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Gothic Literature and Race

4. Anti-Blackness and the American Gothic

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In this module, we think about anti-blackness in American Gothic literature, focusing in particular on: (i) Grant Wood's 1930 painting American Gothic, and how American Gothic differs from British Gothic; (ii) the idea of the United States as a haunted nation, particularly in relation to slavery; (iii) Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-64) and his short stories 'Young Goodman Brown' (1835) and 'The Birth-Mark' (1843); (iv) Edgar Allen Poe (1809-49) and The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838); (v) Herman Melville (1819-91) and Benito Cereno (1855); and (v) William Faulkner (1897-1962) and his short stories 'A Rose for Emily' (1930) and 'Barn Burning' (1939).


In this course Dr Maisha Wester (University of Sheffield) explores Gothic literature through the lens of race. In the first module, we provide an introduction to the concepts of the gothic and the grotesque in literature and the arts, before turning in the second module to the influence of the American (1775-83), French (1789-99) and (especially) Haitian Revolutions (1791-1804) on Gothic literature. In the third module, we think about the racial politics in British Gothic literature, especially Charlotte Dacre's Zofloya (1806) and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818), before turning in the fourth module to think about the same issues in American Gothic literature. In the fifth module, we think about anti-blackness in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (1925), before turning in the sixth module to consider black diasporic Gothic literature, including Richard Wright's Native Son (1940), Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man (1952) and Toni Morrison's Beloved (1987). Finally, in the seven module, we think about anti-blackness in horror film, and the importance of black film directors including Oscar Michaux (1884-1951), Bill Gunn (1934-89) and Jordan Peele (1979-).


Dr Maisha Wester is visiting lecturer at the University of Sheffield. Her research and teaching focuses on Gothic literature and Horror Film, although she also teaches American literature and African American Cultural Studies. Some of her recent publications include African American Gothic: Screams from Shadowed Places (2012) and (as co-editor) Twenty-First-Century Gothic: An Edinburgh Companion (2019).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Wester, M. (2022, February 14). Gothic Literature and Race - Anti-Blackness and the American Gothic [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Wester, M. "Gothic Literature and Race – Anti-Blackness and the American Gothic." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 14 Feb 2022,

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