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My Honors College

Course Description

Interdisciplinary Proseminar

Fall 2020 Courses

HNRS: Monstrous Mothers, Diabolical Daughters, and Femme Fatales: Gender and Monstrosity in Horror Films

SCHC 485 H01 20890

Course Attributes:
Humanities, BeyondClRoom, AIU

Julia Elliott

WEB COLUMBIA on TR @ 01:15 pm - 02:30 pm


Seat Capacity:


Objectives: Since the 1960s, horror films have popularized provocative images of the monstrous-feminine that often present female sexuality and reproductive biology as grotesque, excessive, and/or dangerous. Unsurprisingly, many iconic cinematic female monsters are creations of male writers and directors. Presenting female sexuality as threatening to patriarchal order, films like Cronenberg’s The Brood and Friedkin’s The Exorcist voice fears of second-wave feminism and female sexual empowerment. Even after the third feminist wave, male directors have controlled the cinematic discourse on female monstrosity and victimization. In the wake of fourth-wave feminism, however, women directors have revolutionized the horror genre by presenting more complex depictions of both the monstrous-feminine and female horror heroines. Feminist body horror, subversive monstrosity, and more nuanced explorations of female sexuality and motherhood have emerged to shake up the status quo. This proseminar will revisit classic male-gaze depictions of the monstrous feminine, explore progressive male-directed images of female monstrosity, and showcase the diversity and richness of recent horror films by women directors like Jennifer Kent (The Babadook, 2014), Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, 2014), Stewart Thorndike (Lyle, 2014), and Claire Denis (High Life, 2019).   Throughout the semester we will use feminist criticism and film theory to analyze images of female monsters, decoding the ideological subtexts embedded in both sexist and revolutionary depictions of the monstrous-feminine.  Service Learning: I am collaborating with the Honors College and the Women’s and Gender Studies program at USC to bring a feminist horror series to UofSC students this October. Our class will divide into three groups, each of which will focus on one of three films. You will work with the Honors College to promote the series and generate content for the course’s website, Facebook, blog, and screening introductions. To fulfill the service-learning component of the class, each person will spend twenty or more service hours outside the classroom promoting your film on and off campus.  

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.