A class of Ball State University students is seeing ghosts all over the place — from timeless episodes of the cartoon “Scooby Doo” to Shirley Jackson's novel “The Haunting of Hill House” — as they create a journal dedicated to ghouls in American culture.
Carrisma Jackson, an English major from Greenfield, Indiana, discusses a ghost story with Debbie Mix, an English professor. In effort to create a literary journal, students are working to educate themselves about the scholarship on haunting and examining why ghosts and spooky stories play a major role in American culture.
Led by Debbie Mix, an English professor, students are working to educate themselves about the scholarship on haunting and examining why ghosts and spooky stories play a major role in American culture.
So far this semester, they’ve immersed themselves in reading a variety of theoretical pieces alongside novels, including Shirley Jackson's “The Haunting of Hill House,” which has been adapted as a series on Netflix; Toni Morrison’s novel “Beloved,” and Tony Kushner’s play “Angels in America,” along with eating popcorn as they view a smattering of television shows and good (and bad) movies.
And on the occasional night with a full moon, the students are visiting haunted houses and grave yards to add a hint of fear to the next edition of English department's “Digital Literature Review.”
“Throughout the centuries our literature has been filled with ghosts,” Mix said. “After doing intense research, our students found all sorts of reasons for this. In ‘Scooby Doo,’ it’s a convenient plot hooking: the teens investigate a haunting and then unmask an adult who was trying to get away with something illegal. So, ghosts can be explained in rational ways.”
Mix also pointed out that ghosts are powerful ways to allow writers to create stories that allow the characters to work out issues or talk about their own fears.
“As we read a book or watch a movie, we get the pleasure of being scared and then able to put the novel down or walk out of the theater,” she said. “In the end, we know that ghosts are only real in our minds, on the screen, or on pages of a book.”
For more information about Ball State’s Department of English, visit our Department of English's website.