DIGITAL MEDIA CRITICISM: THE HORROR
COMM DM 4621 The syllabus for this course may be viewed or downloaded here. After an initial module of classes where we explore aspects of cultural studies, we will spend the most of the semester examining the horror genre and its evolution in the digital world. A "module" in this case is a group or cluster of courses devoted to a topic, activity or both.
The major reading for the first four weeks of this course are derived from Daniel Chandler's Semiotics for Beginners. We will be using a simplified version of this text downloadable here.
The author Stephen King - you've perhaps heard of him - has written that monsters come in three basic types. These of course come in many guises and include hybrids. The basic three though are the undead, the manufactured and the transformational.
An excellent study guide all about Mary Shelly's Frankenstein is here.
The manufactured include Frankenstein's Monster, anything or anyone who was created usually due to the egregious meddling by some human who is either simply careless or wants to, as in the case of Dr. Frankenstein, play god.
Here then, starting with a promotional still from the Universal Studio's 1931 Frankenstein is a sample of this type.
The undead include ghosts, vampires and everyone's favorite these days, zombies. Why do think zombies became so popular? Here's a short visual history of the screen vampire.
Another excellent study guide all about Bram Stoker's Dracula is here.
Finally we have the transformational monsters. These are beings, sometimes people, who through no fault of their own become monstrous. Or they were just born that way. I know there is overlap between these types. Some monsters, zombies for example, fit two or possibly three categories. Then there's a science-fiction/horror sub-genre that is also tricky because it's a hybrid.
The early Universal Studio films were so well-known a documentary was recently released about them.