Smolny Beyond Borders

A Liberal Arts Initiative

Thriller Aesthetics



Course Schedule:

F23 | Sep19 Oct 20 | Tue Thu 4:10 5:30 PM  Berlin (UTC + 2)

Professor: Dmitry Bykov
Semester: Fall 2023
Subject: LIT
Course Level:
Number of Bard Credits: 1
Course Title: Thriller Aesthetics
Max Enrollment: 22
Schedule: 5 weeks (September 19 – October 20), Tue Thu 4:10 – 5:30 PM Berlin (UTC + 2)
Distribution Area: no
Cross-Listing(s): no
Language of Instruction: Russian

The popularity of thrillers have always hinged upon the subconscious readers’ and viewers’ choice of most talented authors. Talent is not essential for one’s making a reader laugh or cry, but in order to scare the audience, authors need to understand the foundations of psyche and literature, and of life in general. What does the notion of the Gothic entail? What are the main thriller devices? Why does the violation of logical connections and psychological laws frighten the reader? Where do the roots of our interest to pathology lie? What role does rhythm play in inciting horror? And how do the concepts of thriller, horror, and suspense relate to one another? How does the composition of thrillers draw the actual horror into the writer’s own life and how does it protect you from the uncanny? What role does the poetic and the mysterious play in the Gothic art, and why does Romantic art in particular poeticizes fear most often? There are no definitive answers to all these questions, and yet, the theme of thriller aesthetics remains one of the most appealing in literary studies and creative writing. This course will help you overcome your personal fears by transforming them into literary texts. It will also help you foresee those cinematic moments when the entire audience shakes with fear and begins to scream.