ENGL-253 Intro to Horror Films
Spring for 2015-2016
Horror films are as old as the cinema itself. The desire to be scared by what we watch, to derive pleasure from unpleasure, would seem a perverse desire that the cinema obliges over and over. This course will survey a selection of key films that satisfy this supposed perversity and explore a variety of critical approaches that seek to explain the appeal and importance of the genre. Vampires, zombies, and other monsters have served as political and cultural allegories around anxieties about gender, race, nationality, and sex at different historical moments. We will examine the Expressionist horror of the 1920s in the context of interwar Europe, Cold War horrors of the 1950s that express American anxieties about the alien, the slasher films of the 1970s and 1980s in the context of the backlash against feminism, and the reemergence of the genre in contemporary cinema amidst renewed geopolitical violence and instability and more generalized or archaic fears about difference, origins, and the dark.
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