

Readings: Carol Clover, Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film, ch. 1 “HerBody, Himself”

Thursday, March 15th: Feminist Revenge Films

Film: Teeth (2007)

Reading: Carol Clover, Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film, ch. 3“Getting Even”


Week 11

:Tuesday March 27th: Catch-up day


Thursday March 29th: Male Anxiety, Misogyny, and Motherhood

Film: Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Reading: Lucy Fisher, “Birth Traumas: Parturition and Horror in Rosemary’s Baby” from The Dread of Difference: Gender and the Horror Film

Week 12

Tuesday, April 3rd: Queer Horror?

Reading: Sam S. Miller, “Chapter 11. Assimilation and the Queer Monster” from Horror After9/11Thursday April 5th: Queer horror

Film: The Babadook (2014)


Part 3: The Legacy of Slavery and the horror of White Supremacy


Thursday, February 15th: The Horror of Slavery

Film:• The Girl With All the Gifts (2017)

Reading: Frank B. Wilderson III, “Blacks and the Master/Slave Relationship” from Afro-Pessimisman Introduction


Week 6:

Tuesday, February 20th:

Reading: Annalee Newitz, Pretend We are Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop Culture, Ch. 3“The Undead: A Haunted Whiteness”

Thursday, February 22nd:

Film: Excerpts from Birth of a Nation (1915); Birth of a Nation (2016)

Reading: Nikhil Singh, “The Whiteness of Police” from American Quarterly Vol. 4 (2014)

Week 7:

Tuesday, February 27th: Race and Social Death

Reading: “Get the Fuck Outta Here: A Dialogue on Jordon Peele’s GET OUT” found at

Dianca London “’Get Out’ and The Revolutionary Act of Subverting the white Gaze” found at


Film: Get Out

Readings: Preston Mitchum, “Get Out Provides that ‘nice racism’ and White Liberalism are Never to be Trusted” found at

Aisha Harris, “The Most Terrifying Villain in Get Out is white Womanhood” found at

Ms. Willis “The Most Overlooked & Underrated Characters in ‘Get Out’ are Black Women”found at

Kinitra Brooks, “What Becky Gotta Do to get Murked? White Womanhood in Jordan Peele’s Get Out” Found at

Part 4: Trauma, National Identity, and Horror

Week 13
Tuesday, April 10th: Horror and National Trauma

Readings: Adam Lowenstein, Shocking Representation: Historical Trauma, National Cinema, and the Horror Film, “Introduction: the Allegorical moment”

Thursday: April 12th: Hororrism and War

Film: The Devils Backbone (2001)

Readings: François Debrix, “Horror beyond death: Geopolitics and the Pulverization of the human”,New Formations: A journal of Culture/Theory/Politics, vol 89-90 (2017)


Week 14:

Tuesday April 17th: Horror, Gender, and Islam

Film: A Girl Walks Home At Night


Thursday, April 19th: Korean Conflict

Film: Train to Busan

Readings:• TBA

Part 5: Capitalism, Anxiety, and Sacrifice

Week 15

Tuesday April 24th: Class, capitalism, and Inequality

Film: Purge: Anarchy (2014)

Readings: Ben Brucato, “An American Exception: The Counter-Insurrectionary Function of the ColorLine” from Why Don’t the Poor Rise up?

Thursday April 26th: The end of the world

Film: Cabin in the woods

Readings:• Sean Parson “Cthulhuscene: Ecological Catastrophe, Horror, and the Politics of Suvivalism”(DRAFT)

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