Posted in Advanced C1, Exam Preparation Class, Guest Posts, Listening Classes, Reading Classes

C1: Halloween Special – Spoopy Season

This is a guest post by Soleil García Brito just in time for Halloween. This lesson plan is for C1 students. They will discover the spooky origins of the jack-o-lantern and then learn about the new phenomenon of “spoopy” by doing a gapped text reading exercise. Download the handout and teacher’s notes below:

  1. What are the similarities and differences between these two images?
  • Which of these images do you find the spookiest?
  1. Listening (Part 2) VIDEO – The Messed Up Origins™ of Jack-o’-Lanterns

Watch the video (x2) until 5:17 and fill the gaps (1 to 3 words):

  1. Once you think about the name “Jack-o’-lantern”, it becomes evident that this tradition comes from ____________.
  2. Stingy Jack’s personal qualities made the devil ____________.
  3. On his way home Jack saw _______________ on the ground.
  4. The mutilated corpse’s voice was _____________ Satan himself.
  5. The devil was surprised by Jack’s ______________.
  6. Jack prevented the devil from climbing down the tree by surrounding it with ___________.
  7. The devil gave Jack a glowing ember as a _____________.
  8. According to the legend, Jack walks around _____________________ on October 31st.
  • Reading and Use of English (Part 7)

Read the text and choose the correct paragraph from [A]-[G] to fill in the gaps [1]-[6]. There is one extra paragraph, which you do not need to use.

ADAPTED FROM CULTURE DESK – San Francisco Chronicle

What is spoopy? Your guide to the Internet’s favorite Halloween aesthetic

For the past few years, October has not only heralded the return of Halloween and pumpkin spice lattes, it has also marked the dawning of spoopy season. For a small group of people who belong in the center of a Venn diagram of mellowed-out goths and the “extremely online,” the spoopy aesthetic has become a source of joy and comfort in turbulent times.

[1]

“Spookiness is campy, but spoopiness is campy in a very specific way,” says John Paul Brammer, a New York City writer and advice columnist whose popular memes about the demonic goat from the movie “The Witch” are more of the former. “Spoopy’s whole thing is that it is not frightening. It’s not threatening, not arcane, but uses the trappings of the threatening and the arcane to make the joke: OoOoOooOo!!! SpoooOOoooOOooky!!”

[2]

Its origin is much more straightforward than its meaning. In 2009, the word was spotted on a skeleton-theme sign displayed at a Ross Dress For Less store. Though its ascent took some time, the term gained popularity on niche social media communities like Tumblr until it finally reached escape velocity to spread even further.

[3]

Though it might seem random, the delight of this sort of banal creepiness stems from the desire to look an object of fear in the eye — and laugh.

[4]

In political discourse, Prevas points to anti-transgender activists using the image of Frankenstein’s monster to demonize transgender people. Historically, monsters have often stood in for types of people who were undesirable: racial minorities, immigrants, queer people, anyone outside the “normal.” “I love the unsettling part of (spoopiness),” Prevas says, “that disconnect between seeing the creatures which we expect to see in a horror scenario in a perfectly quotidian scene.”

[5]

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it resonates so well right now, at a time when marginalized people’s status feels extremely fraught and political rhetoric insists on estranging us from polite society. This aesthetic defies the imperative to be afraid: Instead, we embrace the monsters as part of ourselves, as neighbours. To let the monster out is, in a sense, letting oneself out. 

[6]

When we look at the skeleton riding a bike, it almost feels aspirational: This is what life could look like if our cloistered selves were set free. As it turns out, spoopiness might be just what we need right now.

[A] Because I’m a restaurant critic, my gauge of whether or not something has hit the mainstream is “The Great British Bake-Off.” In the 10th season, currently airing on the British Channel 4 and Netflix, Spanish contestant Helena Garcia has emerged as a fan favourite thanks to her memorably macabre but cute creations like a chocolate orange tarantula flanked by macadamia nut spider eggs, eldritch horror pies and bloody green “witch finger” biscuits.

[B] What is “spoopy”? It’s the coupling of wildly absurdist humour with terror — an aesthetic unto itself that, like camp, can be hard to articulate.

[C] Spoopy is a reclamation and reframing of these monsters, a mind-set that boasts, “You say I should be scared of this? Hilarious!”

[D] In fables and literary fiction, monsters are the embodiments of everything that society represses: a “warning system” of sorts, says Christine Prevas, a Columbia University Ph.D. candidate whose research focuses on applying queer theory to contemporary horror. The monster is a taboo made flesh: A prepubescent girl turned foul-mouthed, vomiting demon in “The Exorcist”; a bad sexual encounter run amok in “It Follows.”

[E] When I look at this stuff, it reminds me of how I like to “watch” horror movies by reading their plot summaries on Wikipedia: a digital version of peeking at Medusa’s face by holding up a mirror.

[F] This disruption of the narrative of otherness mirrors the way people actually want to be seen. For instance, queer people can be queer outside of designated contexts like gay bars and the privacy of one’s bedroom, Prevas says. “We’re also queer in the grocery store. We’re also queer on a bicycle.”

[G] Much easier than defining it is sorting through what is and isn’t spoopy. As a start, think of it as friendly and somewhat sarcastic horror: A skeleton isn’t, but a skeleton riding a bike? Definitely spoopy. The Babadook isn’t, but the memes that claim that the monster is a proud gay man? Super spoopy.

  • Language focus (15 min)
  1. Vocabulary

Look at the words in bold in the text and discuss the meaning with a partner:

Former 
Somewhat 
Spotted 
Gauge 
Embodiments 
Unsettling 
Mirrors 

Next, fill in the gaps with the vocabulary words in the correct form to fit the context:

  • Jack saw a mutilated corpse with a(n) _____________  look on its face.
  • His mood ___________ the gloomy weather on that Halloween night.
  • Between risking being tricked and facing Jack’s grumbling stomach for the rest of the trip, the devil chose the _________.
  • Some consider him the very _____________ of evil.
  • The devil was ____________ confused by Jack’s request to pay the bill at the bar.
  • Jack ___________ a mutilated corpse on the ground on his way home from the bar.
USEFUL CHUNKSUse the trappings of (sth) Stem from Run amok In a sense
  • After Jack __________ the level of danger he was in, he decided to trap the devil by using crosses.

Author:

Barcelona based English Teacher, blogger and sometime actor and director.

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