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

By Maisha L. Wester (auth.)

This new critique of latest African-American fiction explores its intersections with and opinions of the Gothic style. Wester finds 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 automobile for the enunciation of the bizarre terrors and complexities of black lifestyles in the US. Re-reading significant African American literary texts similar to Narrative of the lifetime of Frederick Douglass, of 1 Blood, Cane, Invisible guy, and Corregidora African American Gothic investigates texts from each 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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Extra resources for African American Gothic: Screams from Shadowed Places

Sample text

The fifth chapter returns to the scene of slavery through an interrogation of Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1988). ’ ” She further states, “The exercise is also critical for any person who is black, or who belongs to any marginalized category, for, historically, we were seldom invited to participate in the discourse even when we were its topic” (Morrison 1998b, 46). Beloved implies that the absolute horror of slavery lay not just in its dehumanization of individuals, but how this dehumanization inevitably impacts and disrupts the African American family beyond the era of slavery.

The notion of “borrowing” implies that blacks can never actually possess and, consequently, alter the genre. However, shifting the language from “borrowing” to “appropriating” implies a determination to reconfigure—to make suitable—for black experience. Such reconfiguration implies black claim to the genre: by reconfiguring the genre, shifting the signifiers and signified away from their meanings in the Anglo tradition, black writers introduce profound variations that make the gothic something new.

In repositioning the trope as “misreading,” rather than just misperception, slave narrators illustrate an insightful revision of the genre’s tropes, a moment in which it is clearly remade to signify the peculiarities of black existence given the integral role literacy plays in legitimating slaves as humans. As Lynn Casmier-Paz notes in “Slave Narrative and the Rhetoric of Author Portraiture,” the slave portraits at the beginning of each narrative illustrate the ideological connection between being and literacy, as slaves are often shown holding a book or a pen, or framed against the inscription of their name.

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