Horror Writing and the (Postcolonial) Afterlife (LIT2538.01)

Anaïs Duplan

It’s one thing to feel scared when we watch scary movies, and it’s another to feel that same fear as we read books. After all, in books, there’s no eerie music, nor the possibility of being jolted by a sudden jump scare. Yet still, horror writing abounds and writers throughout history have found ways of communicating dread, terror, paranoia, and anguish through the written word.

The French Continental philosopher Maurice Blanchot writes: “Disaster shuts down language. Disaster cannot be fathomed. Disaster stops all speech because the suffering it causes is so total and complete.” Ironically, horror writing emerges out of this disastrous speechlessness, mining the breakdown of speech for its capacity to fundamentally disorient and perturb us. And what happens too when the horror we face is not some supernatural creature but instead the human? Then we find ourselves in the afterlife of the postcolonial, or own present-day paranoid condition in which late-stage capitalism forms the suspenseful backdrop of our inevitable demise.

“Our first fear remains annihilation, and this fear can apply to all kinds of anxieties throughout our lives,” says Mary Elizabeth Borkowski, describing the inherent paranoid horror of activist politics. Horror writing––or otherwise, the writing of the disaster––springs out of a lived persecutory reality, one which the postcolonial activist is intimately aware of. Thus our examination of horror writing will comprise a series of horror films and literary texts, as well as texts from psychology (e.g. Melanie Klein’s description of “paranoia”) and postcolonial social/cultural criticism.

Students will work collaboratively on the creation of multi-genre work of horror: a single short-form horror film co-created by the group, as well as individual writings on horror, which will accompany the film. It is suggested that students have prior experience in Film/Video or Media Studies; however, it is not required.

Learning Outcomes:
- Develop familiarity with the horror genre across film and literature
- Apply literary, social-critical, and psychological concepts to analysis of horror
- Generate multimedia work

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 4
M/Th 3:40PM - 5:30PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: 2000 , All courses , Black Studies , Film and Video , Four Credit , Fully In-Person , Literature , Media Studies