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Gothic Literature and Race

1. Gothic and the Grotesque

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In this module, we introduce the ideas of the gothic and the grotesque, focusing in particular on: (i) some of the key tropes of Gothic literature, and the extent to which these tropes can be (and have been) mobilised for anti-blackness; (ii) some of the key social, cultural and political anxieties expressed and explored in Gothic literature, and the extent to which these anxieties relate to issues of race; (iii) the concept of the grotesque as a category that blurs the boundary between two apparently separate domains, e.g. living/dead, man/machine, etc.; and (iv) the grotesque in architecture and art, and the blurring of the boundary between centre and margin.


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 - Gothic and the Grotesque [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Wester, M. "Gothic Literature and Race – Gothic and the Grotesque." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 14 Feb 2022,

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