Ursuline News

Mystery & The Morbid

Vampires, ghosts, and murderers…oh my!

There’s a new senior English class on the block and Jessica Bailey, Corby Baxter, and Kyle Lee are the three brave leaders guiding students through the creepy course.

Students participating are entranced by exploring core themes found in Gothic literature and many of the genres that evolved from its foundation.

To bring the class to life, Bailey tapped into her love for true crime podcasts, thriller/mystery fiction, and dark TV shows and movies. She also loves Halloween and wanted to design a class around the interests she had as a teen, and still as an adult.

“I think that there is something to be said about reading and engaging with literature that feels ‘taboo’ or not typically ‘academic,’” she said. “I hope this inspires the girls to be lifelong readers.”

A fan of mystery and the morbid as well, Baxter looks forward to fall and Halloween where he thinks these gothic stories live and really come to life. 

The book he’s most excited for? The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. He loves a good ghost story, and she tells them well. Eventually, students will write their own ghost stories modeled after “the challenge” that inspired Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein. 

When Lee first heard Bailey present the creation of the class, his eyes lit up. He said to himself, “this is a class I both want to teach and take.”

“Ursuline already does a great job of exploring literature outside of what you’d expect to find in an academic environment,” he said. “I’m excited that we get to take that further and demonstrate that there is value in genres typically downplayed as being commercial or niche.”

As the course description states, “by the end, students will gain an appreciation for the complex of dark fiction and what it reveals about the existential questions that plague humanity.”

His favorite book? I am Legend by Richard Matheson. He looks to Matheson as a wonderful example of an author who can write well in numerous genres. 

Bailey notes what really makes the class a success is the team that has worked and built on it.

“Collaborating with Mr. Lee and Dr. Baxter doesn’t even feel like work,” she said. “There is so much creativity paired with sound pedagogical practices, that I think this course will be remembered by our students well beyond graduation.”

Happy Spooky Season!