American Horrors

Autumn 2018-2019

18500

Michael Dango

This course is a survey of horror in American literature and film, with a special focus on the genre’s relation to racial and sexual violence. How does horror reflect, contribute to, or intervene into structures of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and queerphobia? How do fictional texts represent or transform non-fictional horrors, from lynching to rape to police brutality? And what is the status of horror as an emotion that structures relations of power and privilege in the United States? Together, we will gain a historical perspective on the genre, for instance tracking the figure of the zombie from its birth in Haitian folklore as a projection of the horrors of slavery, through 20th century works like George Romero’s film Night of the Living Dead, and into present day works including Colson Whitehead’s novel Zone One. We will pay special attention to the present moment, interrogating a renaissance of horror tropes in, for instance, feminist fiction (Karen Russell and Carmen Maria Machado), television (American Horror Story and Stranger Things), and cinema (It and Get Out). (Fiction)