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)

Readings: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/rabbit-holes/the-babadook-is-a-frightening-fabulousnew-gay-icon• https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/ywzwej/inside-the-babadiscourse-how-the-babadookbecame-a-queer-icon

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 https://medium.com/@SonofBaldwin/get-the-fuck-outta-here-a-dialogue-on-jordan-peelesget-out-831fef18b2b3

Dianca London “’Get Out’ and The Revolutionary Act of Subverting the white Gaze” found at https://theestablishment.co/get-out-and-the-revolutionary-act-of-subverting-the-whitegaze-c769cb620496


Film: Get Out

Readings: Preston Mitchum, “Get Out Provides that ‘nice racism’ and White Liberalism are Never to be Trusted” found at https://www.theroot.com/get-out-proves-that-nice-racism-and-whiteliberalism-1792955235

Aisha Harris, “The Most Terrifying Villain in Get Out is white Womanhood” found athttp://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2017/07/how_get_out_positions_white_womanhood_as_the_most_horrifying_villain_of.html

Ms. Willis “The Most Overlooked & Underrated Characters in ‘Get Out’ are Black Women”found at https://movietime.guru/black-women-in-get-out-d87e0aa9d7c7

Kinitra Brooks, “What Becky Gotta Do to get Murked? White Womanhood in Jordan Peele’s Get Out” Found at http://verysmartbrothas.com/what-becky-gotta-do-to-get-murkedwhite-womanhood-in-jordan-peeles-get-out

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)