21M.013J / 21A.113J The Supernatural in Music, Literature and Culture

As taught in: Spring 2009

The devil looks over its shoulder.

A still from Murnau's film Faust. (Public domain, available at Internet Archive.)




Dr. Charles Shadle

Prof. Ellen Harris

Prof. James Howe

Course Description

This class explores the relationship between music and the supernatural, focusing on the social history and context of supernatural beliefs as reflected in key literary and musical works from 1600 to the present. Provides a better understanding of the place of ambiguity and the role of interpretation in culture, science and art. Explores great works of art by Shakespeare, Verdi, Goethe (in translation), Gounod, Henry James and Benjamin Britten. Readings will also include selections from the most recent scholarship on magic and the supernatural. Writing assignments will range from web-based projects to analytic essays. No previous experience in music is necessary. Projected guest lectures, musical performances, field trips.