ENGH 414: Folklore and the Supernatural

ENGH 414-001: Folklore and the Supernatural
(Spring 2024)

04:30 PM to 07:10 PM T

Horizon Hall 3012

Section Information for Spring 2024

This course attempts to chart the uncanny—the inexplicable, the numinous, the spiritual—in our everyday lives. We’ll think about ghosts, spirits, hauntings, visions, communion with the dead, monsters, encounters with the divine, UFOs, dream interpretation, magic, and more, not with the object of proving or disproving their existence or veracity, but rather to understand people’s lived experiences and how individuals attempt to make sense of the uncanny around them. 

We’ll start by exploring the genealogy of the supernatural. It developed directly from scientific rationalist discourses that asserted the predominance of reason over irrational superstition. The result has been the stubborn persistence of the idea that belief in the supernatural should disappear with the advance of science. That hasn’t happened. Indeed, survey research suggests that belief in the supernatural persists among the majority of Americans. Over the course of the semester, we’ll try to understand why. We’ll interrogate the distinctions between belief/disbelief, discuss supernatural narrative genres, investigate the spaces/places where the supernatural erupts, and explore the relationships between the supernatural, technology, and popular culture. 


Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Examines the role of supernatural phenomena in individuals’ everyday lives. Introduces folkloristic approaches to the study of belief, paranormal experiences, and popular spirituality. Topics may include ghosts, spirit possession, superstitions, visions, near death experiences, dream interpretation, magic, the commodification of belief, and the supernatural and new media. Limited to three attempts.
Recommended Prerequisite: Satisfaction of University requirements in 100-level English and in Mason Core literature.
Schedule Type: Lecture
This course is graded on the Undergraduate Regular scale.

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