AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 6, Number2.  May  2022                                       Pp.2-25

“A National Literature of Irrationalism”: Horror and the Weird as Foundations for an American Literature Survey Course

English Department
American University of Iraq, Suleimani, Iraq


While recent pedagogical scholarship has examined how to teach horror and “weird fiction” in the American Literature classroom, there has been no study of the possibility of organizing an entire American Literature survey course around such texts. I elaborate on my own experience teaching such a survey course, which used texts in the American “weird” tradition to examine the whole US literary tradition in terms of the nation’s originary conflict between the forces of reason and unreason. I pay particular attention to the first two weeks of the course, in which we set up this framework through readings of Langston Hughes, The Declaration of Independence, Jonathan Edwards, Michael Wigglesworth, and Phillis Wheatley. I discuss pedagogical considerations underlying the course design, and ways that readers might adapt the course’s principles beyond its immediate context.

Cite as:

Chetwynd, A. (2022). “A National Literature of Irrationalism”: Horror and the Weird as Foundations for an American Literature Survey Course. Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies 6 (2)2-25.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24093/awejtls/vol6no2.1


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Ali Chetwynd is Assistant Professor and Chair of the English Department at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. He co-edited Thomas Pynchon, Sex, and Gender (University of Georgia Press, 2018), and has published on Pynchon, William Gaddis, Ben Jonson, and the rhetoric of non-realist fiction in a variety of journals and collections.
ORCID https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9163-4097