National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Honors in Practice, Volume 8.


Copyright © 2012 National Collegiate Honors Council


Filling an honors basic studies class in Gothic literature and culture was not a difficult challenge. By design, this course attracted students ranging from freshmen to seniors and from a wide variety of majors that included English, psychology, business, education, and chemistry. The trick was creating an even intellectual playing field, establishing and sustaining a high level of discussion in which everyone participated daily, and making the course intellectually rigorous for each student in the class. At the same time, I wanted to give to these students from different disciplines a flexible analytical method they could master for understanding the genre, but also one that excited and empowered them to better understand the workings of their intellectual lives and of the culture beyond the halls of academia. Dreaming the Gothic—From Dracula to Lady Gaga was structured to meet those challenges and to have students apply what they learned in the course beyond the study of literature to their lives. At this budget-tightening moment in higher education, when colleges and universities are increasingly pressured to focus on professional, practical, and core-specific courses, honors programs especially need to teach flexible critical thinking skills, especially ones that make meta-connections among disparate disciplines.