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The Gothic

A Reader


Edited By Simon Bacon

What is the Gothic?

From ghosts to vampires, from ruined castles to steampunk fashion, the Gothic is a term that evokes all things strange, haunted and sinister.

This volume offers a new look at the world of the Gothic, from its origins in the eighteenth century to its reemergence today. Each short essay is dedicated to a single text – a novel, a film, a comic book series, a festival – that serves as a lens to explore the genre. Original readings of classics like The Mysteries of Udolpho (Ann Radcliffe) and Picnic at Hanging Rock (Joan Lindsay) are combined with unique insights into contemporary examples like the music of Mexican rock band Caifanes, the novels Annihilation (Jeff VanderMeer), Goth (Otsuichi) and The Paying Guests (Sarah Waters), and the films Crimson Peak (Guillermo del Toro) and Ex Machina (Alex Garland).

Together the essays provide innovative ways of understanding key texts in terms of their Gothic elements. Invaluable for students, teachers and fans alike, the book’s accessible style allows for an engaging look at the spectral and uncanny nature of the Gothic.

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Brandon Massey’s Dark Corner (2004) – African American Gothic (Maisha L. Wester)


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Maisha L. Wester

Brandon Massey’s Dark Corner (2004)

Discussions of African American Gothic fiction are relatively new to Gothic studies. For decades, as Jewel Gomez notes in a 1993 interview, the standard for African American literature was the ‘utilitarian approach’ which ‘suggests that black writers should not produce literary works that are “fun” (i.e. literature that is thought of as an “indulgence” or as “trivial” such as science fiction or horror) because black literature must be “serious” and “serve a higher purpose”’ (Jenkins 2013: 313–14). Within the last twenty years scholars have been challenging this standard, expanding the field of African American Gothic literary studies and exploring texts by authors such as Jean Toomer, Ann Petry, Ishmael Reed, and Tananarive Due.1

Brandon Massey is therefore in excellent company as an author of African American Gothic fiction. Massey’s novel Dark Corner (2004) illustrates mechanics and themes common to African American Gothic such as slavery’s legacy and the horrors of state sanctioned violence, the fracturing of black family and stereotypes of black patriarchal abandonment, and the self-destructive violence that stems from unchecked rage. Dark Corner revises Bram Stoker’s Dracula to prove that black speculative fiction is, in fact, an important literary genre which addresses ‘serious’ issues (Jenkins 2013: 315). In many ways, the text engages the discussions and techniques in novels such as Octavia Butler’s Kindred (1979) and Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987), films such as Blacula (1972) and Ganja and Hess...

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