'The Monster under your bed’ – Horror and the Gothic in American Children’s and Youth Fiction
- This class will take place on Tuesdays, 10:15 - 11:45!
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A girl resurrects an angry ghost who causes the demise of her friends while writing their deepest terrors in
a book with bloody ink. Another girl is lured into a flat where a child-murdering woman fakes love but wants
to sew buttons on her eyes. On a Halloween night, a town is haunted by ghosts trying to reap the souls of
every living person, and a young girl is persecuted by a mad woman who wants her decapitated. Although
these storylines could be easily the sujet of Gothic horror novels that address an adult audience, they focus
on jeopardized children, yet are strands in children’s literature by well-known writers like Alvin Schwartz, Neil
Gaiman, R.L. Stine and Lewis Carroll.
In these fictions and their acclaimed adaptations, for example of Henry Selick’s stop-motion fantasy Coraline (2009), Brad Silberling’s Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004) or R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps anthology franchise, childhood is in a state of fading innocence and security as the story worlds offer disenchanting transitions from child- to adulthood. Whether it is the Bogeyman, evil puppets, vengeful or absent parents, the monster under children’s bed has had many faces both in the history of children’s literature and the course of popular visual media productions. In order to grasp the richness of children’s ”horror“ fiction, the seminar will be fully dedicated to a selection of both literary texts and their filmic adaptations to explore the nature of the horror elements and will distinguish the ways how different aspects of horror are resonating with the portrayal of children’s contemporary concerns in popular-culture productions.
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