Your task is to dig a little bit on one of these topics that came up in our brief conversation following Kling’s “Waiting for Mr. Mershing” and to answer this question: how is Halloween rhetorical? Post your findings on your blog today in class (or later if you don’t finish).

Here’s the infographic here about sexy costumes that shouldn’t be sexy.

  • Why do people wear sexy costumes (or “sexy” costumes…)
  • What does it suggest about people/American culture/society
  • Are there sexy costumes for men? explore this…
  • If you explore costumes in more general terms, consider why and how certain trends emerge. 
  • How come it’s okay for little kids to dress up as the devil, as a witch, as a tiny vampire. These are really dark things…how do we make them suitable for children–what’s the argument here?

Candy/Trick or Treating

  • Where does this practice come from?
  • What’s it all about?
  • Has it changed at all? 
  • Is it really all about sweet things? What about the tricks?

Haunted houses/house decor/superstitions

  • How are these things related?
  • Why do we decorate our houses on holidays?
  • Where do superstitions come from? how do they continue?


  • Seriously, what’s the deal? Where does it come from?
  • While were at it, what about other symbols of Halloween, like black cats?


  • Why do we enjoy being scared?
  • Why do we watch horror/slasher movies?
  • What does this say about us (culture, society, humans)?

Zombie/Vampire obsesh

  • Where did we get the idea of zombies? the term? why?
  • Why do they eat braaaaaaaaaains? 
  • Go watch this scene from Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) 1:15:26 
  • Maybe read this
  • And this
  • Why are vampires suddenly all the rage? Read this
  • Where did our vampire obsession stem? what started it all? Watch this
  • How has the vampire image changed or remained the same?  

The Gross-out Factor

  • Halloween parties featuring gross food items, like “severed fingers” and “brains” and “eye balls” and “baby guts” and deep-fried spiders (which some people somewhere actually eat).
  • General indulgence in all things “icky”: spiders, snakes, bats — things we normally object to, we celebrate. Why? Why do we do this?