By Maisha L. Wester (auth.)
This new critique of latest African-American fiction explores its intersections with and evaluations of the Gothic style. Wester finds the myriad methods writers manage the style to critique the gothic's conventional racial ideologies and the mechanisms that have been appropriated and re-articulated as an invaluable motor vehicle for the enunciation of the extraordinary terrors and complexities of black life in the USA. Re-reading significant African American literary texts equivalent to Narrative of the lifetime of Frederick Douglass, of 1 Blood, Cane, Invisible guy, and Corregidora African American Gothic investigates texts from every one significant period in African American tradition to teach how the gothic has always circulated through the African American literary canon.
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Extra info for African American Gothic: Screams from Shadowed Places
As Yaeger notes, such fragmentations, racial haunting, and linguistic slips—or “stutterances” as she terms them—are not just sublimated in the culture and literature, “but noisy, voracious, the source of material phantoms” (89). Modern novelists and film producers deem the South as the locale of degenerate populations who hold steadfast to backward traditions. Southern Gothic writers such as Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, and 26 AFRICAN AMERICAN GOTHIC Truman Capote align the genre “with a gloomy vision of modernity, according to which the soul of man is both aimless and loveless.
Self as a body in the middle of a spatial and temporal world [ . . that] does not impose itself on” a body (111). The white world necessarily and physically imposes itself upon the slave writer’s body, marking the erasure of his “metaphysics”1 on his body. From the beginning of life, the slave’s “being” is “over-determined from without” (Fanon 116). White American Gothic literature further complicates the writing of slave’s “being” while capitalizing upon it as conducive to constructions of white being.
Women in Hawthorne’s texts particularly exemplify this tradition. The descriptions of Beatrice in “Rappuccini’s Daughter,” for instance, portray her as both seductive and racially exotic. The text repeatedly juxtaposes her against images of Indian princesses and tropical environments. Poe similarly illustrates such idealizations of women’s bodies and implicitly connects race to gender. The connection consistently manifests itself in female characters such as Ligeia and Madeline Usher—respective figures in “Ligeia” and the “The Fall of the House of Usher”—who threaten and/or destroy Poe’s male protagonists, and who also seem to be renditions of the tragic mulatto or octoroon mistress (Dayan 260–62).
African American Gothic: Screams from Shadowed Places by Maisha L. Wester (auth.)