Black Horror Fiction and the Nightmare of Race
AAAD 299 Section 35204
Second Eight weeks
COLL (CASE) A&H Breadth of Inquiry credit
Professor Maisha Wester
Ever read a Stephen King novel or watch one of his movies and wonder why it is that there’s always an Indian Burial ground connected to the haunting and violence? Ever wonder why so many monsters in horror literature are described in terms of blackness, if they aren’t straight out black? This course seeks to interrogate the ways African Americans have been represented as monstrous in American horror literature. Indeed, given the ways this trend has been adopted by horror film, and thus receives a wider audience, such interrogations prove vital for understanding the ways racist articulation has persisted unquestioned throughout popular culture.
More importantly, this course looks at the ways African American writers have written back to and against these metaphorizations of their bodies by re-writing horror fiction. We will ask, what is horror for the black body which has been deemed, in American literature, the very source of terror? How do African Americans appropriate a genre which has imprisoned them as monstrous without re-asserting those tropes? As such, this course will look at early and contemporary horror literature by white authors such as H.P. Lovecraft, popular American film such as Stephen King’s Bag of Bones, and of course African American horror literature and film, such as Brandon Massey’s Dark Corner and Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horrors.
Possible texts and films:
Dark Corner by Brandon Massey
Ghost Summer by Tananerive Due
A Visitation of Spirits by Randall Kenan
Stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Stories by H.P. Lovecraft
I Walked with a Zombie (1932)
Bag of Bones (2011)