Syllabuzz: ENG 2701A Horror Film and Literature

English Lecturer Lina Kuhn introduces students to the horror genre through vampire films and literature.

A spooky church graveyard on a misty Winter morning

For more than a century, horror films have captured people’s imagination. But what about this art form is unique, and why does the genre continue to fascinate us? Lecturer in English Lina Kuhn is exploring this and other questions as part of her new course, ENG 2701A: Horror Film and Literature, by looking across countries and time periods to discover commonalities and divergences in horror works.

“[Horror] is a genre that is a form of escapism and that deeply reflects everything about our reality,” says Kuhn. “It allows us to confront all sorts of social, cultural and historical issues but at a remove that makes it a little bit easier to digest.”

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Students in the course are reading “Dracula” by Bram Stoker and “Fledgling” by Octavia Butler as well as other assorted texts. They compare them with essential vampire films. Kuhn plans to theme each semester differently based on horror tropes. This semester’s theme — “Nosferatu and His Shadows” — celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first vampire movie. Kuhn felt this theme was also timely because “Nosferatu” deals with racism, sexuality, pandemics and many other conversations relevant today.

“What is important about horror is that it gives us an outlet to explore what it means to be human and what humanity entails,” she says. Exploring the genre allows students to confront taboos and fears at a safe distance.

Kuhn chose to bring horror to the Elon community at an introductory level to allow students with less literature or film experience to benefit from this outlet. To involve students further in their own learning, Kuhn tasks them with developing their own discussion questions for the media they are consuming.

“Having a topic like vampires allows students to start thinking about close reading and start thinking about literary analysis in a way that is still extremely fun and exciting,” she says.

About the Professor:

Lecturer in English Lina Kuhn received her doctorate in comparative literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She specializes in 20th-century American and German literature and film; first-year writing; science and the humanities; horror; and science fiction.

Suggested Materials:

  • “Dracula” by Bram Stoker
  • “Fledgling” by Octavia Butler
  • “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” by Ana Lily Amirpour (2014)
  • “Nosferatu” by F. W. Murnau (1922)