ENG10250 Horror Literature

Academic Year 2021/2022

Module Coordinator: Dr. Leanne Waters
Contact: leanne.waters@ucd.ie

Why do we love to be scared? What makes us want to seek out those things that go bump in the night? Horror is, on the one hand, an uncomfortable genre of physical pain, graphic gore, and nightmarish states; it provides us with “cheap thrills” and disturbing visions, which act as mapping tools for the existential pathos of the modern individual. On the other hand, horror also speaks to some of society’s deepest anxieties and desires; at the level of the collective, horror identifies an aesthetic language for the otherwise unspeakable, and it brings the fears that secretly haunt us to light in radically new ways. This module helps students to cultivate a discipline-specific appreciation of literary horror in relation to modernity and popular culture. Examining prominent horror texts from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century, the module considers the symbolic meanings of these menacing stories within their appropriate literary, theoretical, and socio-historical contexts. Key topics and themes of the module include: the gothic, the other, the uncanny, the return of the repressed, trauma, the body in pain, the grotesque, the modern family, hauntings, place/space, the mind, science, and technology.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

At the end of this module, students will:
(a) have a critical understanding of the relationship between horror and modernity.
(b) have a discipline-specific knowledge of literary techniques, devices, and writing styles that are prevalent in the genre, and thus be able to conceptualise horror theoretically.
(c) be able to outline the evolution of horror through the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries, paying particular attention to literary and socio-historical contexts.
(d) be able to account for the role and function of horror in popular culture specifically, paying particular attention to the module’s key topics and themes.

Indicative Module Content:

Week 1: Introduction to Theories of Horror. Edgar Allan Poe, “The Masque of the Red Death” (1842 short story). Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Body Snatcher” (1884 short story).

Week 2: Henry James, "The Turn of the Screw" (1898 novella).

Week 3: M.R. James, “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad” (1904 short story). H.P. Lovecraft, “The Outsider” (1926 short story). Daphne du Maurier, “The Birds” (1952 short story).

Week 4: Shirley Jackson, "The Haunting of Hill House" (1959 novel).

Week 5: Robert Bloch, "Psycho" (1959 novel).

Week 6 : Ira Levin, "Rosemary’s Baby" (1967 novel).

Week 7: William Peter Blatty, "The Exorcist" (1971 novel).

Week 8: Stephen King, "The Shining" (1977 novel).

Week 9: Clive Barker, “The Forbidden” (1985 short story). Joyce Carol Oates, “Haunted” (1994 short story).

Week 10: Koji Suzuki, "Ring" (1991 novel).

Week 11: Tananarive Due, "The Between" (1995 novel).

Week 12: Joe Hill, “The Black Phone” (2004 short story). John Ajvide Lindqvist, “Equinox” (2005 short story). Mariana Enriquez, “An Invocation of the Big-Eared Runt” (2016 short story).

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Required: Primary Readings; Tutorial Attendance.

Optional: Pre-Recorded Lectures; Handouts; Secondary Readings/Viewings. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: Midterm Essay Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Assignment: Final Essay Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback is provided individually online through Brightspace, with the opportunity for face-to-face feedback