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 invites students 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 and internet-based projects. There will be extensive use of images and films, as well as direct use for the class of the current performance and studio art being done in the community and at UT. From the cinema to the internet, and back again.
The material for the course primarily comprises literary texts, films, music and paintings. Students 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 must be purchased in hard copy. 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 students to consult. Students who chose to write about entire films for their assignments may wish to consult entire films, which maybe found on line, in UT’s AudioVisual Library (http://www.lib.utexas.edu/fal/), and/or commercially. Music will be accessible through a class Spotify playlist.
Students should consult the course website as the primary resource for course materials and information. Canvas will be used over the course of the semester for posting grades 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 students.
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:
Bram Stoker, Dracula
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Students should acquire the two texts listed above, either in hard copy or as etexts. They should remain current with the readings and be able to bring a copy of the texts to lecture and section. Students should acquire these editions themselves. All additional required readings are posted on the course website as .pdfs. Students should bring a copy of the readings to lectures/discussion sections. The class 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 login with your EID and password. Additionally, the music that is played at the start of class is compiled in a Spotify playlist accessible on line. To access the music played at the start of lecture, please click here. All these materials comprise the content of the course.
Students have the opportunity to earn 100 points during the course of the semester. There are no extra credit assignments. All grades will be posted on CANVAS, which will also be used for group communications with students. In accordance with UT undergraduate grading policies, students in the course 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. Attendance of the lectures and the Friday discussion sections is required. Participation and questions are encouraged. Attendance will be taken regularly at the start of each lecture using Top Hat (see below). Tardiness counts as absence, as does leaving early. It is the obligation of the students to make sure that their presence is recorded. Each student will be allowed three unexcused absences in the course of the semester. A student with three of fewer absences will receive the grade for the course earned by the written assignments. Any further absences, either from lecture or from section, will lower the student’s grade for the course by a half grade (i.e. a B becomes a B-, and a B- becomes a C+). All non-emergency requests, beyond the three allowed absences, must submitted to the instructor for approval at least 48 hours in advance of the days to be missed. Students should think carefully before “using up” the absences early in the semester. Absences for the observance of religious holidays will be excused.
Students are expected to come to the lectures prepared and to bring any readings with them. Careful reading of all assigned texts is required for the day on which they are assigned. Further multimedia resources will be presented in class and are available on-line. The written texts, films, and extra multimedia materials together form the content of the course. Reading questions are posted on the course webpage to assist students with their reading and the completion of the written assignments.
Attendance and participation in the weekly one-hour discussion sections is required. Attendance will be taken regularly at the start of each section meeting. Tardiness counts as absence, as does leaving early. Students are expected to have done the required reading and to come with comments and questions about the texts and lectures. All teaching assistants will provide their students with a policy statement about their sections and will hold regularly scheduled weekly office hours.
Students 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. Students who do not pay attention in class will be asked to leave class and will be counted absent for the day.
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.
Top Hat Classroom Response System
Throughout the lectures we will be using TopHat (www.tophat.com) classroom response system in class. Your active use of TopHat will form the basis of your participation grade for lecture. You will be able to submit answers to in-class questions using Apple or Android smartphones and tablets, laptops, or through text message. You can visit the Top Hat Overview (https://success.tophat.com/s/article/Student-Top-Hat-Overview-and-Getting-Started-Guide) within the Top Hat Success Center which outlines how you will register for a Top Hat account, as well as providing a brief overview to get you up and running on the system. An email invitation will be sent to you by email, but if don’t receive this email, you can register by simply visiting our course website: https://app.tophat.com/e/343428 Note: our Course Join Code is 542017. You will receive a separate invitation from your TA for your discussion section. Top Hat will require a paid subscription, and a full breakdown of all subscription options available can be found here: www.tophat.com/pricing Should you require assistance with Top Hat at any time, due to the fact that they require specific user information to troubleshoot these issues, please contact their Support Team directly by way of email (firstname.lastname@example.org), the in app support button, or by calling 1-888-663-5491.
Written and Formal Oral Assignments for the Course:
Detailed instructions for the written assignments listed below appear on the assignment tab. 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.
A first assignment (2-page essay) on a suggested topic. (20%)
A second assignment (2-page research report) a list and commentary on Internet and library resources for a topic of the student’s choice. (10%)
A formal written prospectus (100 words) proposing topic, selection of works, and methodology for the video project. The prospectus will be peer-reviewed. (5%)
A third video assignment on the topic proposed in the prospectus that has been approved by the instructor and/or TA. (30%)
A “Book of Dream Analyses,” which will consist of 100-word entries prepared in advance of each meeting of the class. The book will contain the student’s impression of the materials assigned for the day and assist students in developing the analytic techniques that are required for the more formal assignments. The book will be collected in two halves. (7% + 8%)
An oral report (5 minutes per student) 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 into 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. All special circumstances must be discussed with the instructor/ TA in advance of the due date or the absence will be considered unexcused.
Any assignment submitted late will be held to a higher standard because the student has had the unfair advantage over the rest of the class of more time to prepare. It will be marked more severely as a result. Late assignments will only be accepted until the class meeting before the next assignment is due. For example, if the next assignment is due at the start of lecture on Monday, all late assignments must be received by the section meeting on the previous Friday. All work submitted for the course must be the student’s 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 class day of the semester.
Documented Disability Statement: The University of Texas at Austin provides upon request appropriate academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. For more information, contact Services for Students with Disabilities at 471-6259 (voice) or 232-2937 (video phone), or visit http://www.utexas.edu/diversity/ddce/ssd
There are numerous resources available on campus to assist and support students. A list of those resources and links may be found here.
Honor Code: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.
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.
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.