American Gothiac Tales

For this paper you will write on ONE of the following topics pertaining to Joyce Carol Oates’ collection of stories: American Gothic Tales. Make sure you have a strong thesis statement, and that you elaborate in detail utilizing specific examples and quotes from the text. Your paper must be Four full pages minimum (4-6 pages), double-spaced, typed, with a title page, using correct MLA documentation guidelines. (see Handbook) Don’t forget to cite and list the page numbers of any material you quote or paraphrase.

*Choose from ONE of the following topics listed below:

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1. Pick THREE of the short stories we have analyzed in class. Analyze these stories in terms of ONE of the “element(s) of the Gothic Tradition” that we discussed in class, such as aberrant psychological states (madness), external gothic elements (like haunted houses, ghosts, etc.), the ethos of violence, revenge, haunted characters, the grotesque, etc. Show how these elements inform, or are an important factor in, the stories you’ve selected.

***For instance, you may want to show how the characters (in the stories you have chosen) are haunted, what they are haunted by, and what the resolution to the story is in terms of how they deal with being haunted, etc.

2. Pick THREE of the short stories we have analyzed in class. Discuss these stories in terms of the Russian literary critic Yzetyen Todorov’s “Gothic Criteria.” Discuss how these stories illustrate the uncanny, the marvelous, and/or the fantastic. Make sure to bring in specific details from the stories you have chosen. Next, determine which of the stories work the best and why, and, in addition, how the uncanny, the marvelous, and/or the fantastic factor in your decision?

3. Compare Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” with Tim Burton’s film version, Sleepy Hollow. In your essay discuss:

How do the two ‘texts’ differ in terms of the “Elements of the Gothic Tradition?”
How do they compare in terms of Todorov’s “Gothic Critieria?”
Which is the better version and why?
How do the alterations made in the old story—a classic bit of Americana—reflect a more 20th-century aesthetic? In other words, how has our gothic sensibility transformed in 150 years and why?
Make sure to add plenty of specific detail from BOTH the film and the textual version!

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