HUMA 1780 EXAM REVIEW
DEFINITIONS & MAIN TOPICS
GOTHIC - Gothic tales have many specific elements:
1. Use of setting to evoke fear/anxiety in the reader using physical/atmospheric
2. Elements of the uncanny: existence of mystery; unstable/blur of classification.
• We can no longer distinguish one thing from another.
• Animate and inanimate no longer distinguished from one another.
3. Elements of estrangement: the process of the familiar made strange.
• Things have gone horribly wrong.
• Transformation of things we don't recognize.
• Familiar world that becomes estranged to us.
4. Art of grotesquery: distortion of forms and features that are unsettling and can be
• Ex. A Rose for Emily - Emily is described to me made into a gargoyle.
5. Presence of Doppelgangers: representations of a double.
• Can be physical, metaphoric, literal or complete opposites.
6. Simultaneous feeling of attraction and repulsion: contradictory.
• The feeling of being repulsed or wanting to look or avoid something, yet
somehow being attracted towards it.
o Ex. A car crash - we don't want to look because of all the
destruction, but at the same time we want to look out of curiosity.
7. Fear of life.
• Life is feared because it has transformed into something unfamiliar, and
therefore death is welcomes as a hope to escape.
• Deals with human/physical corruption.
• William Wilson
• Black Swan
• The use of minimal sound.
o Makes a film seem mysterious and gloomy; makes the viewer anxious;
puts you on edge; amplifies when there is sound.
o Sound effects such as:
Howling of a wolf
Sounds of wind
Atmospheric elements: rain, thunder etc.
o Ex. In Dracula (1931), when you hear the sound of horses against the
rocks of the ground, it doesn't seem like there is a driver driving the
horses; this sets the scene that something is wrong when he is on his
way to Dracula's house. Setting
• Night is associated with gothic tales because it creates an atmosphere of fear.
o Creates uncertainty - evokes fear because we don't know what's out
• Occurs in a castle or large house; creates mystery - what could be hidden or
lurking in the house?
o Vastness: large; isolated; enormous.
o Seem to be less controllable environments.
• The use of spider webs, staircases and larger-than-life-looking objects.
• Antiquity: Everything looks as if it hasn't been touched (dusty).
• Subterranean world: World of the underground is important in a gothic; we first
see beetles, the rat, the armadillos, and the coffins in Dracula, and Dracula is
first introduced emerging from the smoke. We are introduced to the supernatural
being of Dracula before Renfield enters the house and meets him.
SOUTHERN GOTHIC - A type of story in which the story takes place in Southern America.
Typically, these stories are characterized by grotesque incidents (i.e. wars, etc.).
• Example: A Rose for Emily - William Faulkner
o Setting is in the US.
o Blurring of the real and the inanimate.
o Emily and her house are described in similar manners.
The house is described with human characteristics similar to those of
o Slave owners
o The pain of civil war depicts the story.
o A forbidding atmosphere.
o Old mansion.
o Decay, putrefaction and grotesquerie.
o Oppressive society that is undergoing rapid change.
o Emily = damsel in distress.
She is described as a monument.
NARRATIVE POV - How the story is being told (film or text).
NARRATIVE STRUCTURE - The conventions or how it's organized. How are the chapters
EMBEDDED NARRATIVE - A story within a story.
EPISTOLARY - A narrative form that follows the form of a letter.
• (i.e. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley)
TALL TALE - A story with unbelievable/improbable/unusual elements.
• Vernacular - Everyday language use; not proper English or standard use of English
• Stories that are embellished. • Hyperboles are used.
• Humor is used.
• Common in American frontier.
• Example: Big Fish (2003) - Dir. by Tim Burton
o Ed Bloom tells his son about many unusual events that took place in his young
He met a witch who showed him her glass eye that revealed how he
Spent 3 years in bed attached to a machine b/c he was growing too fast.
Discovered the hidden town of Spectre.
Worked at a Circus and discovered that the ring leader is a werewolf.
At the end his stories were technically true, just embellishments.
THE FRONTIER - A grand, natural space that has been unconquered by man.
• Frederick Jackson Turner's Frontier Thesis:
The Frontier shapes our future.
A space where men are men.
A grand, natural space that must be conquered.
• Those who conquer it become better.
The Frontier shaped the American being and characteristics.
• Drove American history.
• The frontier helped pull America away from European ideal and to
develop their own identity.
• The idea of novelty:
o Not relying on ancient/traditional form.
o Energy → Response → Self-reliance → Independence →
o New forms and new time periods mean different and new
ways of doing things.
o Concept of liberty = free; unfettered; in order to self-
actualize individual expression of oneself.
o Access to free land.
Dependent on American traits
Social; not just physical.
• Expansion to the West changed people's views on their culture.
o Why is the West important to the development of
Territorial expansion of resources.
Composite Identity/Nationality because of the
interaction in the space.
• Composite - made up of various parts or
• The expansion of the American frontier in
combination with European immigration to
American soils. Defined characteristics of an American Identity.
• Democracy can be traced to the importance
of the West.
• Without the frontier there would be no
developed meaning of democracy.