School of History

HST6380 – American Horror Stories: The Fiction and Film Worlds of Stephen King from Carrie to It

Module code: HST6380

Credits: 15
Semester: SEM 2

Module Convenor: Dr Matt Jacobsen

With a career spanning over 40 years, Stephen King is one of the world's most popular and influential writers, his stories and iconic characters forming an integral part of the American cultural landscape.  Film adaptations of his work continue to receive critical acclaim and extraordinary box office success. The analysis of Horror film and fiction can reveal cultural anxieties at significant socio-historic moments. In this module, we will explore the ways in which Stephen King's shorter novels, novellas and film adaptations of his work interrogate the American psyche, capturing its fears and apprehensions at defining points in modern history. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, this QMUL Model module will use King's work as a lens through which to examine developments in American horror cinema and fiction, investigating the articulation of cultural anxieties from the New England Puritan imagination in the influential works of Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft to the disillusioned aftermath of the Vietnam War in 'Carrie' and contemporary contexts of gender, empowerment and sexuality in 'Gerald's Game'. While the module will focus on the Horror texts for which King is renowned, we will look at his contribution to other genres, from the depiction of boyhood in 'Stand by Me' to the prison melodrama of the world's favourite movie, 'The Shawshank Redemption'. We will read and reflect on what we can learn about our own writing from King's memoir and reflection on the writing process, 'On Writing'.

Assessment: Take Home Exam (1,000 words) [25%] and Essay (3,000 words) [75%]
Level: 6