Another Automaton/ Assignments (HUM220/ HUM303)

“When you break his rules your worst nightmare will come to life.”

Here’s another iteration of the automaton figure which seems to produce such an uncanny effect. Recall, dear gothicists (?), that Freud argues contra Jentsch that it is the act of blinding that exerts real psychological power in ETA Hoffmann’s “The Sandman” rather than the clockwork debutante Olympia.


On Monday we’ll hit up Freud’s essay again and I’ll probably test you on it somehow. Maybe an in-class writing assignment or a pop quiz.


Be sure to read Kromm for Monday and finish The Black Spider as soon as you can. Seriously. Get in a couple of sustained reading sessions this weekend. This is not a long book. We will only have 3 sessions on the novella. Then we’re moving on to The Haunting of Hill House.


The Golem is a somewhat demanding example of modernist fiction– specifically what is known as literary Expressionism, a genre Franz Kafka is usually identified with. While there are certainly realist aspects to the narrative discourse (what are they?) the reality principle of the novel as whole is rather plastic. I want you to read the first third of this novel by Monday, Oct. 19. We will also look over Kromm’s very short essay. Next Wednesday, Oct. 21, we will continue our interpretation of The Golem and check in on Abbott’s Introduction to Narrative. In general we need to allow his language and concepts to filter into our classroom discussions (as, notably, several students have been doing already).

A final note:

Let’s standardize our usage of the term Gothic. Capitalize Gothic in reference to the historical period (do you know roughly when that is?); architecture, the ethnic group, and literature. Do not capitalize gothic when referring to a font (gothic type); the goth subculture; or using the term in general (“The film has a very gothic atmosphere”).

So: Gothic cathedral, Gothic novel, Gothic period, Gothic warriors. Lower-case letters for gothic font, gothic imagery, and goth music and goths.

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