WRIT 1122 | Writing: Horror | jesse.stommel@du.edu

Here’s what we’ll spend our time doing this quarter. The schedule will evolve as we proceed. Watch regularly for more details, added activities, and stuff might change or move around as our conversation does. Note that there are online activities in place of some class periods.

Week 1: Jan. 1 - 7

Tuesday, January 3: Introductions
12pm (sec. 26): Meet in AAC 284
4pm (sec. 66): Meet in Sturm 234

Thursday, January 5: Online asynchronous (which means use class time or work at your own pace on the stuff below)

First, read and watch:
Leigh Whannell, The Invisible Man (2020)
Film Riot, "5 Shot Types Every Filmmaker Should Know"

Then, do some stuff:
1) Sign up for our Discord server, using the invite link I added to Canvas and sent by e-mail. Here's a quick getting started guide for Discord, if you haven't used it. Discord will be an extension of our classroom and where you'll be sharing your work for the course and engaging with the work of your peers.

2) At the time we'd normally be meeting on Thursday this week, make a short (less than a minute) video introducing yourself to us. This can be super simple (shot on your phone, no editing, etc.). Share your video in the #who-are-we channel in Discord.

  • Don’t tell us your major, unless you have a story about it
  • Don’t tell us what you did over the holiday break, unless it involves giant snakes, parachuting, a unicorn, or it will be documented in a viral video
  • Don’t tell us where you grew up, unless you’re going to show pictures
  • Do tell us what moves you, what you care most about
  • Do tell us what you hope to get from taking this course, but only if you can do so in a limerick
  • Do tell us where you are
  • Do give us random facts we can come to know you by
  • Do click here and answer the first would you rather question that catches your eye

To share a video in Discord, upload to YouTube (or any other site where videos live) and share with a link. Or click the little + to the left of the message box in Discord, select a video file you created, and add a title or hello in the message.

3) Watch some of the videos of your peers, respond, add reaction emojis, etc. There are two sections of this class. For in-person sessions, you'll come at the time your section is scheduled. However, both sections will work together in our Discord server.

4) You'll need a space online to share your work for this course. A couple options: (a) Use your own personal site or blog, if you have one; (b) Sign up for a free account on Medium; (c) Prepare to publish anywhere else (Google Drive, WordPress, Tumblr, etc.), as long as you can post regularly and share your work with the class via hyperlinks. Feel free to leave your full name off of your site (or use a psuedonym).

5) Look ahead to the work for next week and get started.

Week 2: Jan. 8 - 14

Tuesday, January 10: Watch Get Out (2017) (together in class)
12pm (sec. 26): Meet in AAC 284
4pm (sec. 66): Meet in Sturm 234

Thursday, January 12: Discuss Get Out and Invisible Man
12pm (sec. 26): Meet in AAC 284
4pm (sec. 66): Meet in Sturm 234

First, read:
"Excerpt from Get Out: The Complete Annotated Screenplay" (spoiler alert)

Then, do some stuff:
1) Write a short essay (of 500–1500 words) analyzing a single frame from The Invisible Man or Get Out. I recommend pausing on the frame and writing with it on screen. Include a still of the frame in your post. (As an alternative, you could consider a single cut, the juxtaposition of two frames next to one another in the film.)

Consider framing, lighting, camera angle or technique, props, performance, setting, sound, dialogue, symbolism, etc.  Start with basic elements of the frame: what's on the right, what's on the left, what's large in the frame, what's small? Is this a closed frame or an open frame (is the image self-contained, or does it point to a world beyond its edges)? What meaning can you draw from the shot or scene?  Why is it so important to the film?  How do specific elements of the shot/frame support or complicate your answers to these questions?

There is no right way to do this work. The key is to keep looking and keep writing about what you notice. This isn't a formal essay, so you don't need a thesis, but you might end up with one. At this point, you're dumping the LEGO pieces out, sifting through them, and seeing how they fit together, but not necessarily building anything yet.

2) Publish your post wherever you will be doing the work for this course (a blog, Medium, Google Drive, somewhere else). Tag your post with #writinghorror. Share a link to your work in the #our-work channel on discord. Make sure your work is viewable by anyone with the link.

3) Find posts by a few of your peers and add comments. Respond to comments.

Week 3: Jan. 15 - 21

Tuesday, January 17: Watch Barbarian (2022) (together in class)
12pm (sec. 26): Meet in AAC 284
4pm (sec. 66): Meet in Sturm 234

Thursday, January 19: Why Horror? Discuss Barbarian
12pm (sec. 26): Meet in AAC 284
4pm (sec. 66): Meet in Sturm 234

Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics: "Chapter 3"
Noel Carroll, "The Nature of Horror"

Then, do some stuff:
We'll be working on creative non-fiction pieces over the next few weeks. Skip to next week for more details on the creative non-fiction essay. Start by trying to write a first sentence.

Week 4: Jan. 22 - 28

Tuesday, January 24: Discuss Barbarian and Noel Carroll's "The Nature of Horror".
12pm (sec. 26): Meet in AAC 284
4pm (sec. 66): Meet in Sturm 234

Thursday, January 26: Watch Halloween (1978) (together in class)
12pm (sec. 26): Meet in AAC 284
4pm (sec. 66): Meet in Sturm 234

First, watch:
John Carpenter, Halloween (1978)

Then, do some stuff:
1. Write a 6-word horror story. Here's the gist. Share your story in the #six-word-stories channel on Discord.

2. (Optional): "Pity Poor Flesh: Terrible Bodies in the Films of Carpenter, Cronenberg, and Romero." This piece has some of my own thoughts on Halloween, but also about the horror genre more broadly. Feel free to read if you're curious.

3. Work on your creative non-fiction essay. The finished essay should be around 750 - 1500 words. (I leave the word count range really broad on purpose, because I want you to find your own way into this work. This is a guide only – I certainly don't want you to add words just to meet a word count.)

According to creativenonfiction.org, the creative non-fiction genre is "true stories, well told." There's lots more to read there. One of the things that distinguishes creative non-fiction from other sorts of narrative writing is that you're not only telling a story but also reflecting upon it in some significant way. Your story can be about you, or about someone else. It can be about factual truths, emotional truths, historical truths, personal truths, etc. How you get at those "truths" is up to you. You can use just prose, a mixture of prose and images, a branching choose your own adventure style narrative, or whatever else feels right. At the point that you begin playing with form, word count may become irrelevant.

And, one more thing: since this is a horror class, whatever you do, make it scary.

Week 5: Jan. 29 - Feb. 4

Tuesday, January 31: Online Asynchronous. Watch Alien (1979) on your own and work on your creative non-fiction essay.

Thursday, February 2: Discuss Halloween and Alien. Bring the first sentence of your creative non-fiction essay to class to discuss.
12pm (sec. 26): Meet in AAC 284
4pm (sec. 66): Meet in Sturm 234

First, watch:
Ridley Scott, Alien (1979) (Amazon, YouTube)

Then, do some stuff:
1. Write a first sentence for your creative non-fiction essay. You can write more than one sentence, if you end up on a roll. But bring at least a single sentence, one you imagine as a possible first sentence, with you to class on February 2.

2. The finished creative non-fiction essay is due by Thursday, February 9. Share it in the #our-work channel on Discord. That's always where you'll share finished drafts of the assignments for the course.

Week 6: Feb. 5 - 11

Tuesday, February 7: Bring a rough draft of your creative non-fiction essay to class
Thursday, February 9: Submit your finished draft of the creative non-fiction essay to the #our-work channel on Discord.

Take time to think about and work on your midterm self-reflection. But there’s some recommended reading that might help as you think about how to evaluate your work for the course.

First, submit your Creative Non-fiction essay to the #our-work channel. and respond to the work of several of your peers.

Then, write your self-reflection (before the end of the week):
Click this link to write a self-reflection by the end of the week. Read some or all of this stuff, as you think about your self-reflection: Nancy Chick's “Metacognition”, Alfie Kohn's “The Case Against Grades”, and/or Audrey Watters's “The Web We Need to Give Students”.

Week 7: Feb. 12 - 18

Tuesday, February 14: TBA
Thursday, February 16: TBA

Play and read:
Kevin Wong, “The Most Depressing Theories On What Limbo Means” (lots of spoilers, so you may want to play the whole game first)

Looking forward:
Here are some details about the final project for this course, which you'll be working on for the next several weeks. At this point, just start thinking about what ideas and questions you have.

Illustrated Argumentative Essay. This project will be the culmination of everything you've done in class thus far. The goal of this project is to investigate one of the important subjects of this course. You will start by choosing a specific issues or topic that has arisen for you during the semester. You are welcome to incorporate literary analysis and personal anecdotes into this piece, but you are invited to move beyond that by incorporating research about your subject as well.  Both your written and visual elements will clearly support and contribute to an argument, whatever that might be.

The visual component can take any of a number of forms, including but not limited to graphic art, video, photography, interactive narrative, a web page, etc. The other component of the final project will be an argumentative paper.  The length of this paper depends, to some degree, on the nature of your visual work. You are encouraged to think outside the box in how you approach this paper, and feel free to weave your written and visual components together

You can develop your final project from one of the other papers or responses you complete during the term, broadening its scope or reinventing it in some way.  You may also collaborate on this project.

Week 8: Feb. 19 - 25

Tuesday, February 21: TBA
Thursday, February 23: TBA

Play and read:
Ten Candles from Cavalry Games
Four entries from Writing Commons: "Rhetorical Situation," "Ethos," "Pathos," "Logos"
Joseph Williams, Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace: "Understanding Style" and "Correctness"

Do some stuff:
1. Choose one of the three readings below and write a brief response, analyzing how the piece uses ethos, pathos, and logos to make its argument. Also, find a single sentence (or two) where the piece breaks and/or invents grammatical rules to rhetorical effect.

Audre Lorde, "The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action"
Henry David Thoreau, "Where I Lived and What I Lived For"
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own: “Shakespeare’s Sister”
Pierre Bayard, "How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read"
George Romero, Night of the Living Dead (1968)

2. Write down some ideas for your illustrated argumentative essay, which you'll complete by the end of week 10. Bring those to class or share them in the #our-work channel in Discord.

Week 9: Feb. 26 - Mar. 3

Tuesday, February 28: TBA
Thursday, March 2: TBA

First, watch:
These are some horror films that I particularly recommend. Choose one of these and watch at some point this week.

Candyman (2021), The Invitation (2015), The Thing (1982), Donnie Darko (2001), Night of the Living Dead (1968), Halloween (2018), A Quiet Place (2018), The Birds (1963), Monsters (2010), The Shining (1980), The Beach House (2019), Hereditary (2018), Us (2019), Annihilation (2018), 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016), Shaun of the Dead (2004), Scream (1996), King Kong (1933), Psycho (1960)

Then, keep working on your illustrated argumentative essay

Week 10: Mar. 5 - 11

Tuesday, March  7: TBA
Thursday, March 9: TBA

We'll review and discuss drafts of your illustrated argumentative essay in class this week. (By this point, you should be as close to finished as possible, but drafts might look like text, images, video, a sketch, or some other work-in-progress.)

Finish and share your illustrated argumentative essay by the end of the week in the #our-work channel.

Week 11: Mar. 12 - 17

We will not meet in person this week. Instead, you'll work on and submit your portfolio and final self-reflection.

Two things to do by Friday this week:
1. The Writing Program asks all students in WRIT 1122 to complete a brief portfolio. Click here for the full instructions. The gist: Cut and paste into a single file (DOCX, RTF, or PDF) two samples from the work you did for WRIT 1122. (No need to revise further.) These can be major or minor assignments, whatever you think represents you best as a writer. Then, write a short introduction that describes your work and how it uses rhetorical strategies to meet your goals. You can use links in the document at will to multimedia components. The instructions ask you to e-mail me your single file, but I'd prefer you send it to me via a DM in Discord.

2. Before Friday, complete your final self-reflection by clicking here.