Exploration of the Fascination with Horror in ENGL 103 A10


Horror is a genre that has captivated and terrified audiences for centuries. From Gothic novels to contemporary horror films, the genre has continually evolved and adapted to reflect the fears and anxieties of society at different points in history. In ENGL 103 A10, we delve into the question: “Why Horror?”. This course offers students the opportunity to explore the multifaceted appeal of horror, examining its psychological, cultural, and artistic dimensions. We will explore the reasons behind the enduring fascination with horror, delving into its psychological appeal, its cultural significance, and its artistic expression.

I. The Psychological Appeal of Horror

1.1 Catharsis and Emotional Release

One of the most fundamental reasons behind the fascination with horror is the catharsis it provides. Horror allows individuals to confront their deepest fears in a controlled environment, offering a sense of emotional release. As we watch or read a horror story, our bodies react to the suspense and fear, releasing adrenaline and endorphins. This emotional rollercoaster can be both terrifying and pleasurable, giving rise to the idea that humans enjoy the thrill of being scared in a safe setting.

1.2 The Thrill of the Unknown

Horror plays on our fear of the unknown, which is a primal instinct deeply rooted in our evolutionary history. We are drawn to mysteries and the unexplained, and horror stories tap into this curiosity. The anticipation of what might happen next, contribute to the addictive nature of horror narratives. In ENGL 103 A10, students explore how horror exploits this fundamental human trait and how it keeps us coming back for more.

1.3 The Morbid Fascination

Horror also appeals to the morbid curiosity that resides in most of us. We are drawn to the macabre, the grotesque, and the horrifying aspects of life. Whether it’s the fascination with serial killers, horror provides a space to explore these dark fascinations in a controlled and safe manner. It allows us to confront the darker aspects of human existence without experiencing them directly.

II. The Cultural Significance of Horror

2.1 Reflection of Society’s Anxieties

One of the most compelling aspects of horror is its ability to reflect and comment on society’s anxieties and concerns. Throughout history, horror has served as a mirror to the fears and preoccupations of a given era. In ENGL 103 A10, students analyze how horror literature and films often address issuesuch as social inequality. For example, Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” can be seen as a reflection of the anxieties surrounding scientific advancements in the 19th century.

2.2 Coping with Real-life Horrors

Horror can also help individuals cope with real-life horrors. Many people turn to horror as a way to confront and process the traumas and fears they experience. By experiencing fictional horrors, individuals can find a sense of catharsis and control over their own anxieties. In ENGL 103 A10, students may explore how this therapeutic aspect of horror has been use to help individuals deal with post-traumatic stress.

2.3 Cultural Taboos and Social Commentary

Horror often delves into the realm of cultural taboos, addressing topics that are consider too uncomfortable. These narratives can serve as a powerful form of social commentary. The course might delve into how films like Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” use the horror genre to explore racial issues.

III. The Artistic Expression of Horror

3.1 Subverting Expectations

The horror genre is not limit to jump scares and gore; it is a rich and versatile form of artistic expression. In ENGL 103 A10, students can explore how horror authors and filmmakers often subvert audience expectations. They challenge traditional narratives, explore unconventional structures, and use symbolism and allegory to convey deeper meanings. For instance, films like “The Babadook” and “Hereditary” offer audiences a psychological horror experience that challenges conventional horror tropes.

3.2 The Role of Atmosphere

Horror relies heavily on creating a compelling atmosphere to engage the audience. Whether it’s the eerie setting of a haunted house or the tension-building score. Students can examine how filmmakers and writers use the setting, lighting, sound, and cinematography to craft a haunting atmosphere that enhances the overall experience.

3.3 The Evolution of Horror

As technology and society evolve, so does the horror genre. In ENGL 103 A10, students can explore how contemporary horror adapts to the cultural and technological landscape. From found footage films like “Paranormal Activity” to the impact of virtual reality on horror gaming, the course can delve into how horror continually reinvents itself to stay relevant and unsettling.


In ENGL 103 A10, the question “Why Horror?” is not only a philosophical inquiry but a multi-faceted exploration of human psychology, culture, and art. This genre, which has stood the test of time, offers a captivating journey into the human psyche, a reflection of society’s deepest fears, and an ever-evolving canvas for artistic expression. By understanding the psychological, cultural, and artistic aspects of horror, students in this course gain insights into the enduring appeal of this captivating genre. Horror, it seems, is not just about the thrill of fear; it is a lens through which we can better understand ourselves and the world we inhabit.

We use cookies to give you the best experience. Cookie Policy

× How can I help you?