ENG 251: Film and Literature
Fall 201
Section C2: Thursday, 8:30
–11:15 am
                  North Annex 102


Brian T. Murphy

Nassau Community College
Schedule and Office Hours

e-mail: brian.murphy@ncc.edu

or bmurphy@Brian-T-Murphy.com


Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.









Important Announcements and Updates: Click HERE

Print-friendly (MS Word) course outline here.
Other printable documents:
Model for Evaluation of Student Writing
Revision and Editing Checklist
Essay Outline

“Everyone who sees films based on novels feels able to comment, at levels ranging from the gossipy to the erudite, on the nature and success of the adaptation involved. That is, the interest in adaptation [...] ranges backwards and forwards from those who talk of novels as being ’betrayed’ by boorish film-makers to those who regard the practice of comparing film and novel a waste of time.

—Brian McFarlane, Novel to Film

“Horror has become so pervasive that we don’t even notice how thoroughly it has entered the public consciousness. It’s on television, in the movies, and in the show that goes on in our minds when we go to bed at night. The modern horror movie has not only established a vocabulary for us to articulate our fears. It has taught us what to be scared of.

—Jason Zinoman, Shock Value


This course compares different techniques and effects of literature and film. Students explore genre, form, structure, symbolism, myth, and convention in both media. Writing is an integral component of the course.

Prerequisites: ENG 102 or ENG 109.

This course explores the complex interplay between film and literature. Selected novels, short stories and plays are analyzed in relation to film versions of the same works in order to gain an understanding of the possibilities—and problems—involved in the transposition to film. As this is a course in literature and film analysis, students do not need to have taken other film courses before taking this course. However, it is assumed that students have successfully completed the prerequisites for this course, ENG 101 and ENG 102 (or their equivalent).  Therefore, students are expected to have the necessary background and experience in analyzing, discussing, and responding to literature, as well as the ability to conduct independent research and to write correctly documented research essays  using MLA format. Students are cautioned that this course requires extensive reading and writing in addition to viewing films and taking part in class discussions. Students not prepared to read (up to 150 pages/week), to write on a regular basis, and to take an active part in class discussions should not consider taking this course.



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OBJECTIVES: Students will

ball2.gif (137 bytes)  Enhance their ability to understand, appreciate, and discuss works of literature through extensive reading and discussion of short stories, novels and plays.

ball.gif (137 bytes)  Analyze works of fiction and drama for plot structure, setting, characterization, theme, and narrative point of view.

ball.gif (137 bytes)  Develop an understanding of critical analysis of film through careful examination of cinematic adaptations of literary texts, focusing on character development, dramatic structure, and performance.

ball.gif (137 bytes)  Learn and utilize the terminology of film analysis, both those terms shared with literary discussion (character, plot, theme, setting) and those specific to cinema (lighting, montage, special effects, etc.).

ball.gif (137 bytes)  Demonstrate an understanding of the possibilities and problems involved in the transposition of literature to film, applying terminology and critical skills acquired during the semester to analyze a cinematic adaptation of a text not discussed in class.



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(see also Additional Textbook Options, below)

The choice of  texts and  films cannot in any sense be considered an exhaustive or even seriously representative one. Instead, the aim has been to select sufficiently diverse literary texts, including both novels and short stories, to allow the study of a number of different approaches within the horror genre ( as well as to provide sufficient examples of cinematic adaptation, including multiple versions—or visions—of a text, and modernizations or adaptations of classic works of literature.

All of the following texts will be available at the Nassau Community College bookstore. Although I have ordered specific editions, these texts are all widely available in several different mass market editions; almost any edition that you find will be acceptable, so check school or public libraries and used bookstores. Prices listed at Amazon.com (below) do not include shipping, and are accurate as of posting date only; no guarantees of prices or availability are express or implied§.


King, Steven. Carrie. New York: Anchor, 2013. ISBN 9780345805874. (Available used starting at $0.82 at Amazon.com)

Levin, Ira. Rosemary's Baby. New York: Norton (Pegasus), 2014. ISBN 9781605981109. (Available used starting at $3.18 at Amazon.com)

Matheson, Richard. I Am Legend. New York: Tor, 2007. ISBN 9780765357151. (Available used starting at $0.01 at Amazon.com)

Additional  required readings will also be assigned and  made available as photocopies or as links, including:

Campbell, John W. “Who Goes There?

Langelaan, George. The Fly.” (also here)

Matheson, Richard. “Prey.” (included in I Am Legend)


Hacker, Diana and Nancy Sommers. Rules for Writers, 7 ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012, or another current college-level handbook including 2009 MLA updates. (Available used starting at $21.35 at Amazon.com)
Note: The sixth edition of Rules for Writers with 2009 MLA Updates is also available, and quite a bit less expensive (Available used starting at $14.00 at Amazon.com).

Hutchings, Peter. The Horror Film. London: Routledge, 2004. (Available used starting at $21.60 at Amazon.com)

Monaco, James. How to Read a Film: Movies, Media, and Beyond, Revised 9 ed.. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. (Available used starting at $9.00 at Amazon.com)

Zinoman, Jason. Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror. New York: Penguin, 2011. (Available used starting at $2.82 at Amazon.com)

A good college-level dictionary (Available used starting at $0.01 at Amazon.com).

Additional recommended readings, predominantly critical essays or background information, will be indicated on the schedule (see Outline, below) with an asterisk (*).

Recommended additional texts:**


On Grammar, Writing, and Language:

Casagrande, June. Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language for Fun and Spite. New York: Penguin, 2006. (Available starting at $3.94 at Amazon.com)

---. Mortal Syntax: 101 Language Choices That Will Get You Clobbered by the Grammar SnobsEven If You’re Right. New York: Penguin, 2008 (Available used starting at $6.61 at Amazon.com).

Cathcart, Thomas and Daniel Klein. "Logic." Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar...: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes. New York: Abrams Image, 2006. 27-49. (Available used starting at $6.73 at Amazon.com)

---. Aristotle and an Aardvark Go to Washington: Understanding Political Doublespeak through Through Philosophy and Jokes. New York: Abrams Image, 2007. 27-49 (Available used starting at $10.85 at Amazon.com).

Crystal, David. Words, Words, Words. New York: Oxford U P, 2006 (Available used starting at $9.28 at Amazon.com)

Lederer, Richard. Anguished English: An Anthology of Accidental Assaults Upon Our Language. Charleston, SC: Wyrick & Company, 1987 (Available used starting at $0.01 at Amazon.com).

---. More Anguished English: An Expose of Embarrassing Excruciating, and Egregious Errors in English. New York: Dell, 1994 (Available used starting at $0.01 at Amazon.com).

Truss, Lynne. Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. New York: Gotham Books, 2004 (Available used starting at $2.70 at Amazon.com).


On Film and Adaptations:

Cahir, Linda Costanzo. Literature into Film: Theory And Practical Approaches. [New York?]: McFarland, 2006.(Available used starting at $21.84 at Amazon.com) †

Corrigan, Timothy, ed. Film and Literature: An Introduction and Reader. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999. 340-356. (Available starting at $11.00 at Amazon.com)

---. Film and Literature: An Introductionn and Reader, 2 ed. [New York?]: Routledge, 2011. (Available used starting at $32.10 at Amazon.com) †

Desmond, John M. Adaptation: Studying Film and Literature. Boston/New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005. (Available used starting at $23.00 at Amazon.com) †

Giannetti, Louis. Understanding Movies, 10 ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2005. (Available starting at $54.00 at Amazon.com)

Harrison, Stephanie. Adaptations: From Short Story to Big Screen: 35 Great Stories That Have Inspired Great Films. [New York?]: Three Rivers P, 2005. (Available used starting at $8.50 at Amazon.com)

McFarlane, Brian. Novel to Film: An Introduction to the Theory of Adaptation. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1996. (Available used starting at $9.99 at Amazon.com)

Mendelsohn, Daniel and Zoe Heller. What Are We Meant to Get Out of Movies Based on Short Stories and Novels? New York Times Sunday Book Review 29 Dec. 2013.

Monaco, James. How to Read a Film: Movies, Media and Beyond. New York: Oxford, 2009. (Available used starting at $11.14 at Amazon.com)†

Seger, Linda. The Art of Adaptation: Turning Fact And Fiction Into Film.  [New York?]: Owl Books, 1992. (Available starting at $1.25 at Amazon.com )†

Vankin, Jonathan. Based on a True Story: Fact and Fantasy in 100 Favorite Movies. Chicago: Chicago Review P, 2005. (Available starting at $4.99at Amazon.com)†


On Reading, Literature, and Specific Texts:

Bloom, Harold. How to Read and Why. New York: Scribner, 2000. (Available starting at $1.00 at Amazon.com)

Denby, David. Great Books: My Adventures with Homer, Rousseau, Woolf, and Other Indestructible Writers of the Western World. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. (Available starting at $0.29 at Amazon.com).

Dirda, Michael. Classics for Pleasure. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2007. (Available starting at $1.49 at Amazon.com)

Foster, Thomas C. How to Read Literature Like a Professor. [New York: Harper, 2008 ?]. (Available used starting at $3.21 at Amazon.com)†

---. How to Read Novels Like a Professor. New York: Harper, 2008. (Available used starting at $4.51 at Amazon.com)

King, Stephen. Why We Crave Horror Movies.” from Danse Macabre. New York: Doubleday, 1981. Reprinted Gallery Books, 2010.(Available used starting at $4.24 at Amazon.com)

Gould, Stephen Jay. The Monster’s Human Nature. Dinosaur in a Haystack: Reflections in Natural History. New York: Harmony, 1995. 53-62. (Available starting at $1.70 at Amazon.com)

Hoobler, Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler. The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein. New York: Little, Brown, 2006. (Available starting at $0.99 at Amazon.com)

LaValley, Albert J. "The Stage and Film Children of Frankenstein: A Survey." The Endurance of Frankenstein. Eds. George Levine and U. C. Knoepflmacher. Berkeley: U of California P, 1979. 243-248. (Available starting at $39.95 at Amazon.com)

Niles, Steve and Richard Matheson. I Am Legend. Illus. Elman Brown. San Diego, CA: IDW Publisihing, 2005. (Available starting at $8.95 at Amazon.com)



* Note that all major reading selections for the semester are available online, as indicated by links (see Schedule, below). However, students must have a copy of the appropriate text(s) with them for each class session, whether they have purchased the textbooks,  obtained paperback versions or  library copies. or printed out hardcopy from the Internet;  no excuses about computer or printer problems will be accepted.

** Recommended additional texts are not required purchases, and have not been ordered for the course; however, they provide—depending on the course— alternative readings, historical and cultural backgrounds, criticism, personal literary responses, or entertaining (irreverent, possibly sacrilegious) revisions. Students who find themselves becoming deeply interested in one or more of the required readings may find these interesting and/or useful. When indicated with a dagger (†), texts are only provisionally recommended, as I have not read these works yet, although they have received excellent reviews or recommendations.


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Students must not only attend every class, but also arrive on time, be prepared, and take an active part in class (see Participation, below); students may be required to sign in each class session to verify their attendance. Moreover, once students get to class, they are expected to stay in the classroom until the class is over. Leaving class early or getting up in the middle of class is considered disruptive behavior and should happen only in extreme emergencies.

Excessive absences or latenesses will affect your grade; students missing more than four classes will fail the course. Students unable to attend class should contact the instructor regarding their absence in advance or as soon as they return to school.

Plagiarism and Cheating:
Plagiarism includes copying or paraphrasing another’s words, ideas, or facts without crediting the source; submitting a paper written by someone else, either in whole or in part, as one’s own work; or submitting work previously submitted for another course or instructor. Plagiarism, cheating, or other forms of academic dishonesty on any assignment will result in failure (a grade of zero) for that assignment and may result in further disciplinary action, including but not limited to failure for the course and expulsion from the college. See the Nassau Community College Policy on Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism (page 18 in the college catalog).

Homework/Essay Submission:
All writing assignments must be received by the instructor on or before the due date, by the beginning of the class period, as indicated on the schedule, below.
Essays submitted by email or otherwise submitted late will not be accepted; see below. All at-home work must be typed (in 12-point Times New Roman), double-spaced, with one-inch margins, and stapled when submitted. In-class work must be neatly printed in blue or black ink on loose-leaf composition paper or in bluebooks provided by the instructor and double-spaced§. All essays must also include a proper heading (see Purdue Online Writing Lab's Formatting and Style Guide), including Word Count; have an appropriate, original title; contain a clear, explicit, assertive, objectively worded thesis statement (thesis statements must be underlined); and (unless otherwise indicated) avoid use of I or you throughout. Finally, all work should be grammatically correct, free of errors in mechanics, grammar, usage, spelling, and documentation, and will be evaluated according to the Model for Evaluation of Student Writing. Please refer to the Paragraph Outline or Essay Outline and Revising and Editing Checklist for additional assistance. 

 §  On format, handwriting, and neatness, see Chase, Clinton I. “Essay Test Scoring: Interaction of Relevant Variables.” Journal of Educational Measurement 23.1 (1986): 33-41; and  Marshall, Jon C. and Jerry M. Powers. “Writing Neatness, Composition Errors, and Essay Grades.” Journal of Educational Measurement 6.2 (1988): 306-324.

All failing essays may be revised and resubmitted by the due dates announced when the graded essays are returned.
Essays receiving a passing grade may also be revised and resubmitted, but only after the student has met with the instructor during office hours (by appointment only) to discuss revisions.

Revisions must be substantially revised, not merely “corrected” versions of the original essay (revisions should be based upon the Revising and Editing Checklist and relevant information from class and the textbooks), and must be submitted with the original graded essay and/or draft(s) attached. Evidence of substantial revision may result in a better grade for the assignment. 

If you did not submit a completed essay on time, you will receive a grade of 0 and may not submit a “revision.”

Make-up Exams/Late Work:
All assignment deadlines and scheduled exam dates are provided at the beginning of the semester; therefore, late papers will not be accepted nor will make-up opportunities be offered, except under extraordinary circumstances with appropriate documentation; work submitted after deadlines will receive a  grade reduction of 10% for each day it is late. Excuses such as “crashed computers,” “lost flash drives,” or “empty printer ink cartridges” will not be accepted; therefore, all essays or work should be saved both on your computer’s hard drive and again on removable storage device, and students should keep backup copies of all work submitted.

Disabilities and Accommodations :
If you have a physical, psychological, medical, or learning disability that may impact  your ability to carry  out assigned course work, I urge that you contact the Center for Students with Disabilities(CSD), Building U.(516 572-7241).  The counselors at CSD will review your concerns and determine reasonable accommodations you are entitled to by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. All information and documentation of disability remain confidential.



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As this class will combine both lecture and discussion, students are expected both to attend every session and to take an active part in class—joining in discussions and raising questions. Discussion is one of the best ways to clarify your understandings and to test your conclusions. Open discussion always involves personal exposure, and thus the taking of risks: your ideas may not be the same as your fellow students’ or even the instructor’s. Yet as long as your points are honest and supportable, they need to be respected by all of us in the classroom. Questions, discussion, disagreement, and laughter are all encouraged in this class. (However, ridicule or scoffing is never tolerated.)

QUIZZES (10%):
With the exception of the first day, class may begin with a short (five- to ten-minute) quiz or response paper on the reading(s) for the day, at the instructor’s discretion. Quizzes cannot be made up; if you miss a quiz due to absence or lateness, that grade will be regarded as a 0. At the end of the semester, the lowest quiz grade will be dropped. Total number of quizzes during the semester will determine the point value of each; that is, if 11 quizzes are given (lowest quiz grade will be dropped), each quiz is worth up to one full point.

Students will complete at least five short essays during the semester, on topics to be assigned (see Response Paper Topics, below). Essays must be at least 2-3 pages long (500-750 words), typed, double-spaced, grammatically correct, and submitted on or before the due date indicated on the schedule, below. Essays will be evaluated according to the Model for Evaluation of Student Writing. Please refer to the Essay Outline and Revision and Editing Checklist.

RESEARCH PAPER (30% total)
Students will also complete an argumentative (persuasive) Research Essay of at least seven to twelve pages (a minimum of 1500-2500 words), using a minimum of five to seven primary or secondary sources (secondary sources must be reliable: scholarly criticism or analysis, not summaries, reviews, or “analysis” from sites such as e-Notes, SparkNotes, Wikipedia*, 123HelpMe, or Gradesaver.com), correctly documented utilizing MLA format (see also Documenting Films in MLA Style), with a cover page and Works Cited page (cover page and Works Cited do not count toward the seven-page requirement). Topics should be selected from a list of suggestions provided (see Research Paper Topics, below), or developed in consultation with the instructor. The research essay will be completed in stages during the semester; points will accrue as follows:

Topic Selection (5 %):
Before beginning the research essay assignment, students will develop and submit a clear, well-written, one-page explanation of the topic chosen from the list provided and the reason for selection. This proposal should include a preliminary idea of the plan of the paper, its intention or research question, and a preliminary thesis.

Annotated Bibliography (5 %):
Students will develop and submit an annotated bibliography for the research essay assignment, with a minimum of five to seven sources, correctly documented according to MLA format.

Research Paper: Final Draft (20 %):
The final draft of the research paper must be submitted in a folder, including copies of all sources used and all of the above assignments associated with the research paper.


Students will complete a final exam during the official final exam period, evaluating students’ recognition and comprehension of material studied during the previous weeks. This exam will cover specific texts and films, as well as the principles of cinematic adaptation and critical analysis, and may combine objective questions and short essay answers. Students may be allowed to use notes or textbooks for the essay portion of the exams only.

EXTRA CREDIT (possibly various opportunities, at 1–2 points each):
Students may be notified of opportunities for extra credit during the semester, including attendance at various cultural events related to the class (Recommended Fieldtrips). If students attend one or more of these events, and provide evidence of attendance (ticket stub, program, unretouched digital image, et cetera) along with a typed one- to two-page personal response (review, analysis, reflection, critique, et cetera), they can receive additional points: a single event and written response is worth 2 points extra credit; attendance at additional events will earn one additional point each. Note: you may not attend the same events two or more times for additional extra credit!

Note: As a general rule, extra credit only helps if you have already completed all of the assigned work, and will not make up for missing an essay (or two, or three). Extra credit opportunities for Fall 2013 will be announced in class, and they will also be posted here as well as on the class Announcements page, so do not ask at the end of the semester for extra credit to bring your average up.

Extra credit opportunities to date:

Writing Center Grammar Review Workshops (1 point each)

Sentence Building and Avoiding Run-Ons, Comma Splices, and Fragments

Using Correct Punctuation: Commas, Semicolons, and Colons

Subject-Verb Agreement, Verb Formation, and Tense

Tuesday Club Hour Series
11:30 am to 12:45 pm, Bradley Hall Ballroom
October 7
: Sentence Building and Boundaries
October 21: Subject-Verb Agreement
November 4: The Verb Phrase

Wednesday Afternoon Series
2:00 pm to 3:15 pm, Bradley Hall Ballroom
October 1: Sentence Building and Boundaries
October 18: Subject-Verb Agreement
October 29: The Verb Phrase

Thursday Club Hour Series
11:30 am to 12:45 pm, L233A
 2: Sentence Building and Boundaries
October 23: Using Correct Punctuation
October 30: Tense Usage

Tuesday and Thursday Evening Series
Tuesday, September 30, 8:30-9:50 pm in CCB: Sentence Building and Boundaries         
October 23, 7:00-8:20 pm in L233A: : Using Correct Punctuation
Tuesday, October 28, 7:00-8:20 8pm in CCB: : Tense Usage

To reserve a seat at these workshops, please stop by or call:
The Writing Center in Bradley Hall (Bldg. Y) at 572-7195
The Writing Center Annex on 2nd floor of Library, room L233 at 572-3595

See updated flyer with revised information here.


NCC’s First Year Experience
Presented in unison with FYE’s Common Reading, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline:
1980s Film Festival

Star Wars  at 9:30 am
Tron at 12:30 pm
The Goonies  at 3:30 pm

Wednesday, October 29, 2014
11:00 AM to 12:15 PM
CCB 252-253
Administrators, faculty, students, classes, and staff are welcome and encouraged to attend.
See poster, here.



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Final average will be calculated as follows:

Attendance and Class Participation

10 %


10 %

Response Papers: 5 @ 8 %

40 %

Research Paper:

30 %

Topic Selection (5 %)


Annotated Bibliography (5 %)


Final Draft (20 %)


Final Exam

10 %


100 %

Extra Credit (if any) will be added to the final total.

Final average will determine the grade received for the course, as follows:

Final Percentage

Final Grade





8084 B






6064 D



Note: Percentages ending in .5 or greater are rounded up. Therefore, 79.5 rounds to 80, a B, but 79.4 rounds to 79, a C+.


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Important Dates: FALL SEMESTER 2014

Mon., 1 Sep. Labor Day: College Holiday
Tue., 2 Sep. Day, Evening & Distance Education classes begin
Fri., 5 Sep. Weekend College classes begin
Mon., 8 Sep. Last day to Add/Drop
Mon., 22 Sep. Last day to Drop
Wed., 24 Sep.
Evening classes do not meet (classes beginning after 5:01 p.m.)
Thu., 25 Sep.
Rosh Hashanah: College Holiday
Fri., 26 Sep.
Day classes do not meet; Evening classes (beginning after 5:01 p.m.) follow a regular schedule
Tue., 30 Sep.
Evening Activity Hour: 8:30 p.m. class will not meet; all other classes follow a regular schedule
Fri., 3 Oct. Evening classes (beginning after 5:01 p.m.) do not meet
Sat., 4 Oct.
Yom Kippur: classes do not meet
Mon., 13 Oct.
Classes do not meet
Fri., 7 Nov.
Last day automatic W
Mon., 10 Nov. Evening classes (beginning after 5:01 p.m.) do not meet
Tue., 11 Nov. Veterans’ Day: College Holiday
Tue., 18 Nov. Evening Activity Hour: 5:30 p.m. classes will not meet; all other classes follow a regular schedule
Mon., 24 Nov. Day classes meet on a Thursday schedule
Wed., 26 Nov.
Day classes meet on a Friday schedule; Evening classes do not meet
Thu., 27 Nov. Thanksgiving: College Holiday
Fri., 28 Nov. Thanksgiving Recess: College Holiday
Sat., 29 Nov. Classes do not meet
Sun., 30 Nov. Classes do not meet
Mon., 15 Dec. Evening classes extended by 5 minutes for final exams
Tue., 16 Dec. Evening classes extended by 5 minutes for final exams
Wed., 17 Dec. Evening classes extended by 5 minutes for final exams
Thu., 18 Dec. Evening classes extended by 5 minutes for final exams; Evening classes end
Sun., 21 Dec. Weekend College classes end
Mon., 22 Dec. Day & Distance Education classes end

Note: All dates subject to change;
Academic Calendar: Fall 2014 (.pdf)

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Projected Schedule of Readings and Assignments

Note: All readings below are required, and must be completed by the day indicated; the only exceptions are those indicated with an asterisk (*), which are recommended additional readings or resources.

Red text indicates due dates or links to assignments; Blue text indicates links to assignments, resources, or online versions of texts (Note: While every effort is made to verify the accuracy and usefulness of these links and their contents, no guarantees are made. Please notify me of any broken or outdated links at bmurphy@Brian-T-Murphy.com).

Note: This schedule is subject to revision according to the instructor’s discretion, the Academic Calendar for the semester, school closings due to inclement weather or other reasons, and the progress of the class. Additions or changes will be announced in class, and they will also be posted here as well as on the class Announcements page.




Mon., 1 Sep. Labor Day: College Closed
Tues., 2 Sep. Day, Evening & Distance Education (online) Classes Begin
Thu., 4 Sep. Introduction: Syllabus, texts, policies, assignments
Problems and Possibilities of Cinematic Adaptation;
What is
*See also, Clasen, Mathias. The Horror! The Horror!   The Evolutionary Review 1.1 (2010): 112-119. Academia.edu 2014.
King, Stephen. Why We Crave Horror Movies.” from Danse Macabre. New York: Doubleday, 1981. Reprinted Gallery Books, 2010.
Mon., 8 Sep. Last Day for Drop/Add
Thu., 11 Sep.

Reading: Campbell, John W. “Who Goes There?
Viewing: The Thing from Another World (1951)
Response Paper 1 due

Thu., 18 Sep.

Research Topic Due

Viewing: The Thing (1982)
Additional optional Response Paper (1+) due
Response Paper 2 due

Mon., 22 Sep. Last Day to Drop
Thu., 25 Sep. Rosh Hashanah - College Holiday
Thu., 2 Oct.

Reading: Matheson, Richard. I Am Legend Parts One and Two (Chapters 1–14)
Viewing: The Last Man on Earth (1964)
Response Paper 3 due

Thu., 9 Oct.

Reading: Matheson, Richard. I Am Legend Parts Three and Four (Chapters 15–21)
Viewing: I Am Legend (2007)
Response Paper 4 due

Thu., 16 Oct.

Reading: Langelaan, George. “The Fly” (also here)
The Fly (1958)
Response Paper 5 due

Thu., 23 Oct.

Annotated Bibliography Due

Viewing: The Fly (1986)
Response Paper 6 due

Thu., 30 Oct. Viewing: TBA
Thu., 6 Nov.

Reading: Matheson, Richard. “Prey” (included in I Am Legend)
Viewing: Trilogy of Terror (TV 1975)
Response Paper 7 due

*See also, Matheson, Richard. The Likeness of Julie” (also here and here )
                    and “Therese” (a.k.a. “
Needle in the Heart,” not presently available online )

Fri., 7 Nov. Last Day for Automatic W
Thu., 13 Nov.

Reading: Levin, Ira. Rosemary's Baby Part One
Viewing: Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Response Paper 8 due

*See also, Zinoman, Jason. The Devil's Advocate. Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares,
Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror
. New York: Penguin, 2011. 11-26.

Thu., 20 Nov.

Reading: Levin, Ira. Rosemary's Baby Parts Two and Three
Rosemary's Baby (TV 2014)
Response Paper 9 due

Mon., 24 Nov. Day classes meet on a Thursday schedule

Viewing: Rosemary's Baby (TV 2014)
Response Paper 10 due

Thu., 27 Nov. Thanksgiving - College Holiday
Thu., 4 Dec. Research Paper Due

Reading: King, Steven. Carrie Part One: Blood Sport
Viewing: Carrie (1976) and Carrie (2013)
Response Paper 11 due

*See also, Derr, Holly L. A Feminist Guide to Horror Movies, Part 5: The Blood of 'Carrie'. Ms. Magazine.com 28 Oct. 2013.

*Additional references:
Illusory Superiority (a.k.a. The Lake Wobegone Effect).” Wikipedia.org.
The Legend of the Pink Monkey,” also here and here; note especially the context(s) in which references appear!

Thu., 11 Dec. Reading: King, Steven. Carrie Parts Two and Three: Prom Night and Carnage
Viewing:  Carrie (1976) and Carrie (2013)
Response Paper 12 due

Research Paper returned

Thu., 18 Dec. Final Exam
Research Paper Revisions Due, as discussed
Mon., 22 Dec. Day & Distance Education classes end



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Response Paper Topics:
For each week, a question or topic will be provided. You may complete any five response papers, but  your response must be on the assigned topic for the week it is submitted, and must be submitted on or before the due date, by the beginning of the class period, or it will receive a zero (0). Late work will not be accepted. Students may complete more than five response papers for extra credit: only the best five scores will be utilized in determining final grades.

Instructions: Respond to each question or topic in a brief, well-developed, coherent, and thoughtful essay of at least two to three pages (500-750 words). Your essay should include independent analysis and demonstrate careful thought, but no research is necessary, nor should any secondary sources be used. This is not a research essay; the only sources utilized or quoted should be the texts themselves. Use of secondary sources, whether credited or not, will be considered grounds for failure. Although these are personal responses, and therefore there is no "correct" answer, remember that they are still formal essays: in your analyses, formulate a clear, explicit, assertive (persuasive), objectively-worded thesis statement, and avoid use of "I" or "you" throughout. Do not attempt to address all aspects of the text, but carefully focus your topic, and avoid merely paraphrasing or summarizing the work. Be sure to support your answers with specific references to the work. Essays must be typed, double-spaced, and grammatically correct; essays will be evaluated according to the Model for Evaluation of Student Writing.

1) Due Thursday, 11 September:
In “Who Goes There? "Real Men Only
(The Free Library. 2005 Extrapolation 03 Sep. 2014), the author suggests that a central concern of John W. Campbell's story is the boundary between self and other, between human and non-human, and the precariousness of this boundary. The article asserts, “the thing challenges our ideas of human self in two ways: first, it challenges the idea that self is unique and contained given that the thing can imitate any self and that its 'self' only grows by taking over and becoming others; second, the thing challenges our idea of the human as something defined through its differences from animals, as the thing becomes either with equal ease.” Explore the concept of selfhood and individuality as expressed in Campbells Who Goes There?” How might this concern reflect elements of the culture of the late 1930s? You might consider demographic, sociological, or even political changes in the period.

1.1) Additional response paper topic Due Thursday, 18 September:
How does the
1951 movie The Thing from Another World differ from the original “Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, and why? How do the two versions of the same story differ in terms of plot, characters, theme, and so on? Consider especially social, political, scientific, or cultural changes in the nearly fifteen years between the two works.

2) Due Thursday, 18 September:
In The Thing from Another World (1951), the fear and paranoia created by the presence of the alien invader may be read as a metaphor for Communism and the Red Scare. In The Thing (1982), however, the fear takes a different form: not Communism, but contagion. How is American society, or the world, different three decades after the first film, and how does this difference inform the interpretations of “The Thing” in each film?

2.1) Additional response paper topic Due Thursday, 2 October:
How does Carpenter’s 1982
The Thing differ from Christian Nyby's 1951 The Thing from Another World, and why? Consider not just advances in technology, changes in film production, and shifts in audience reception during the intervening thirty years, but significant social, political, scientific, or cultural changes in the three decades between the two films. Elements to consider in your analysis include textual fidelity, theme, the creature itself, characters and characterization (especially MacReady), effects, and—perhaps most important—blood and body horror” in the context of the early eighties.

3) Due Thursday, 2 October:
While Richard Matheson’s
I Am Legend is clearly a precursor to many of today's vampire and zombie films, it is also squarely within the traditional literary genre of survival narratives, from Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (and the story of Alexander Selkirk from which it derives) through The Swiss Family Robinson, Castaway starring Tom Hanks, and even in some ways Cormac McCarthy's novel The Road. Discuss I Am Legend [the novel, not the movie] in terms of the protagonist's struggle to survive, with reference to the basic needs of food, shelter, and so on. How is more akin to say, Robinson Crusoe than to Dracula, The Walking Dead, or other similar horror novels, movies, and programs?

4) Due Thursday, 9 October:
Richard Matheson has said, in an interview originally published in Cemetery Dance, “I was disappointed in The Last Man on Earth, even though they more or less followed my story.” Whyin terms of 1964, when the movie was released, not in terms of today's movie conventions, technology, and audiences—might he have been disappointed?

5) Due Thursday, 16 October:
Consider the novella I Am Legend (1954), the film The Last Man on Earth (1964), and the more recent film, I Am Legend (2007): how does the treatment or depiction of science (and scientists) and politics differ in each version? How does this shift reflect their different time periods, their different socio-cultural contexts? You may also add The Ωmega Man (1971) to your discussion, but only if you are already familiar with the film.

5.1) Due Thursday, 16 October:
George Langellan’s “The Fly” employs several layers of narration: the entire story is told as Francois’s first-person account, but within the story is embedded Helene's written “confession”; embedded within the confession, in turn, is Andre’s own account of his accident with the transporter. (This technique of nested narratives is quite similar to Mary Shelley’s original Frankenstein, by the way.) Why does Langellan present his story this way? What is his purpose, and what is the effect on the reader? That is, does it heighten or lessen the suspense, the horror, the plausibility?

6) Due Thursday, 23 October:
In one of the original trailers for the 1958 film The Fly (here), Vincent Price refers to that laboratory where a man actually dared to play God.” Consider both Langellan’s “The Fly” and the 1958 film (as well as the 1986 remake, if you are familiar with that movie, too): is the story or the film merely about the dangers of science, or the arrogance of “playing God? In what way does each present the idea that, as the science fiction cliché has it, “there are things man was not meant to know”? Is this merely a reductive, simplistic, or facile reading? That is, do the story and the movie have a more complicated message?

6.1) Due Thursday, 30 October:
In-class writing assignment (counts as a response paper)

6.2) Due Thursday, 30 October:
Contrast Kurt Neumann's The Fly with David Cronenburg's 1986 remake, focusing on one of these two ideas:

a. Character: Andre Delambre versus Seth Brundle.
Who is each character, what is he like, in terms of personality, background, motivation? What does this difference suggest about science, scientists, and their role(s) in society?

b. The Role of the Female: Helene versus Veronica.
An obvious, reductive reading of
The Fly (1958) and The Fly (1986) would present Geena Davis, in the role of Veronica, a "modern" woman, as strong, active, and "empowered"; it would also see Helene as a “traditional housewife (whatever that means). However, in what ways is Veronica—or the movie itself—also a reactionary depiction of women? Is Veronica somehow regressive, traditional? How and why?

7) Due Thursday, 6 November:
Is Prey” by Richard Matheson an anti-feminist text? Despite the first-person narration—and the fact that we never meet Amelia's mother or Arthur, Amelia's boyfriend—Amelia is dominated by her mother, by Arthur, and by “He Who Kills.” Contrast Amelia with Laurie Strode, from Halloween: both are pursued by killers who seek to murder/stab/penetrate, but while Laurie fights back (semi-) successfully, Amelia “succumbs to her attacker. Is this a reactionary message?

7.1) Due Thursday, 6 November:
In-class writing assignment (counts as a response paper):
In Trilogy of Terror we are presented with several different versions of femininity or  contrasting ideas of “woman”—whatever that means. “Julie, “Millicent and Therese,” and “Amelia” present images ranging from the [apparently] prudish, passive, or repressed to sexually active, from victim (or prey) to monstrous predator, perhaps from good to evil. How are Matheson's women portrayed in these selections; that is, how do these women differ, and why?

8) Due Thursday, 13 November:
In “The Power of Hunger: Demonism and Maggie Tolliver” (Nineteenth Century Fiction 30.2 (Sep. 1975): 150-171), Nina Auerbach refers to Rosemary's Baby as a pristine antifertility [myth] in which the [woman]'s hunger to reproduce threatens all the norms we are supposed to cherish.” She continues, “Once she has been supernaturally infected, the 'natural' woman casts the most dangerous shadow of all, for she is able to breed within her the germ of a new death” (169-170). Is what Auerbach suggests true, and if so, how? Is Rosemary's desire for a child somehow “wrong”? Outside of the reality (?) of Rosemary's impregnation by Satan, is pregnancy itself, or the desire to become pregnant, somehow presented as monstrous in the novel?

9) Due Thursday, 20 November:
According to Sharon Marcus, in Placing Rosemary's Baby” (differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 5.3 (Fall 1993): 121+.),  Marriage and pregnancy transform Rosemary from a quasi-single girl for whom the city is a place of opportunity into an unhappy quasi-suburban married woman who suffers from a version of 'the problem with no name,' the housewife's syndrome whose symptoms included agoraphobia, depression, extreme weight loss, anxiety, and inexplicable physical ailments.” Is the horror of this novel then the psychological portrait of Rosemary, and not the Satanic element? Can Rosemary's pregnancy be read as representative of a woman's experience of pregnancy, confinement” (in more than one sense), and perhaps subjugation to the demands of her body, her unborn child, or her family? How does the novel represent Rosemary—and, by extension, any woman—as a victim of her pregnancy, her husband, and even perhaps her [patriarchal] society? Is this reading more or less likely when one considers the novel's publication date, and its author?

10) Due Monday, 24 November:
In her New York Times review, Wanting a Child in the Worst Way: Rosemary's Baby Is Remade into a Mini-series, Alessandra Stanley writes, Because [Rosemary]  is a newcomer in Paris, her naïveté and dependency make sense: She is an American with few friends and almost no French, marooned in a city where everyone seems to share a glamorous secret no outsider could begin to understand.” Compare her situation in this version to that of Rosemary in the novel and the original 1968 film; the “original” Rosemary is also, in some ways, naïve, dependent, and isolated, but for different reasons. How are these different interpretations of the protagonist herself similar, and how do they differ? How do their individual situations differ, and why? Be sure to consider the different time periods, the different socio-cultural contexts, as well as the shifts in literary and cinematic tastes in the intervening 45 years.

11) Due Thursday, 4 December:
Carrie by Stephen King is written in a semi-epistolary format. That is, unlike true epistolary novels such as Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson or Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley, King uses a combination of excerpts from letters, newspaper and magazine articles, and books, as well as traditional third-person narrative. This is an approach more like that employed by, say, Bram Stoker or Michael Crichton, and a very different way of telling a story than many readers are used to. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this approach, and how does it enhance—or diminish—the impact of the novel on the reader?

12) Due Thursday, 11 December:
In Danse Macabre, Stephen King writes,

Carrie is largely about how women find their own channels of power, but also what men fear about women and women’s sexuality. Writing the book in 1973 and only three years out of college, I was fully aware of what Women’s Liberation implied for me and others of my sex. Carrie is woman feeling her powers for the first time and, like Samson, pulling down the temple on everyone in sight at the end of the book. (qtd. in Derr)

In contrast, Holly Derr, in A Feminist Guide to Horror Movies, Part 5: The Blood of 'Carrie',” states that Carrie is as much an articulation of a feminist nightmare as it is of a patriarchal one, with neither party coming out on top.

Consider King's depiction of Carrie White in the novel, and her transformation from victim to violent avenger, as well as her eventual end. In what ways is the novel feminist, or perhaps anti-feminist? Progressive or reactionary? Does it reflect, as King seems to suggest, male fears (possibly unconscious) of female empowerment and/or sexuality?



Research Paper: Due in stages (see below)
Compose a clear, well-written, properly documented (MLA format) argumentative essay of at least seven to twelve pages (1500-2500 words minimum), with a cover page and Works Cited page (cover page and Works Cited do not count toward the seven-page requirement). The paper must be argumentative (persuasive), with a clear, explicit, and assertive thesis statement, and must use a minimum of five to seven sources, including three to five secondary sources; secondary sources must be scholarly criticism or analysis, not summaries, reviews, or analysis” from sites such as e-Notes, SparkNotes, Wikipedia*, 123HelpMe, or Gradesaver.com. You must include at least one short quotation, one long—block—quotation, and one paraphrase, and these sources must be properly documented (utilizing MLA format), and integrated into your writing smoothly and correctly. See also Research Paper checklist.

* On use of Wikipedia in college-level research, see Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales on PBS NewsHour, here: I don't think at a university level it makes sense to cite any encyclopedia in an academic paper. That's just not what an encyclopedia's role is in the research process. Maybe if you're in junior high, you know? If some kid out there is twelve years old and they wrote something and they put in a footnote, we should be thrilled, right? That's his first start on the idea of crediting other people with ideas and things like that, but at the university level? No, it's a bit junior high to cite an encyclopedia.

Please refer to the following as well:

ball2.gif (137 bytes)   Formatting and Style Guide (Purdue Online Writing Lab)

ball2.gif (137 bytes)   Incorporating Sources (class handout)

ball2.gif (137 bytes)   Class Plagiarism Policy (on syllabus), as well as the Nassau Community College Policy on Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism (page 63 in the college catalog).

You might also find the following additional resources useful:

ball2.gif (137 bytes)   Works Cited page (Instructions & Sample) (Microsoft Word document)

ball2.gif (137 bytes)   Avoiding Plagiarism (Houghton-Mifflin web site)

ball2.gif (137 bytes)   Practice Incorporating Sources into Your Work (Houghton-Mifflin web site)

ball2.gif (137 bytes)   MLA format (Purdue university's Online Writing Lab)

Topic Selection and Preliminary Thesis: Due Thursday, 18 Sep.
You must establish a plan and a clear thesis before you can begin to put together a focused, well-organized, and purposeful research essay. Therefore, as your first step in the research essay assignment, you must develop and submit a clear, well-written, one-page explanation of the topic you have chosen, your reason for the selection, your focus and opinion, and a clear, well-written, explicit, and assertive preliminary thesis. This proposal may also include a preliminary idea of the plan of the paper, its intention or research question. Note: Choose your topic carefully. You will not be allowed to change your topic once you have made your selection, although you may change your position on the particular issue and will, presumably, modify your thesis during the process of research and writing.

Your work should take the following form:
Topic: the topic selected from the list provided.
Rationale: why you have chosen to research and write about this particular topic.
Focus: a narrowed form of the subject, and the issue or debate involved.
Opinion: your subjective opinion on the debate or issue.
Thesis: your opinion, worded objectively.

For example:
Multiple adaptations of I Am Legend (Note: this is not a real topic choice!)
Rationale: I selected this topic because I saw the film version with Will Smith, and I am curious how other versions differ and why.
Focus: How do The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971), and I Am Legend with Will Smith (2007) differ in terms of textual fidelity and audience appreciation?
Opinion: I think that while all three movies are okay,  is the most interesting for contemporary audiences.
Thesis: While Ubaldo Ragona’s The Last Man on Earth is largely faithful to the text and Boris Sagal’s The Omega Man is at least innovative and interesting for its time, Francis Lawrence’s I Am Legend captures the major conflicts and issues of the novel  in an entertaining, realistic, and commercially successful manner.

Topic Choices:

1) A large number of works of horror, in addition to those discussed in class, have been filmed more than once. Choose one such text, other than those on the syllabus, and analyze at least two different film versions (see Sample Introduction). How does each version adapt, revise, or alter the story? What is changed or left out, and why? How do all of these individual changes contribute to a different interpretation of the text; that is, what is the significant difference between the versions? And, finally, how does the socio-cultural milieu of each film inform these differences? Some suggested works (see me if you have others in mind):

ball.gif (137 bytes) Robert Bloch, Psycho (the original 1960 version and the 1998 remake)

ball.gif (137 bytes) Stephen King, The Shining (Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 classic, and the 1997  television miniseries directed by Mick Garris)

ball.gif (137 bytes) J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Carmilla (also here)  (as Blood and Roses. 1960, Crypt of the Vampire, 1964, The Vampire Lovers, 1970, Lust for a Vampire, 1971, The Blood Spattered Bride, 1972, Alucarda, 1977, and so on....)

ball.gif (137 bytes) Fritz Leiber, Conjure Wife (as Weird Woman, 1944, Burn, Witch, Burn, 1962, and Witches' Brew, 1980)

ball.gif (137 bytes) Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (Seriously, hundreds, at least, including the classic 1931 James Whale version and  Kenneth Branagh’s 1994 version, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein)

ball.gif (137 bytes) Bram Stoker, Dracula (I mean, c’mon, how many versions are there? Like hundreds? and remember, as Homer Simpson says, “Vampires are imaginary—like elves, gremlins, and Eskimos.”)

ball.gif (137 bytes) John Wyndham, The Midwich Cuckoos into the classic 1960 Village of the Damned (parodied on The Simpsons as The Bloodening), the Spanish-language Pueblo de Malditos, and the 1995 John Carpenter remake.

ball.gif (137 bytes) and more to come, as I think of them.....

2) Many familiar tropes, ideas, or themes appear over and over again in horror, either in literature, in film, or both. For example, all of the texts and films for this course fall into one or more of the following categories:

 ball.gif (137 bytes) Alien Invaders

 ball.gif (137 bytes) Bad Science and Man-Made Monsters (There are things man was not meant to know.”)

 ball.gif (137 bytes) Creepy Dolls and Homicidal Puppets

 ball.gif (137 bytes) Demonic Possession

 ball.gif (137 bytes) Psychic Powers

 ball.gif (137 bytes) Vampires and Ghouls and Zombies (oh, my)

 ball.gif (137 bytes) When Animals Attack

Select a recurrent horror trope such as one of these, and analyze how it features in at least three texts and/or films from at least three different decades, not including those on the syllabus. For example, “When Animals Attack” can range from Daphne du Maurier’s “The Birds” (filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1963) to Them! (1954) to Night of the Lepus (1972), Jaws (1975) and countless others. As above, your discussion should focus on the significant difference between the interpretations, how (and why) the socio-cultural milieu of each film creates and reveals these differences.


*Note: Students must obtain prior approval for independent topics; speak to me before or after class or email me to set up an appointment during my office hours.

Annotated Preliminary Bibliography: Due Thursday, 23 Oct.
You must submit an  annotated preliminary bibliography with a minimum of five to seven sources, correctly cited according to MLA style. This may include up to three primary sources and a minimum of three to five secondary sources; secondary sources must be scholarly criticism or analysis, not summaries, reviews, or analysis” from sites such as e-Notes, SparkNotes, Wikipedia*, 123HelpMe, or Gradesaver.com; instead, use the library resources, including the available electronic databases such as Academic Search Complete, InfoTrac General OneFile, Lexis-Nexis Academic, Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Points of View Reference Center, and CQ Researcher, to locate appropriate sources. To access the databases from home, click on the individual database link. Then, when prompted, enter your username (N #) and password (PIN).

In addition to a correct citation for each source, you must include a description or summary of the source, at least one paragraph long, and an explanation of how you foresee incorporating it into your essay. For additional information on Annotated Bibliographies, see the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL)’s Annotated Bibliographies, as well as “Sample Annotated Bibilography” and Ebel, Kimberly, “Class and Gender in Cinderella: Annotated Bibliography.”

You might also find the following additional resources useful:

ball2.gif (137 bytes)   MLA Documentation of Films: Works Cited and In-Text Citations

ball2.gif (137 bytes)   Works Cited page (Instructions & Sample) (Microsoft Word document)

ball2.gif (137 bytes)   MLA format (Purdue university's Online Writing Lab)


Research Paper: Due Thursday, 4 Dec.
The final research essay must be submitted, in its folder with all supporting materials: photocopies or printouts of all sources, preliminary thesis, preliminary bibliography, outline–if you have completed one–and any preliminary drafts. Failure to bring the required essay on the due date will result in a zero for the assignment.



Final Exam: Thursday, 18 Dec.

To be announced


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