In America as in Britain, the rise of the Gothic represented the other—the fearful shadows cast upon Enlightenment philosophies of common sense, democratic positivism, and optimistic futurity. Many critics have recognized the centrality of these shadows to American culture and self-identification. American Gothic, however, remaps the field by offering a series of revisionist essays associated with a common theme: the range and variety of Gothic manifestations in high and popular art from the roots of American culture to the present. The thirteen essayists approach the persistence of the Gothic in American culture by providing a composite of interventions that focus on specific issues—the histories of gender and race, the cultures of cities and scandals and sensations—in order to advance distinct theoretical paradigms. Each essay sustains a connection between a particular theoretical field and a central problem in the Gothic tradition. Drawing widely on contemporary theory—particularly revisionist views of Freud such as those offered by Lacan and Kristeva—this volume ranges from the well-known Gothic horrors of Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne to the popular fantasies of Stephen King and the postmodern visions of Kathy Acker. Special attention is paid to the issues of slavery and race in both black and white texts, including those by Ralph Ellison and William Faulkner. In the view of the editors and contributors, the Gothic is not so much a historical category as a mode of thought haunted by history, a part of suburban life and the lifeblood of films such as The Exorcist and Fatal Attraction.
Following the structure of other titles in the Continuum Introductions to Literary Genres series, American Gothic Fiction includes: A broad definition of the genre and its essential elements. A timeline of developments within the genre. Critical concerns to bear in mind while reading in the genre. Detailed readings of a range of widely taught texts. In-depth analysis of major themes and issues. Signposts for further study within the genre. A summary of the most important criticism in the field. A glossary of terms. An annotated, critical reading list. This book offers students, writers, and serious fans a window into some of the most popular topics, styles and periods in this subject. Authors studied in American Gothic Fiction include Charles Brockden Brown, William Montgomery Bird, James Fenimore Cooper, Edgar Allan Poe, George Lippard, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Gilmore Simms, John Neal, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ambrose Bierce, Emma Dawson, W.D. Howells, Henry James, William Faulkner, Anne Rice and William Gibson>
Gender and Slavery in Nineteenth-Century American Literature
Author: Professor Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet
Publisher: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
Category: Literary Criticism
Taking as its point of departure recent insights about the performative nature of genre, The Poetics and Politics of the American Gothic challenges the critical tendency to accept at face value that gothic literature is mainly about fear. Instead, Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet argues that the American Gothic, and gothic literature in general, is also about judgment: how to judge and what happens when judgment is confronted with situations that defy its limits. Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, Gilman, and James all shared a concern with the political and ideological debates of their time, but tended to approach these debates indirectly. Thus, Monnet suggests, while slavery and race are not the explicit subject matter of antebellum works by Poe and Hawthorne, they nevertheless permeate it through suggestive analogies and tacit references. Similarly, Melville, Gilman, and James use the gothic to explore the categories of gender and sexuality that were being renegotiated during the latter half of the century. Focusing on "The Fall of the House of Usher," The Marble Faun, Pierre, The Turn of the Screw, and "The Yellow Wallpaper," Monnet brings to bear minor texts by the same authors that further enrich her innovative readings of these canonical works. At the same time, her study persuasively argues that the Gothic's endurance and ubiquity are in large part related to its being uniquely adapted to rehearse questions about judgment and justice that continue to fascinate and disturb.
The Biography of Grant Wood's American Masterpiece
Author: Thomas Hoving
Publisher: Chamberlain Brothers
The story behind one of the most famous paintings in American art. The stern, sober countenance of the elderly farmer. The quiet, loyal character of his prim wife. Few other paintings are so instantly recognizable as Grant Wood's masterpiece American Gothic. Bestselling Chicago author Thomas Hoving brings to life Wood himself and illuminates, as only he can, the allure of this iconic painting. This is the lively biography of Grant Wood, whose roots grew deep in the heartland of America, a poor kid in a small Iowa town. His painting was a reflection of the place where he lived and the world he knew. It is also a biography of the painting itself, from its inspiration, to its controversial unveiling at a juried exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago-where it earned derision, praise, and a bronze medal-to its eventual acceptance and recognition as a true original work of art. Today it ranks with the Mona Lisa and Edvard Munch's The Scream as one of the most well-known (and parodied) paintings in the world-and it remains a beloved piece of Americana.
One of the very first books to take Stephen King seriously, Landscape of Fear (originally published in 1988) reveals the source of King's horror in the sociopolitical anxieties of the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate era. In this groundbreaking study, Tony Magistrale shows how King's fiction transcends the escapism typical of its genre to tap into our deepest cultural fears: "that the government we have installed through the democratic process is not only corrupt but actively pursuing our destruction, that our technologies have progressed to the point at which the individual has now become expendable, and that our fundamental social institutions-school, marriage, workplace, and the church-have, beneath their veneers of respectability, evolved into perverse manifestations of narcissism, greed, and violence." Tracing King's moralist vision to the likes of Twain, Hawthorne, and Melville, Landscape of Fear establishes the place of this popular writer within the grand tradition of American literature. Like his literary forbears, King gives us characters that have the capacity to make ethical choices in an imperfect, often evil world. Yet he inscribes that conflict within unmistakably modern settings. From the industrial nightmare of "Graveyard Shift" to the breakdown of the domestic sphere in The Shining, from the techno-horrors of The Stand to the religious fanaticism and adolescent cruelty depicted in Carrie, Magistrale charts the contours of King's fictional landscape in its first decade.
The Story of America's Legendary Theatrical Family—Junius, Edwin, and John Wilkes Booth
Author: Gene Smith
Publisher: Open Road Media
A New York Times–bestselling author’s “lively” account of a family of famous actors—who became notorious after the assassination of President Lincoln (The New Yorker). Junius Booth and his sons, Edwin and John Wilkes, were nineteenth-century America’s most famous theatrical family. Yet the Booth name is forever etched in the history books for one terrible reason: the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. In American Gothic, bestselling historian Gene Smith vividly chronicles the triumphs, scandals, and tragedies of this infamous family. The preeminent English tragedian of his day, Junius Booth was a madman and an alcoholic who abandoned his wife and young son to move to America and start a new family. His son Edwin became the most renowned Shakespearean actor in America, famously playing Hamlet for one hundred consecutive nights, but he suffered from depression and a crippling fear of inheriting his father’s insanity. Blessed with extraordinary good looks and a gregarious nature, John Wilkes Booth seemed destined for spectacular fame and fortune. However, his sympathy for the Confederate cause unleashed a dangerous instability that brought permanent disgrace to his family and forever changed the course of American history. Richly detailed and emotionally insightful, American Gothic is a “ripping good tale” that brings to life the true story behind a family tragedy of Shakespearean proportions (The New York Times).
Best known for her short story "The Lottery" and her novel The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson produced a body of work that is more varied and complex than critics have realized. In fact, as Darryl Hattenhauer argues here, Jackson was one of the few writers to anticipate the transition from modernism to postmodernism, and therefore ranks among the most significant writers of her time. The first comprehensive study of all of Jackson's fiction, Shirley Jackson's American Gothic offers readers the chance not only to rediscover her work, but also to see how and why a major American writer was passed over for inclusion in the canon of American literature.
This book defines the American Gothic and places it both within the context of the major movements of intellectual history in the last 300 years, and also within the context of the critical issues of American culture. From Poe to Faulkner to Toni Morrison and Cormac McCarthy, many of the best and most critically acclaimed works of American literature have been Gothic. The book will demonstrate how the Gothic provides a forum for discussing key issues of American culture, for exploring forbidden subjects, and for providing a voice for the repressed and silenced.