Although some art claims to represent the world as it really is, this course traces the ways in which the bizarre and the unexpected feature in the art, music, literature and film of the last hundred years or so. From Bram Stoker’s Dracula, to the nightmares of Freud’s patients in Vienna, from Moscow’s devils to Parisian hallucinations, we will look at the theory and the practice of “creepiness” and pair each of the older texts with a newly alarming one. Oscar Wilde will meet Nine Inch Nails; we shall investigate The Ring and The Grudge, and Salvador Dalì will spend time in The Matrix.
The course, conducted synchronously online, invites you to explore the interdisciplinary and multimedia connections among the arts with an emphasis on the cultural politics and aesthetic innovation of these tense moments in the course of several written, internet-based, and video projects. There will be extensive use of images and films. From the cinema to the internet, and back again.
The material for the course primarily comprises literary texts, films, music and paintings. You will be assigned readings to be done in advance for most meetings of the course (listed as “Reading” for the date by which it is to be completed). Some of the readings will be posted on the course website, and others may be purchased and/or accessed in line. Clips from films and music will be presented in class (listed as “Viewing” for the class day on which they will be discussed) and are also posted on the course website. All images and works of art are also posted on-line as powerpoints for you to consult. Music will be accessible through a class Spotify playlist.
You should consult the course website as the primary resource for course materials, information, and instructions. Canvas will be used for submitting assignments, posting grades, sharing feedback/comments and for email communications.
Please note: The precise film clips and images shown in class have been carefully chosen to illustrate the themes of the course. Portions of these materials, as well as other scenes from the complete films and/or other works by the artists on the syllabus, may be disturbing to some people.
Signature Courses at the University of Texas at Austin connect students with distinguished faculty members in unique learning environments. By way of this rigorous intellectual experience, students develop college-level skills in research, writing, speaking, and discussion through an approach that is interdisciplinary, collaborative, experiential and contemporary.
This course addresses the Signature Course essentials in the following ways:
This course also carries a Global Cultures Flag. The Global Cultures requirement increases your familiarity with cultural groups outside the United States by exploring the practices, beliefs, and histories of at least one non-U.S. cultural group, past or present and by reflecting on your own experiences within a global context.
Bram Stoker, Dracula
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
You should acquire the two texts listed above, either in hard copy or as etexts. You should remain current with the readings and be able to access a copy of the texts during both lecture and section. All additional required readings are posted on the course website as .pdfs. That webpage also contains the reading questions, syllabus, etc. and all film clips, websites and images used in class.
The URL for the course website is: laits.utexas.edu/uncanny/
Please log in with your EID and password.
Additionally, the music that is played at the start of class is compiled in a Spotify playlist.
All these materials comprise the content of the course.
You have the opportunity to earn 100 points (no half points) during the course of the semester. There are no extra credit assignments and the scores are not “curved.” All grades will be posted on CANVAS. In accordance with UT undergraduate grading policies, you will be graded on a 100-point scale which includes + and -. The grading scale is as follows:
F 59 and below
Attendance and Class Preparation/Participation (10% of final grade for the course):
The final grade for this course reflects both attendance and participation.
Our course will be conducted entirely online via Zoom. Please see your Canvas course page for the regular Zoom locations for both lectures and sections. You are expected to attend our virtual class meetings regularly, participate actively in all discussions and complete all assigned readings. Part of your participation is that, barring special accommodations, you should be online with video and audio on (If you are in noisy environment, you may mute your audio when not speaking.). Critical analysis, synthesis and argumentation are essential to the success of the course and to your own success. Absences mean that you are not contributing to the in-class conversation and excessive absences and/or tardiness will result in the lowering of your final grade.
Please keep in mind that how much you do or do not contribute in section may be a decisive factor in your final grade. Active participation in lectures, discussion sections, office hours, etc. will be reflected in the attendance and participation score. Students who attend but do not participate actively will receive the score for their written work as their final grade. Tardiness and/or leaving early will count as absence.
Given the current COVID-19 situation and all the complications it entails, sometimes you may not be able to join the lecture and/or your section. There are two ways to demonstrate that you have attended section:
- Join the scheduled Zoom lectures on Mondays and Wednesdays and the discussion section on Fridays and participate via live discussion, responding to polls and chat.
- If you are unable to attend one or more of the scheduled Zoom meeting(s), you must notify your TA 48 hours in advance, view the Zoom recording of the meeting you missed, and schedule a brief individual Zoom meeting with your TA within 7 days (i.e. before the next section meeting) to follow up on what you have missed. If you follow up in this way on days you have missed, we will excuse the absence. If you do not follow up the absence will be considered unexcused.
If you have a foreseeable reason to be absent (you are observing a religious holiday, you have a job interview, you have a family obligation, etc.), you must contact your TA at least 48 hours in advance, so that they may evaluate the situation more closely and see whether it is appropriate to excuse the absence.
You are allowed three unexcused absences without any impact on your grade. If you have three or fewer absences, your final grade for the course will be the same as what you earned on the written assignments. Any further absences, either from lecture or from section, will lower your grade for the course by a half grade (i.e. a B becomes a B-, and a B- becomes a C+). Active participation in lectures, discussion sections, office hours, etc. may allow you to raise your attendance and participation score above the score for your written work by one or two points.
You are expected to behave in a collegial and respectful manner during lectures and in the discussion sections. Texting, answering email, talking with other students, and in any way being disruptive of lectures or discussion sessions is not permitted. Using oppressive or offensive language will not be tolerated. This virtual classroom will be a safe place for all of you respectfully to express your opinions, concerns, interests and interactions with the material on the syllabus.
Your TA will provide you with a policy statement about your section and will hold regularly scheduled weekly office hours on Zoom.
Written and Formal Oral Assignments for the Course:
Detailed instructions for the written assignments listed below appear on the assignment tab on the course website. The short essay may be rewritten. Rewrites must be turned in to the TAs at least one class day before the due date of the next assignment. Grades for the rewrite will be averaged with the grade for the original draft submitted.
- 2-page essay on a suggested topic. (20%)
- 2-page research report, a source list and evaluation of Internet and library resources for a topic of your choice. (10%)
- Formal written prospectus (100 words) proposing topic, selection of works, and methodology for the video project. The prospectus will be peer-reviewed. (5%)
- Video assignment on the topic proposed in the prospectus that has been approved by the instructor and/or TA. (30%)
- Book of “Dream Analyses,” which will consist of 100-word entries prepared in advance of each meeting of the class. The book will contain your impression of the materials assigned for the day and assist you in developing the analytic techniques that are required for the more formal assignments. The book will be collected in two halves. (7% + 8%)
- Oral report (5 minutes each) prepared along with a classmate on a topic which is approved by the TA and related to the content assigned for that week. The report will be peer-reviewed and evaluated by the TA. (10%)
All assignments must be uploaded on Canvas prior to the class meeting. The final grade for the course will be cumulative and based upon the percentages indicated. There will be no midterm or final examination.
In order to pass the course all assignments must be completed. Failure to complete any one of the assignments will constitute failing the course overall.
Any assignment submitted late will be held to a higher standard because you have had the unfair advantage of more time to prepare. It will be evaluated more severely as a result. Late assignments will only be accepted until the class meeting before the next assignment is due. All work submitted for the course must be your own and all outside sources must be noted appropriately in bibliographies and footnotes. The written assignments should be written in correct English, typed in a standard compact 12-point font (like Times), and double-spaced with appropriate one-inch margins. No assignments will be accepted after 5 PM on the last Monday of the semester.
Honor Code, Academic Integrity and Religious Holidays
The core values of The University of Texas at Austin are learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity, and responsibility. Each member of the university is expected to uphold these values through integrity, honesty, trust, fairness, and respect toward peers and community. Each class participant is expected to adhere to these principles throughout the course, in dealing with the instructors, fellow students, and in completing all written assignments for the course. Your instructors will do the same.
Academic Integrity: Any work submitted by a student in this course for academic credit will be the student’s own work. For additional information on Academic Integrity, see http://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/sjs/acadint.php
Religious Holy Days: By UT Austin policy, you must notify me of a pending absence at least fourteen days prior to the date of observance of a religious holy day. If you must miss a class, a work assignment, or a project in order to observe a religious holy day, I will give you an opportunity to complete the missed work within a reasonable time after the absence.
Occupants of buildings on The University of Texas at Austin campus are required to evacuate buildings when a fire alarm is activated. Alarm activation or announcement requires exiting and assembling outside. Familiarize yourself with all exit doors of each classroom and building you may occupy. Remember that the nearest exit door may not be the one you used when entering the building. Students requiring assistance in evacuation shall inform their instructor in writing during the first week of class. In the event of an evacuation, follow the instruction of faculty or class instructors. Do not re-enter a building unless given instructions by the following: The University of Texas at Austin Police Department, or Fire Prevention Services office. Other important Emergency Information: http://www.utexas.edu/safety/preparedness/.
Procedures Related to COVID-19
Safety and Class Participation / Masks
Our course will be conducted entirely online; however, for every face-to-face on-campus experience, we will all need to make some adjustments in order to benefit from in-person interactions in a safe and healthy manner. Our best protections against spreading COVID-19 on campus are masks (defined as cloth face coverings) and staying home if you are showing symptoms. Therefore, for the benefit of everyone, this is means that all students are required to follow two important rules:
- Every student must wear a cloth face covering properly in class and in all campus buildings
at all times.
- Every student must engage in documented daily symptom screening. This means that each class day in which on campus activities occur, students must upload certification from the symptom tracking app and confirm that they completed their symptom screening for that day to Canvas. Students should not upload the results of that screening, just the certificate that they completed it. If the symptom tracking app recommends that the student isolate rather than coming to class, then students must not return to class until cleared by a medical professional.
If a student is not wearing a cloth face covering properly in the classroom (or any UT building), that student must leave the classroom (and building). If the student refuses to wear a cloth face covering, class will be dismissed for the remainder of the period, and the student will be subject to disciplinary action as set forth in the university’s Institutional Rules/General Conduct 11-404(a)(3). Students who have a condition that precludes the wearing of a cloth face covering must follow the procedures for obtaining an accommodation (https://orientation.utexas.edu/students-with-disabilities).
Sharing of Course Materials is Prohibited
No materials used in this class, including, but not limited to, lecture hand-outs, videos, assessments (quizzes, exams, papers, projects, homework assignments), in-class materials, review sheets, and additional problem sets, may be shared online or with anyone outside of the class unless you have my explicit, written permission. Unauthorized sharing of materials promotes cheating. It is a violation of the University’s Student Honor Code and an act of academic dishonesty. I am well aware of the sites used for sharing materials, and any materials found online that are associated with you, or any suspected unauthorized sharing of materials, will be reported to Student Conduct and Academic Integrity in the Office of the Dean of Students. These reports can result in sanctions, including failure in the course.
All of class recordings, including your video projects, are reserved only for students in this class for educational purposes and are protected under FERPA. The recordings should not be shared outside the class in any form. Violation of this restriction by a student could lead to Student Misconduct proceedings.
Rights and Responsibilities of Students
- You have a right to a learning environment that supports mental and physical wellness.
- You have a right to respect.
- You have a right to be assessed and graded fairly.
- You have a right to freedom of opinion and expression.
- You have a right to privacy and confidentiality.
- You have a right to meaningful and equal participation, to self-organize groups to improve your
- You have a right to learn in an environment that is welcoming to all people. No student shall be
isolated, excluded or diminished in any way.
With these rights come responsibilities:
- You are responsible for taking care of yourself, managing your time, and communicating with
the teaching team and with others if things start to feel out of control or overwhelming.
- You are responsible for acting in a way that is worthy of respect and always respectful of others.
- Your experience with this course is directly related to the quality of the energy that you bring to
it, and your energy shapes the quality of your peers’ experiences.
- You are responsible for creating an inclusive environment and for speaking up when someone is
- You are responsible for holding yourself accountable to these standards, holding each other to
these standards and holding the teaching team accountable, as well.
Professional courtesy and sensitivity are especially important with respect to individuals and topics dealing with differences of race, culture, religion, politics, sexual orientation, gender, gender variance, and nationalities. Class rosters are provided to the instructor with the student’s legal name, unless they have added a “preferred name” with the Gender and Sexuality Center (http://diversity.utexas.edu/genderandsexuality/publications-and resources/). Your TA and I will happily honor your request to address you by a name that is different from what appears on the official roster, and by the gender pronouns you use (she / he / they / ze, etc). Please advise us of any changes early in the semester so that we may make appropriate updates to my records. For instructions on how to add your pronouns to Canvas, visit https://utexas.instructure.com/courses/633028/pages/profile-pronouns.
Services for Students with Disabilities
The university is committed to creating an accessible and inclusive learning environment consistent with university policy and federal and state law. Please let me know if you experience any barriers to learning so I can work with you to ensure you have equal opportunity to participate fully in this course. If you are a student with a disability, or think you may have a disability, and need accommodations, please contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD). Please refer to SSD’s website for contact and more information: http://diversity.utexas.edu/disability/. If you are already registered with SSD, please deliver your Accommodation Letter to me as early as possible in the semester so we can discuss your approved accommodations and needs in this course.
Counseling and Mental Health Center
The Counseling and Mental Health Center serves UT’s diverse campus community by providing high quality, innovative and culturally informed mental health programs and services that enhance and support students’ well-being, academic and life goals. To learn more about your counseling and mental health options, call CMHC at (512) 471-3515. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, call the CMHC Crisis Line 24/7 at (512) 471-2255.
The Sanger Learning Center
Did you know that more than one-third of UT undergraduate students use the Sanger Learning Centereach year to improve their academic performance? All students are welcome to take advantage of the Sanger Center’s classes and workshops, private learning specialist appointments, peer academic coaching, and tutoring for more than 70 courses in 15 different subject areas. For more information, please visit:
http://www.utexas.edu/ugs/slc or call 512-471-3614 (JES A332).
Undergraduate Writing Center
Instructional Technology Services
Student Emergency Services
BeVocal is a university-wide initiative to promote the idea that individual Longhorns have the power to prevent high-risk behavior and harm. At UT Austin all Longhorns have the power to intervene and reduce harm. To learn more about BeVocal and how you can help to build a culture of care on campus, go to: https://wellnessnetwork.utexas.edu/BeVocal.
Title IX Reporting
Title IX is a federal law that protects against sex and gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, unprofessional or inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature, dating/domestic violence and stalking at federally funded educational institutions. UT Austin is committed to fostering a learning and working environment free from discrimination in all its forms. When unprofessional or inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature occurs in our community, the university can: 1. Intervene to prevent harmful behavior from continuing or escalating. 2. Provide support and remedies to students and employees who have experienced harm or have become involved in a Title IX investigation. 3.Investigate and discipline violations of the university’s relevant policies. Beginning January 1, 2020, Texas Senate Bill 212 requires all employees of Texas universities, including faculty, report any information to the Title IX Office regarding sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking that is disclosed to them. Texas law requires that all employees who witness or receive any information of this type (including, but not limited to, writing assignments, class discussions, or one-on-one conversations) must be reported. I am a Responsible Employee and must report any Title IX related incidents that are disclosed in writing, discussion, or one-on-one – including virtually online. Before talking with me, or with any faculty or staff member about a Title IX related incident, be sure to ask whether they are a responsible employee. If you would like to speak with someone who can provide support or remedies without making an official report to the university, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about reporting options and resources, visit http://www.titleix.utexas.edu/, contact the Title IX Office via email at email@example.com, or call 512-471-0419. Although graduate teaching and research assistants are not subject to Texas Senate Bill 212, they are still mandatory reporters under Federal Title IX laws and are required to report a wide range of behaviors we refer to as unprofessional or inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature, including the types of conduct covered under Texas Senate Bill 212. The Title IX office has developed supportive ways to respond to a survivor and compiled campus resources to support survivors.
Q Drop Policy
If you want to drop a class after the12th class day, you’ll need to execute a Q drop before the Q-drop deadline, which typically occurs near the middle of the semester. Under Texas law, you are only allowed six Q drops while you are in college at any public Texas institution. For more information, see: http://www.utexas.edu/ugs/csacc/academic/adddrop/qdrop.