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 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 automobile for the enunciation of the strange terrors and complexities of black lifestyles in the USA. Re-reading significant African American literary texts corresponding 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 regularly circulated through the African American literary canon.
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Extra info for African American Gothic: Screams from Shadowed Places
Her master kept her close by [his] side, and it would have been considered impudent for any of the passengers to have spoken to her, and the crew were not allowed to have any conversation with them . . the history of the beautiful girl remained a mystery. (Brown 33) Two matters remain unspoken and relevant in this excerpt. First, she is implicitly the sexual pet of her master. Brown’s comments upon her beauty, the special treatment she receives from her master, and the consequent regard and exclusion she receives from both passengers and crewmen point to this fact.
His entrapment amplifies and makes him more vulnerable to the doom that all mankind faces and fights. In other words, the slave’s chains in life bind him to hell on earth and in death. Bibb’s metaphysical invocations also illustrate narrative use of metaphor to complete the image of hellish settings and realities. The Southern realm of clanking chains, captives, and lacerated backs (Bibb 29) becomes literal hell, “one of the darkest corners of the earth” where Bibb is doomed to “linger out [his] existence” (114).
Overall, the gothic trope proves particularly useful for black writers in reimagining history and identity because politicized notions of identity such as the queer Other, the black rapist, and the fainting and helpless woman pervade the genre, while the genre proves a likewise capable means for these writers to contest and deconstruct such inscribed identities and histories. Some critics such as Barbara Christian hesitate to read African American literature, especially contemporary texts, over and against the American Gothic tradition.
African American Gothic: Screams from Shadowed Places by Maisha L. Wester (auth.)