African American Literature and the Gothic: Some Critical Usage Considerations

Author:Martin Japtok Time:2019-07-10 Click:

As the term gothic has moved out from its confined space in 18th and 19th century European literature and is now applied to many literatures, both past and present, its definition has also become more and more expansive. The essay argues that critics should be more modest in the application of the gothic, not least by asking themselves whether gothic” is the appropriate term to use to describe a specific plot turn or text. Especially in discussions of African American literature, the term gothic appears to this author sometimes misplaced. The essay gives a number of examples of problematic usages and of the risks associated with an overuse of “gothic,” among which are the reification of pain, a circular logic that does not elucidate anything, and the sidelining of other potential explanatory frameworks.

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