Studies: 18th C Literature

The Transatlantic Gothic

This class will explore gothic fiction of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Reading works from the Atlantic world, we will analyze how the gothic genre represents, remakes, and resists dominant systems of gender, sexuality, race, and nation. We will attend particularly to how the gothic genre interfaces with settler colonialism, the transatlantic slave trade, and their global repercussions. As we do so, we will consider what the genre’s conventions — in particular, its abiding concern with horror, terror, violence, trauma, repression, haunting, and non-normative experiences and characters — offer for understanding this period and its contemporary legacies. Readings will include works by Horace Walpole, Matthew Lewis, Charles Brockden Brown, Mary Rowlandson, and Mary Prince. We will also analyze some contemporary works that use gothic forms, such as Jordan Peele’s Get Out (2017).