SCANDINAVIAN R5A, Section 1: Reading and Composition: The Scandinavian Gothic

TT 8-9:30 , 79 Dwinelle. Instructor: Rosie Taylor

Units: 4

The Gothic was a literary genre that took hold of the West from the mid-18th and 19th centuries. Often associated with ghost stories, and responsible for the creation of some of our most famous villains, the movement rose in response to a renewed cultural interest in the dark potential in the everyday man. Gothic authors personified their characters’ inner demons as fiends, ghosts, and doubles, and employed sublime landscapes to enhance the conflict between good and evil meant to make the reader aware of the same conflict within him- or herself.

Although the Gothic movement as a whole did not fully take hold in Scandinavia, elements of its corpus inspired northern authors to incorporate themes and characters into their own works. In this course, we will begin with early continental texts, including the genre’s progenitor, Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, and the origin of the vampire tale, John Polidori’s The Vampyre, to establish trademark elements of the Gothic. We will then move into Scandinavian works, among them texts by Selma Lagerlöf, Henrik Ibsen, and August Strindberg, to see how Gothic themes were incorporated and changed to align with northern perspectives and cultural concerns. The work for this course will focus primarily on the nuts and bolts of writing and how to craft a well-structured essay.


Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto (Oxford UP, ISBN: 978-0198704445)

Selma Lagerlöf, Lord Arne’s Silver (Norvik Press, ISBN: 978-1870041904)

William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White, The Elements of Style, 4th edition (Longman, ISBN: 978-0205309023)

Further readings will be provided.

Prerequisites: Successful completion of the UC Entry Level Writing requirement. Students may not enroll nor attend R1A/R5A courses without completing this prerequisite.