Culture, the Arts, and Society - Haunted and Possessed: Children in Horror Literature and Film

CLLC-L 210 / CLASS 12771 — Spring 2020

Ed Basement/Collins Cinema
Days and Times
M/W 1:25 p.m. - 2:40 p.m., 3 credits
Course Description

The haunted child crept into the popular imagination as if overnight. After publication of The Exorcist, horror started seriously exploring the child haunted by the supernatural. Whether pursued by ruthless ghosts, possessed dolls, or demonic clowns, the figure of the child is most vulnerable to the entity’s corrupting influence, becoming its little helper, prey, or victim of possession. Horror functions as society’s funhouse mirror, offering larger-than-life reflections of a culture’s anxieties. Thus, this class will address how haunted children make apparent the dichotomies of common constructions of children, childhood, and the passage to adulthood. We will track the development of the haunted child in American culture, asking, what rhetorical purpose might he/she serve? How does the depiction vary depending on the child’s class, race, gender, and other social factors? To examine these questions and more, we will consider a range of materials: novels like IT; pivotal films Poltergeist (1982) and Annabelle Creation (2017); articles and foundational works in theory and criticism; new media such as computer games, music videos, and even online horror communities and blogs like Creepy Pasta.

Film screenings Tuesdays  7:00 - 9:00 pm Collins Cinema

Instructor: Michelle Mastro

Collins Seminars: Selected by Board of Educational Programming (BOEP)