Living/Learning Center Programs

The University of Vermont



The American Horror Story

A Residential TAP Program. Open only to incoming first-year students in the College of Arts and Sciences.

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Few people appreciate the fact that American literature, cinema, and the pictorial arts have for many generations been influenced by elements of horror art.  What is there about American culture that has encouraged the tale of terror to flourish?  Perhaps the genre represents the "other side" of American material prosperity and the capitalist's irrefutable optimism towards the future.  Perhaps it is a simple reminder that the new American Adam is really not so different from his European ancestors: we all are fallen beings. 


This seminar will examine some of the social and historical contexts for understanding the American tale of terror as it has appeared in a variety of forms, beginning with early Puritan narratives and their influence on several of our greatest horror writers from the 19th century: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Emily Dickinson, and Edgar Poe.  The seminar will culminate with an examination of 20th century fiction by Thomas Harris, Joyce Carol Oates, Joe Citro, and Stephen King.  In addition, the class will view at least two or three films representative of the genre.


Requirements will include oral reports and summary write-ups, in-class writing, participation in class discussions, and two formal papers.  Each of the films connected with this class will be shown at L/L, and students will join the faculty director for dinner before the screening.  In addition, novelist Joe Citro will visit the program to address the class during the week that we will be reading his fiction.



The American Horror Story

Required Course Information

Fall Semester

ENG 005C (90389), 3 credits, Prof. Tony Magistrale

Spring Semester

Spring semester activities will be announced during the fall semester.