Lecture 14: The Smallest of Small Towns  English 104AUC Santa Barbara  Spring 2012                   "[I]t may be thought ...
The Gothic, Briefly, Again●   Generally thought to originate in Horace Walpole’s    1764 The Castle of Otranto●   Common c...
The Gothic in the United States●    In the 19th century,often takes the form of short    stories or poems, though novels a...
(Selected) perspectives on horrorTragedy is “an imitation of a noble andcomplete action, having the proper magnitude;it em...
“[H]orror’s bite is explained as a suddentearing-away of the intellectual trust that standsbehind our actions. Specificall...
"The world is increasingly unthinkable – a worldof planetary disasters, emerging pandemics,tectonic shifts, strange weathe...
“Horror, in this way, shows us our inherentskepticism about absolute progress. […]Dracula, The Call of Cthulu, or The Isla...
“Horror arises not because Dracula destroysbodies, but because he appropriates andtransforms them. Having yielded to his a...
p“Nighthawks has more to do with the possibility of predators in the night than with loneliness.”    — Edward Hopper, qtd....
Stephen King (1947-)atio      ●   Best known for his              horror, fantasy, and sci-fi              novels.        ...
The town of Jerusalem’s Lot“Demographically, the census of 1970 showeda pattern familiar both to rural sociologists andto ...
“We’re living in an automobile-oriented society.”(10; prologue, sec. 3)“[…] the Lot’s knowledge of the country’storment wa...
“Charles Griffen’s father had marketed his ownmilk, but that was no longer practical. Theconglomerates had eaten up the la...
Father Callahan’s monologue on evil “It was the ritualistic acknowledgment of evil by a church now more concerned with soc...
Gossip“In the surrounding towns the whisperingcampaign that is the beginning of legend hasalready begun. ’Salem’s Lot is r...
“Most of the telephone lines were two-, four-, orsix-party connections, and so folks always hadsomeone to talk about.” (42...
Ann Norton on “they”“there’s some that think we’ve had a little toomuch excitement in ’salem’s Lot since Mr. BenMears show...
Call the roller of big cigars,The muscular one, and bid him whipIn kitchen cups concupiscent curds.Let the wenches dawdle ...
Media CreditsThe background on slide one is Edward Hopper’sRoad in Maine (1914), out of copyright because it waspublished ...
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Lecture 14 - The Smallest of Small Towns (16 May 2012)

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Fourteenth lecture for my students in English 104A, UC Santa Barbara, spring 2012. Course website: http://patrickbrianmooney.nfshost.com/~patrick/ta/s12/index.html

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Lecture 14 - The Smallest of Small Towns (16 May 2012)

  1. 1. Lecture 14: The Smallest of Small Towns English 104AUC Santa Barbara Spring 2012 "[I]t may be thought that the horror novel represents something like the underside of the Enlightenment." 16 May 2012 — Noël Carroll, The Philosophy of Horror (1990)
  2. 2. The Gothic, Briefly, Again● Generally thought to originate in Horace Walpole’s 1764 The Castle of Otranto● Common conventions we discussed last time: ● An emphasis on the grotesque, macabre, or fantastic incidents, which may or may not be supernatural occurrences. ● A setting that often includes old or ruined buildings, desolate locations, etc. ● A narrative technique that “develops a brooding atmosphere of gloom or terror,” as M.H. Abrams puts it. ● Often, plots deal with extreme emotional or psychological states.
  3. 3. The Gothic in the United States● In the 19th century,often takes the form of short stories or poems, though novels are also written in this genre. ● Edgar Allen Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Henry James are notable 19th-century practitioners.● Two notable trends in the 20th century: ● Southern Gothic ● More generalized horror fiction – Many subgenres
  4. 4. (Selected) perspectives on horrorTragedy is “an imitation of a noble andcomplete action, having the proper magnitude;it employs language that has been artisticallyenhanced […] it is presented in dramatic, notnarrative form, and achieves, through therepresentation of pitiable and fearful incidents,the catharsis of such pitiable and fearfulincidents.”“tragedy is not an imitation of men, per se, butof human action and life and happiness andmisery.” – Aristotle, Poetics (ca. 330 BCE)
  5. 5. “[H]orror’s bite is explained as a suddentearing-away of the intellectual trust that standsbehind our actions. Specifically, it is a maliciousripping-away of this intellectual trust, exposingour vulnerabilities in relying on the world and onother people. […] horror puts forward scenariosthat through their vivid depiction threaten ourbackground cognitive reliance on others andthe world around us.” – Philip J. Nickel, “Horror and the Idea of Everyday Life” (2010)
  6. 6. "The world is increasingly unthinkable – a worldof planetary disasters, emerging pandemics,tectonic shifts, strange weather, oil-drenchedseascapes, and the furtive, always-loomingthreat of extinction. In spite of our daily concerns,wants, and desires, it is increasingly difficult tocomprehend the world in which we live and ofwhich we are a part. To confront this idea is toconfront an absolute limit to our ability toadequately understand the world at all – an ideathat has been a central motif of the horror genrefor some time." – Eugene Thacker, Preface to In the Dust of This Planet (2011)
  7. 7. “Horror, in this way, shows us our inherentskepticism about absolute progress. […]Dracula, The Call of Cthulu, or The Island of Dr.Moreau present a dark-regressive shadowimage of the bright and progressive veneer ofeighteenth- and nineteenth-century optimism.The origins of modern horror provide a vividpresentation of the inherent moral weaknessesand often-present darkness in the humanimagination.” – Philip Tallon, “Through a Mirror, Darkly” (2010)
  8. 8. “Horror arises not because Dracula destroysbodies, but because he appropriates andtransforms them. Having yielded to his assault,one literally ‘goes native’ by becoming avampire oneself. [Dracula’s victims] receive anew racial identity, one that marks them asliterally ‘Other.’ Miscegenation leads, not to themixing of races, but to the biological andpolitical annihilation of the weaker race by thestronger.” – Stephen Arata, “The Occidental Tourist” (1990)
  9. 9. p“Nighthawks has more to do with the possibility of predators in the night than with loneliness.” — Edward Hopper, qtd. in. Gail Levin, Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography (1995)
  10. 10. Stephen King (1947-)atio ● Best known for his horror, fantasy, and sci-fi novels. ● ’Salem’s Lot (1975) was his second published novel. ● Many novels are set in southern Maine. ● Bram Stoker Award, National Book Foundation Award, etc. etc. etc.
  11. 11. The town of Jerusalem’s Lot“Demographically, the census of 1970 showeda pattern familiar both to rural sociologists andto the long-time resident of any small Mainetown: a lot of old folks, quite a few poor folks,and a lot of young folks who leave the area withtheir diplomas under their arms, never to returnagain.” (9; prologue, sec. 3)“small towns have long memories and passtheir horrors down ceremonially fromgeneration to generation.” (51; ch. 2, sec. 6)
  12. 12. “We’re living in an automobile-oriented society.”(10; prologue, sec. 3)“[…] the Lot’s knowledge of the country’storment was academic. Time went on adifferent schedule here.” (44; ch. 2, sec. 4)Larry Crockett: “If you’re fixing up to makemoonshine or LSD or explosives for somehippie radical outfit, that’s your own lookout.”(99; ch. 3, sec. 11)Danny Glick: “There were preevertseverywhere.” (119)
  13. 13. “Charles Griffen’s father had marketed his ownmilk, but that was no longer practical. Theconglomerates had eaten up the last of theindependents.” (67; ch. 3, sec. 3) “Do you suppose they’ll make a go of it?” Clyde asked no one in particular. “Might,” Vinnie said. “They might show up right pert in the summertime. Hard to tell the way things are these days.” (155; ch. 4, sec. 8)Matt Burke: “There’s little good in sedentary smalltowns. Mostly indifference spiced with anoccasional vapid evil – or worse, a conscious one. Ibelieve Thomas Wolfe wrote about seven poundsof literature about that.” (192; ch. 5, sec. 6)
  14. 14. Father Callahan’s monologue on evil “It was the ritualistic acknowledgment of evil by a church now more concerned with social evils. […] But it was a mindless, moronic evil from which there was no mercy or reprieve.” (238; ch. 6, sec. 9) “But there were no battles. There were only skirmishes of vague resolution. […] In fact, he was being forced to the conclusion that there was no EVIL in the world but only evil – or perhaps (evil).” (240; ch. 6, sec. 9)
  15. 15. Gossip“In the surrounding towns the whisperingcampaign that is the beginning of legend hasalready begun. ’Salem’s Lot is reputed to behaunted.” (11; prologue, sec. 3)Parkins: “I figured I ought to come and ask aquestion or two, now that you mention it.Waited until Nolly was off somewheres. He’s agood boy, but he likes to talk, too. Lordy, thegossip that goes on.” (158; ch. 4, sec. 9)
  16. 16. “Most of the telephone lines were two-, four-, orsix-party connections, and so folks always hadsomeone to talk about.” (42; ch. 2, sec. 4)Matt Burke: “Not all the gossip in a small townis open gossip. There are secrets. Some of thesecret gossip in ’salem’s Lot has to do withHubie Marsten. It’s shared among perhaps onlya dozen or so of the older people now – MabelWerts is one of them. It was a long time ago,Susan. But even so, there is no statute oflimitations on some stories.” (310; ch. 9, sec. 5)
  17. 17. Ann Norton on “they”“there’s some that think we’ve had a little toomuch excitement in ’salem’s Lot since Mr. BenMears showed his face.” (293; ch. 9, sec. 1)“they haven’t decided that yet. […] There’ssome that think he may have caught a diseasefrom the little Glick boy.” (294)“They don’t give you a breathalyzer test ifyou’re sober!” (295)
  18. 18. Call the roller of big cigars,The muscular one, and bid him whipIn kitchen cups concupiscent curds.Let the wenches dawdle in such dressAs they are used to wear, and let the boysBring flowers in last months newspapers.Let be be finale of seem.The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.Take from the dresser of deal,Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheetOn which she embroidered fantails onceAnd spread it so as to cover her face.If her horny feet protrude, they comeTo show how cold she is, and dumb.Let the lamp affix its beam.The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream. — Wallace Stevens, “The Emperor of Ice-Cream” (1922)
  19. 19. Media CreditsThe background on slide one is Edward Hopper’sRoad in Maine (1914), out of copyright because it waspublished before 1923. Source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Edward_Hopper_Road_in_Maine.jpgSee the credits for lecture 8 for the rationale forHopper’s Nighthawks.The photo of Stephen King at the 2007 New YorkComicon was taken by Flikr user “Pinguino” and hasbeen released into the public domain. Source:http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e3/Stephen_King%2C_Comicon.jpg
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