Spring 2015: 129

Aspects of Modern Celtic Cultures and Folklore
“The Emerald Goth: The Irish Uncanny”

4 units
MWF 1-2
Dara Hellman

L&S Breadth: International Studies OR Historical Studies OR Social & Behavioral Sciences OR Arts & Literature

In this course, we will read Dracula, the signature piece of the Irish writer Bram Stoker (1847-1912). This novel will be read as an example of a genre one might call the Irish fictional grotesque, one that includes texts whose goal is to foreground disturbing images of death, disease, desire, alongside the fear of the foreign and discomfort with one’s own lot. Along with selections from other Irish writers including Sheridan La Fanu (especially Carmilla), Lord Dunsany, and others, our readings and discussions will probe what these writers seem to be pursuing as they build uncanny worlds. Further, we will follow the genre/category into and through the 20th (and into the 21st) century.

This course challenges students to analyze the narrative strategies, extravagant character-building, and grotesque otherworld-building that are the hallmarks of literary horror as presented to us by Irish writers. Does their Irishness matter? Their Celticity? Does the 19th century context that seems to initiate these narratives tell us anything about their meaning and artistic worth?

Students will be asked to work on a project devoted to an aspect of the Irish Uncanny: such a project may include film as well as literature (as appropriate and with the instructor’s enthusiastic approval).

Student Assignments: Midterm, final, short essay, and a project.

Dracula. Bram Stoker. Edited by Glennis Byron. Orchard Park, N.Y., 2000.
The Vampyre and Other Tales of the Macabre. John Morrison and Chris Baldick, eds. (Oxford World’s Classics). NY: Oxford University Press, 2008.
Other selections of readings and support materials.

Prerequisites: None.