Haunted Hemisphere: American Gothic Literature in the Long Nineteenth Century

Bray, Katie, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Brickhouse, Anna, Department of English, University of Virginia
Lott, Eric, Department of English, University of Virginia
Greeson, Jennifer, Department of English, University of Virginia
Hale, Grace, Department of History, University of Virginia

“Haunted Hemisphere” calls attention to the hemispheric gothic as a distinct body of literature, a genre that exposes the intertwining of United States narratives with the histories of the wider American hemisphere, against the grain of a contemporary literary culture that rarely spoke directly of the nation's profound involvement in a nexus of supranational cultural and economic relations. Hemispheric gothic works—from well-known novels by authors like Poe and Melville to popular fictions like The Black Vampyre—situate literary marketplaces within the haunted spaces of their plots, and thereby model, in an uncanny microcosmic form, the mutual imbrication of ostensibly distinct markets extending across the hemisphere. The slave revolts and shipwrecks I analyze are not simply generic horrors, but invoke recent historical memories that official discourses sought to repress, such as the Haitian Revolution, and proclaim the historical interdependence of (for example) the United States and Haiti. Through gothic explorations of the uncanny spaces of ships engaged in commercial and imperialist voyages, or the complicated genealogies of early colonial settlers in the Americas, the hemispheric gothic emerges as a transnational literary phenomenon engaged in highlighting the discrepant but shared histories of the New World that propelled nineteenth-century popular and canonical fiction alike.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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