Horror Cinema and American Culture

Dr. John Luke Rodrigue
Seminars: 30
ECTS credits: 3

Though often criticized as crude, misogynist, and backwards, horror cinema has been remarkably adept at responding to the national concerns and moods of the United States. Horror films of the 1970s and 1980s responded intensely to second-wave feminism, and other have demonstrated the genre’s intense engagement with national concerns in times of crisis and fear (e.g., post-atomic creature features, Reagan-era error slasher flicks, post-9/11 “tourist” films). This course will take a close look at the ties that bind the American nation to horror cinema. We will begin with Depression-era horror and go up to the present day to investigate the political, social, and cultural anxieties underpinning the horror genre in respective eras. The class will not limit itself to reading national nightmares in horror films; we will also tease out the complicated relationship of this maligned genre to shifting notions of gender, race, and national/individual identity in the United States from the 1930s to the early 21st century.

We will employ close reading/viewing of films through the application of various critical approaches.

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