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Gothic Literature and Race

2. Race, Revolution and the Gothic

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In this module, we think about the influence of 19th-century revolutions in Europe and North America and the development of Gothic literature, focusing in particular on: (i) the religious significance of white/black as good/evil, and its application in this period to white and black people; (ii) the series of revolutions that took place around the turn of the 18th/19th centuries, e.g. the American Revolutionary War (1775-83), the French Revolution (1789-99) and the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804); (iii) the extent to which the violence in these revolutions was seen in racial terms; (iv) the attempts by authors such as Bryan Edwards (1743-1800) and Leonora Sansay (1773-1821) to explain away white violence in Haiti by claiming that the planters in Haiti were not fully white.


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).

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APA style

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

MLA style

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

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