Calendar and Readings

Required Texts

[BE] = Buy at Amazon Ellis, Bret Easton. American Psycho. Vintage, 1991. ISBN: 978067973577.

[CP] = Buy at Amazon Palahniuk, Chuck. Fight Club: A Novel. W. W. Norton & Company, 1996. ISBN: 9780393039764.

[DC] = Buy at Amazon Cooper, Dennis. Frisk. Grove Weidenfeld, 1991.

[SS] = Buy at Amazon Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Pain of Others. Picador, 2004. ISBN: 9780312422196. [Preview with Google Books]


A Brief History of Violence

Syllabus & Introduction

Violence - Terms, Concepts, and Etymology (PDF)

How to Watch a Film (PDF)

Arizona→ Boston (+ Rolling Stone)

Ultraviolence and the Squib: Bonnie and Clyde

Violence as critique: Salò

Sanctioned Violence: the War Film

On Style and Metaphor

Lecture Notes for Session 1 - A Brief History of Violence (PDF)


America the Violent

Guide to Scholarly Writing (PDF)

Paper One Topics (PDF)

Lecture Notes for Session 2 - America the Violent (PDF)

Fargo. Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Color, 98 min. 1996.

American History X. Directed by Tony Kaye. Black and White, and Color, 119 min. 1998.

Buy at Amazon Slotkin, Richard. "Myth and Literature in a New World." In Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600–1860. Wesleyan, 1973. ISBN: 9780819560346. [Preview with Google Books]

Buy at Amazon Benjamin, Walter. "Critique of Violence." In Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings. Edited by Peter Demetz. Translated by Edmund Jephcott. Schocken, 1986. ISBN: 9780805208023.


Serial Killers I: Repetition & Commodities

Lecture Notes for Session 3 - Serial Killers I – Repetition & Commodities (PDF)

[BE] pp. 1–226.

Buy at Amazon Tanner, Laura E. "American Psycho and the American Psyche." In Intimate Violence: Reading Rape and Torture in Twentieth-Century Fiction. Indiana University Press, 1994. ISBN: 9780253356482. [Preview with Google Books]

Buy at Amazon Newitz, Annalee. "Serial Killers: Murder Can be Work." In Pretend We're Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop Culture. Duke University Press Books, 2006. ISBN: 9780822337454. [Preview with Google Books]


Serial Killers II: Boredom & Blankness

Lecture Notes for Session 4 -Serial Killers II – Boredom & Blankness (PDF)

American Psycho. Directed by Mary Harron. Color, 102 min. 2000.

[BE] pp. 266-end.

Young, Barbara. "The Beast in the Jungle: Henry James 1843–1916." International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies 5, no. 4 (2008): 225–37.

Optional / Supplemental

Manson, Charles. "I'm Nobody." June 7, 2008. Youtube. Interview quotation. 1989.
Interview with Charles Manson; consider in relation to Bateman's reiterations that he does not exist.

Padgett, Kelsey, and Brenna Farrell. "Lethal Weapons." Radiolab Blogland, August 1, 2013.

American Psycho 2000 Emails. Archived ephemera.
Series of emails from Bateman to his psychiatrist (not written by Ellis but approved by him), send to subscriber's to Harron's film's official site in the months leading up to the film (i.e. the marketing for the film as a commodity-object to be desired, purchased and consumed)...

Singer, Jesse. "American Psycho by Jesse Singer." 2013.
Fundraising page for American Psycho, the Musical


Serial Killers III: Portraits & Signs

Paper One Due

Lecture Notes for Session 5 - Serial Killers III – Portraits & Signs (PDF)

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Directed by John McNaughton. Color, 83 min. 1986.

Se7en. Directed by David Fincher. Color, 127 min. 1995.

Buy at Amazon Seltzer, Mark. "The Serial Killer as a Type of Person." In Serial Killers: Death and Life in America's Wound Culture. Routledge, 1998. ISBN: 9780415914819. [Preview with Google Books]

Buy at Amazon Freeland, Cynthia A. "Realist Horror." In Philosophy and Film. Edited by Cynthia A. Freeland, and Thomas E. Wartenberg. Routledge, 1995. ISBN: 9780415909211.

Optional / Supplemental

Buy at Amazon Brottman, Mikita. "Neo-Mondo – Recarnivalizing the Taboo." In Offensive Films: Towards an Anthropology of Cinema Vomitif. Praeger, 1997. ISBN: 9780313300332.


White Masculinity at the End of the Century

Paper Two Topics (PDF)

Lecture Notes for Session 6 - White Masculinity at the End of the Century (PDF)

Fight Club. Directed by David Fincher. Color, 139 min. 1999.



The Underclass & The Marginalized

Lecture Notes for Session 7 - The Underclass and the Marginalized (PDF)

La Haine. Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz. Black and White, 98 min. 1995.

Seul contre tous. Directed by Gaspar Noé. Color, 93 min. 1998.


Girls, Women, & Psychic Assault

Lecture Notes for Session 8 - Girls, Women, & Psychic Assault (PDF)

Ôdishon. Directed by Takashi Miike. Color, 115 min. 1999.

À ma soeur. Directed by Catherine Breillat. Color, 86 min. 2001.

Buy at Amazon de Lauretis, Teresa. "The Violence of Rhetoric." In Technologies of Gender: Essays on Theory, Film, and Fiction. Indiana University Press, 1987. ISBN: 9780253204417. [Preview with Google Books]


Sex, Desire, & Fragmentation

Paper Two Due

Lecture Notes for Session 9 - Sex, Desire, & Fragmentation (PDF)


Buy at Amazon Young, Elizabeth. "Death in Disneyland." In Shopping in Space: Essays on America's Blank Generation Fiction. Grove Press, 1994. ISBN: 9780802133946.


Television, Reality, Culpability

Final Paper Topics (PDF)

Lecture Notes for Session 10 - Television, Reality, Culpability (PDF)

C’est arrivé près de chez vous. Directed by Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel, and Benoît Poelvoorde. Black and White, 95 min. 1992.

Natural Born Killers. Directed by Oliver Stone. Black and White, and Color, 118 min. 1994.

Buy at Amazon Bazin, André. This resource may not render correctly in a screen reader."Death Every Afternoon." (PDF) In Rites of Realism. Edited by Ivone Margulies. Duke University Press Books, 2003. ISBN: 9780822330660. [Preview with Google Books]


Postmodern Graphic: Gore, Humor, Cartoons

Lecture Notes for Session 11 - Postmodern Graphic - Gore, Humor, Cartoons (PDF)

Reservoir Dogs. Directed by Quentin Tarantino. Color, 99 min. 1992.

Oldeuboi. Direct by Chan-wook Park. Color, 120 min. 2003.

Optional / Supplemental

Hawkins, Joan. "Culture Wars: Some New Trends in Art Horror." Jump Cut, no. 51 (2009).

Hopper, Dennis, and Quentin Tarantino. "Blood Lust Snicker Snicker in Wide Screen." Grand Street 13, no. 1 (1994): 10–22.
Dennis Hopper's wide-ranging interview with Quentin Tarantino during the editing of "Pulp Fiction" in which Tarantino discusses, among many other films and topics, "Man Bites Dog."

McKinney, Devin. "Violence: The Strong and the Weak." Film Quarterly 46, no. 4 (1993): 16–22.
This is a quick read and very useful conceptual distinction between "strong" violence and "weak" violence.


Regarding The Pain of Others

Lecture Notes for Session 12 - Regarding the Pain of Others (PDF)

Funny Games. Directed by Michael Haneke. Color, 108 min. 1997.

Buy at Amazon Scarry, Elaine. "Introduction." In The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World. Oxford University Press, 1987. ISBN: 9780195049961. [Preview with Google Books]


Optional / Supplemental

Buy at Amazon Brinkema, Eugenie. "'Not to Scream Before or About, but to Scream at Death': Haneke's Horrible Funny Games." In Caligari's Heirs: the German Cinema of Fear after 1945. Edited by Steffen Hantke. Scarecrow Press, 2006. ISBN: 9780810858787.

Buy at Amazon ———. "Grief and the Undialectical Image." In The Forms of the Affects. Duke University Press Books, 2014. ISBN: 9780822356561.


Is It The Case That We Are What We Watch?

Final Paper Due

Lecture Notes for Session 13 - Is it the Case that We Are What We Watch (PDF)

Benny's Video. Directed by Michael Haneke. Color, 105 min. 1992.

Tesis. Directed by Alejandro Amenábar. Color, 125 min. 1996.

Optional / Supplemental

Buy at Amazon Brinkema, Eugenie. "How to Do Things with Violences." In A Companion to Michael Haneke. Edited by Roy Grandmann. Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. ISBN: 9781405188005. [Preview with Google Books]