Course Details

The Nightmare of Reason/Logic of Madness in Poe

Course #: EDUC_714W

Semester Credits: 3
Cost: $375.00

This course examines selected short stories from Edgar Allan Poe's oeuvre, as well as his novella, The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym of Nantucket. We will focus on Poe's themes of madness masquerading as reason and reason masquerading as madness, suggestive omissions or gaps in narratives, the dispassionate reason employed in the stories of mystery, the genre Poe virtually created, and the sense of mad horror exploding the narratives of well-mannered, erudite voices of precise reason. The course will also explore the horror of human selfishness, survival needs and a natural world becoming increasingly hellish, this horror and mystery encroaching upon a novella that deceptively resembles a travel narrative set upon the sea, The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym of Nantucket. Students will also be encouraged to find common images and tropes in Poe's work and to analyze his different styles of writing. The course will offer students the opportunity to explore creative possibilities for how to teach Poe's fiction in the classroom. We will consider how Poe's delineation of an all too fine line between madness and sound reasoning resonates with the American culture that followed him.


a. Show an understanding of the ways in which language, story, character, imagery, reason, tone and themes function in Poe's selected short fiction and in his novella.
c. Analyze the interplay and conflation between reason and madness in Poe's work.
d. Analyze the relationship between horror, mystery and the travel narrative, including narrative gaps or ellipsis in Poe's work, both as genres and as multilayered effects and pressures on the characters.
e. Imagine creative ways of teaching Poe's short stories to students.
f. Analyze the roles of death, confinement, jealousy and male friendship in Poe's work.
g. Consider Poe's historical legacy and his work's influence upon American culture.
h. Consider how Poe's fiction could be translated into theater or film.

This course is applicable towards the following certificate(s):
*Literature for the Classroom

Visit our Certificates page for more information.

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Semester Credits: 3
Cost: $375.00

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