Arts & Culture

Inside the house of screams

Justin Saglio/Harvard Staff

1 min read

For Halloween, students write a tale of a darkened room without exits

A door creaks. Shadowy figures appear. Do you greet them, or run away?

In a class called “Haunted: Writing the Supernatural” and taught by Laura van den Berg, Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in the Department of English, students put their imaginations to work creating tales of demons, monsters, and ghosts. As they craft their fiction, they learn how to use the supernatural to tell hard truths about the shadows in our own lives.

In the creative-writing workshop, students read fiction and nonfiction, including works by Edith Wharton, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Carmen Maria Machado, Parul Sehgal, and Alexander Chee, examining how the authors grapple with fear of the unknown, haunted memories, and the enduring role of the ghost story.

For Halloween, the students wrote a collaborative “exquisite corpse” story set in a haunted house on a rainy night, and gave a dramatic reading in the Harry Widener Memorial Room at Widener Library, under the portrait and the watchful eye of the room’s namesake.