The Supernatural in Music, Literature and Culture

The devil looks over its shoulder.

A still from Murnau's film Faust. (Public domain, available at Internet Archive.)


MIT Course Number

21M.013J / 21A.113J

As Taught In

Spring 2009



Cite This Course

Course Description

This class explores the relationship between music and the supernatural, focusing on the social history and context of supernatural beliefs as reflected in key literary and musical works from 1600 to the present. Provides a better understanding of the place of ambiguity and the role of interpretation in culture, science and art. Explores great works of art by Shakespeare, Verdi, Goethe (in translation), Gounod, Henry James and Benjamin Britten. Readings will also include selections from the most recent scholarship on magic and the supernatural. Writing assignments will range from web-based projects to analytic essays. No previous experience in music is necessary. Projected guest lectures, musical performances, field trips.

Shadle, Charles, Ellen Harris, and James Howe. 21M.013J The Supernatural in Music, Literature and Culture, Spring 2009. (MIT OpenCourseWare: Massachusetts Institute of Technology), (Accessed). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

For more information about using these materials and the Creative Commons license, see our Terms of Use.