The seminar will open will a discussion of Adam Simon's documentary on the history of horror film, "The American Nightmare" (US 2003), which will be made available to the participants a week before the first session.
The partcipants will also received a list of films before the first session and will be asked to indicate which films on the list they want to see and dicuss, and which films should be excluded. Please understand that your response to the list is a necessary requirement for participation.
Students are expected to prepare the respective readings for each session and to introduce one text and film in class. ("Studienleistung".)
Students who are interested in obtaining a grade have various options, ranging from a longer paper to video essays and other image-based work (which, however, must always be accompanied by an essay that explains and discusses the creative work).
This MA seminar is based on a simple question: which are the powers active in our viewing and reception of horror films? - Which issues, anxieties, fears, attractions, desires etc., both individual and collective, shape our relation(s) to a genre that is associated with transgressive imagery, extreme violence, and disturbing concepts of representation, but which has also been attributed a hidden social and psychological relevance?
The selection of films proposed in the first draft of the seminar program is focused on Western cinema and guided by an interest to investigate a large bandwith of decades, types, sub-genres and narratives. However, all participants of this seminar are very welcome to propose, before the first session, examples from other film cultures or by other film directors which may then be included in the program.
Prospective participants are asked to respect two basic premises. 1) The necessity to combine the viewing and discussion of horror films with theoretical perspectives (meaning: you will always be expected to read the texts suggested in the seminar program, and some of the texts will be demanding). 2) The fact that the transgressive character of horror films also implies that you will be exposed to imagery that has often be considered as violent, hurtful, disturbing and offensive. (The critical discussion of all these aspects will, of course, be part of the seminar.)