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Gothic Literature and Race

3. Zofloya and Frankenstein

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In this module, we think about the racial politics in Charlotte Dacre's Zofloya (1806) and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818), focusing in particular on: (i) the tendency for early British Gothic to be set somewhere other than Britain; (ii) the significance of the fact that Zofloya, not Victoria or Laurina, is the title character of the novel; (iii) the moral message of Zofloya, and its relation to Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792); (iv) the racialised description of the creature in Frankenstein (cf. the description of "Eboe" Africans in Bryan Edwards' History of the British Colonies); (v) the extent to which the creature is treated and acts like a slave; (vi) Victor's complaints that he is a slave to the creature ("I appeared rather like one doomed by slavery"); (vii) the anxieties felt by slave-owners over how their slaves were treated (e.g. Matthew Lewis in his Journal of a West Indian Proprietor, 1834); and (viii) the presentation of the creature as an insurrectionary slave, and the reasons for and morality of his 'rebellion'.


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 - Zofloya and Frankenstein [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

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

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