Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Monsters / Delahoyde

English 338
Section 01 [M]
Fall 2009
SLN 27649
MWF 1:10 – 2:00 pm.
Todd 404

Dr. Michael Delahoyde
Avery Hall 355 — Washington State University
Hours: MWF 9:00-10:45
and by appointment.
Phone: 509-335-4832
E-mail: delahoyd@wsu.edu


Course Description:

This course will explore the dynamics of horror, ancient to contemporary, with special attention to monsters as dark-side manifestations of cultural values. What do we label as “monstrous” and why? What makes a successful monster at a given time? What exactly have certain authors (and a few filmmakers) captured (or unleashed)? Towards answering such questions, we will explore myths, literature, and film, and assorted other texts, with particular attention to the most successful monsters in our own culture: vampires, werewolves, the Frankenstein monster, mummies, etc.

While understanding the literature as literature will not be sacrificed, cultural approaches also will contextualize some of the material in interdisciplinary ways. Joseph Campbell’s definitions of monsters are useful for a cross-cultural and mythological assessment; James Twitchell’s psychosocial approaches to horror fiction help unify the course; and assorted other critics — such as Paul Barber on vampire mythology and Adam Douglas on wolf vilification — lend depth to investigation into individual creatures of fiction. Meanwhile, seminal criticism on the works of Shelley, Stevenson, the Beowulf poet, and others will also be heeded. Prepare to select your own monster and perhaps make your own mark on a monsters website.

[Note: A version of this class was last offered some years ago and a web site emerged from our collective work which you are now inheriting. This site has proven to be popular and I continue to be contacted frequently regarding some aspect of it by people of all ages in all walks of life worldwide. I have added many materials to the site but there is significant room for expansion and for filling in gaps (from simple plot summaries of horror films to the addition of whole analyses, filmographies, or commentaries on other monsters). Browse through the site and consider having some of your work this semester published in this public medium, or undertake a revision and expansion of an entire component of the site.]

Course Objectives:

To gain exposure to and appreciation for deep-structure issues of culture and the manifestations of its value systems.

To hone critical thinking skills by examining patterns of thought captured in some of the major and minor artistic works that have shaped or which reflect our culture’s attitudes about what is evil and/or “monstrous.”

To increase intellectual maturation and clarification of our own values through examination of ideas and attitudes in literary, filmic, and cultural contexts and through articulation of these.

To develop skills in verbal analysis and detection of subtlety through reading, discussion, and writing about literature and other artistic media.

To contribute to our collective body of knowledge through participation and sharing individual areas of expertise and original ideas, towards an improvement in the state of scholarship in an area of popular culture currently dominated by mere enthusiasts.

Required Texts:

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. NY: Signet Classics, 2000. ISBN 0-451-527712.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula. NY: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-2833863.

Stevenson, R.L. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. NY: Signet Classics, 1994. ISBN 0-451-52393-8.

Wells, H.G. The Island of Dr. Moreau. NY: Dover Publications, 1998. ISBN 0-486290271.

Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Lost World. NY: Dover Publications, 1998. ISBN: 0-486400603.

Course Requirements:

Ongoing engagement in a discussion primarily involving members of our cult this semester will serve as the foundation of the course. So, voracious reading and obsessive commitment to discovery are required. You must re-animate the dead tissue of texts and other works with your own warped genius and realize, “They’re alive! Alive!!” In other words, class participation and other service to the learning community will be expected. (10%)

I will frequently ask for relatively minor homework assignments to be submitted to our class space online at eLearning (or turned in at the start of class, in case of tech problems). I may ask you to answer questions in writing in class, often ad lib responses to the reading before class discussion begins. These homework assignments and quizzes will receive numerical grades (points) and, although these writings cannot be made up, the final semester totals will be curved if necessary. (30%)

I will bleed two formal projects out of you — one, a typed, double-spaced, medium-length literary analysis; the other a real “monster”: any one of the various options to be determined in consultation with me, involving an annotated bibliography for a particular monster, creation of a web page, etc. (30%)

There will be two exams — one near the middle of the semester and a non-cumulative one near the end — for the HELL of it! (30%)

Students with Disabilities:

I am committed to providing assistance to help you be successful in this course. Reasonable accommodations are available for students with a documented disability. If you have a disability and may need accommodations to participate in this class fully, please visit the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at the start of the semester to seek information or to qualify for accommodations. All accommodations must be approved through the DRC (Washington Building, Room 217). Call 509-335-3417 to make an appointment with a disability specialist: http://www.drc.wsu.edu.

Academic Integrity:

As an institution of higher education, Washington State University is committed to principles of truth and academic honesty. All members of the University community share the responsibility for maintaining and supporting these principles. When a student enrolls in Washington State University, the student assumes an obligation to pursue academic endeavors in a manner consistent with the standards of academic integrity adopted by the University. The University does not tolerate acts of academic dishonesty including any forms of cheating, plagiarism, or fabrication. Any student plagiarizing on any assignment or cheating on any exam in this class will receive an F for the course and will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct, who remind us that Washington State University reserves the right and the power to discipline or to exclude students who engage in academic dishonesty.