ENGL 6500-7500-01 (Call #s: 02418, 02419)

The Grotesque
Session IV, Summer 2004
Time: 1010 a.m.-1230 p.m. Place: PH 301

Any student with a disability will be given all the rights and privileges guaranteed under the Americans with Disabilities Act if he/she is registered with Disabled Student Services (call/contact John Harris, KUC 120/2783).

PDF Copy of Syllabus (Acrobat Reader Required) | Texts | Course Requirements | Agenda | Grotesque: The WWW Site | The Grotesque on the Web | Major Artists and Theorists of the Grotesque | A Grotesque Bibliography | OED Definition of "Grotesque" (in .pdf) | Class Roster

Dr. David Lavery, Professor, English Department
Office: PH 100C | Phone/Voice-Mail: 898-5648 | Office Hours: by arrangement
E-mail: dlavery@mtsu.edu  or doctorlavery@hotmail.com

David Lavery is professor of English at Middle Tennessee State University, where he teaches courses on American literature, science fiction, modern poetry, popular culture, and film. He is the author of over eighty published essays and reviews and author/editor/co-editor of six books: Late for the Sky: The Mentality of the Space Age (1992), Full of Secrets: Critical Approaches to Twin Peaks (1994), ‘Deny All Knowledge’: Reading The X-Files (1996), Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2002), Teleparody: Predicting/Preventing the TV Discourse of Tomorrow (2002), and This Thing of Ours: Investigating The Sopranos (2002). He is also co-editor of in-development books on Seinfeld, My So Called Life, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Northern Exposure, and Fake News, co-edits the e-journal Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies, and was the organizer of a major international conference on Buffy held in Nashville in May 2004. Last summer he was a keynote speaker at the Sonic Synergies and Creative Cultures and Staking a Claim: Exploring the Global Reach of Buffy conferences at the University of South Australia in Adelaide. In April he was the keynote speaker at the Contemporary American Quality Television International Conference at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. To learn more about him, visit his home page at http://davidlavery.net/.


Any other edition

of GT will do.

You will receive a CD on the first day of class containing over 50 MB of texts, paintings, and other resources for the course.

Available online.


Essay. You owe me one critical/theoretical essay (at least 2,500 words) on a subject of your choice, approved by me. You may write on the grotesque in any form--painting, film, popular culture, as well as, of course, literature--or on any practitioner of the grotesque. I do not assume that these will be traditional "research" papers (though research papers--making extensive use of secondary sources--will certainly be acceptable). I would much prefer a "search" paper--one that makes extensive use of your eyes, ears, and minds as they encounter primary sources. I will accept these papers at any time prior to or on the "drop dead" date indicated on the agenda. Course Weight: 30% of grade

Grotesque Website Project. It is, of course,  traditional in graduate courses like this to require a large source paper of some kind. This summer we will follow a different course. I have created a website on the grotesque, which, with your help, I want to make much, much better.

The heart of the website is the Major Artists and Theorists section, but I have not found the time or energy to update these pages in years. So I seek your help. By the end of our course, I expect you to do a major revision of at least three pages. I will not expect you to complete an HTML version of your project on your own, though you may create a web-ready version if you know how. I will be happy to help you learn how to create your own website, or we can collaborate. I am willing, by arrangement, to meet with you before or after class to teach you the fundamentals of webpage construction. (Go here to see the MTSU page on web authoring.) All pages are up for grabs. If you want to propose other subjects not yet included, please do so.

After reviewing the list please give me your top five choices ASAP, and I will then make assignments. I don't want to spell out precisely what each page should contain, but each should probably include at least

A. An overview of the subject of the page.

B. Web links (annotated).

C. Relevant images/graphics. An excellent way to find these is through:


D. A bibliography.

You will, of course, be fully credited as the author of the page once it is complete. To see a model page (on Nathanael West), go here. Course Weight: 15% each (45% total)

Class Participation. This part of your grade will be based on two factors: (1) the quality of your in-class discussion; (2) leading discussion of a major artist or theorist of the grotesque. Please sign-up ASAP for your assignment (you may, of course, ask to be assigned an artist or theorist already assigned as one of your website projects). (3) Leading discussion of one of the related terms (sign up ASAP). Course Weight: 25%



Mtng. Date Subject: Reading | Course Requirement Related Terms
1 7/12 Introduction to the Course: Thomson (Introduction), Anderson, Canfield, Kayser  
2 7/13 Theorizing the Grotesque (I): Thomson (Chapters Two, Three), Yates, "An Introduction to the Grotesque: Theoretical and Theological Considerations" (available in .pdf format on your CD [Acrobat Reader required]).  
3 7/14 Theorizing the Grotesque (II): Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World (Introduction, Chapters Four, Five, and Six), Thomson (Chapters Four, Five) The Comic (Renneisen)
4 7/15 The Grotesque in Painting (I): Hieronymous Bosch, Pieter Brueghel, Giuseppe Arcimboldo Irony (Haynes)
5 7/19 The Grotesque in Painting (II): Honore Daumier, William Hogarth [Haynes], Francisco Goya, James Ensor Satire & Parody (Barker)
6 7/20 The Grotesque in Painting (III): George Grosz, Otto Dix, Salvador Dali, and Ren Magritte The Surreal (Robinson)
7 7/21 The Grotesque in Painting (IV): Frieda Kahlo (Robinson), Francis Bacon, and Ralph Steadman  
8 7/22 The Grotesque in Film and Television (I): Federico Fellini  
9 7/26 The Grotesque in Literature (I): Jonathan Swift [Reneissen] (Gulliver's Travels, "A Modest Proposal"), Mark Twain ("1601," "Little Bessie Would Assist Providence"), and Franz Kafka [Bartel] ("A Country Doctor," "A Hunger Artist")  
10 7/27 The Grotesque in Literature (II): Nathanael West (both Miss Lonelyhearts and Day of the Locust) The Uncanny (Jones)
11 7/28 The Grotesque in Photography: Weegee, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Wisconsin Death Trip, Robert Mapplethorpe | Sontag Collections of Quotations about Photography (in .pdf) | Website 1 Due The Macabre (Boatwright)
12 7/29 The Grotesque in Film and Television (II): David Lynch The Fantastic (Burkhead)
13 8/2 The Grotesque in Literature (III): Flannery O'Connor [Sharp] ("A Good Man is Hard to Find," "The Artificial Nigger," "Good Country People," "Everything That Rises Must Converge," "Revelation," "Parker's Back"); Appalachian Literature and Culture [Barker]  
14 8/3 The Grotesque in Film and Television (III): David Cronenberg [Driver] The Bizarre (Bartel)
15 8/4 The Grotesque in Literature (IV): Amos Tutuola; Magic Realism [Morrissey] Magic Realism (Morrissey)
16 8/5 The Grotesque in Theatre: Aristophanes, Alfred Jarry, Samuel Beckett, Antonin Artaud, Grand Guignol, Eugene Ionesco, Theatre of the Absurd | Website 2 Due The Absurd (Sharp)
17 8/9 The Grotesque in Popular Culture (I): Cartooning/Performance: The Far Side, R. Crumb, StelarcPatti Smith, The Talking Heads, Urban Legends [Boatwright] Caricature (Taylor)
18 8/10 The Grotesque in Popular Culture (II):  Animation: Ren and Stimpy, Celebrity Death Match, South Park, The Simpsons, Beavis & Butthead, SRL, Rob Zombie (Taylor). Panic Encyclopedia Black Humor (Driver)
19 8/11 The Grotesque in Film and Television (IV): The Farrelly Brothers, The Coen Brothers, Tim Burton, Six Feet Under, Carnivale [Burkhead]  
20 8/12 Final Meeting | Website 3 Due | Essay Due