African American Gothic: Screams from Shadowed Places by Maisha L. Wester (auth.)

By Maisha L. Wester (auth.)

This new critique of up to date African-American fiction explores its intersections with and reviews of the Gothic style. Wester unearths the myriad methods writers control 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 ordinary terrors and complexities of black lifestyles 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 in the course of the African American literary canon.

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Additional info for African American Gothic: Screams from Shadowed Places

Sample text

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. For the black writer attempting to create a sense of being within a white society that codifies its being over and against his enslavement and body, defining himself against the “not-free, not-me” dialectic becomes imperative. This proves particularly difficult when writers begin to question and redefine notions of freedom.

Consequently, the grotesque-hybrid slave comes to embody a disordered system because of the inscription of being, through white ancestors and light/unreadable skin, on his body. He embodies the clash of two social orders that, while materially coexisting within a regimented and bound system, should not physically coexist within the individual body. 2 The anxieties surrounding the collapse of hierarchies complicate gothic discourses of death, impurity, and genetic contamination (Edwards 7). However, anxieties are textually resolved once writers re-mark the hybrid body as racial Other, through language or bodily signifiers, circumventing the hybrid’s ability to float through boundaries and removing it to its own category as aberrant contaminant.

Allegorize the human condition itself as existential alienation and angst” (Gleeson-White 108). Such writers recognize the veracity of some of the popular perceptions about the region, even as they deny their position as the nation’s Other. Understanding Southern Gothic proves useful for understanding African American Gothic because of the former’s concern with history. The South is the location of temporal conflict and writers often represent it as the place where history turns in upon itself; Southern writers “evoke a string of distorted figures trapped in structures that had lost their authority but not their power” (Lloyd-Smith 121).

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