Presentation Title

Ghosts and Girls: Voices of the Contemporary American Gothic

Faculty Mentor

Rebecca Lush

Start Date

23-11-2019 10:45 AM

End Date

23-11-2019 11:00 AM

Location

Markstein 201

Session

oral 2

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

humanities_letters

Abstract

Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved abounds with gothic genre elements: the haunting ghostly presence of a dead baby, the horrors of slavery, and the overwhelming anxiety that threatens the novel’s main character Sethe. Like Morrison’s Sethe, Cleófilas in Sandra Cisneros’s short story “Woman Hollering Creek,” endures violence and the pain of seeing her dreams turn into nightmares. For this project, I compare the use of supernatural and gothic elements in the works of Toni Morrison and Sandra Cisneros and argue that both authors utilize ghosts and haunted spaces in their stories to portray the unique traumas experienced by women of color. Cisneros situates Cleófila’s pain in relation to the urban legend La Llorona, a ghost that Cleófilas believes is “calling to her” (51). Additionally, both Cisneros and Morrison utilize haunted physical spaces in their work to highlight the horror and anxieties Sethe and Cleófilas experience moving through their stories. While many scholars have previously discussed Morrison as a gothic writer, Sandra Cisneros is not generally considered a gothic author. Expanding on the call made by Paul Wickelson who urges more scholars to view Cisneros in the gothic tradition, my work considers Cisneros and Morrison to both be working with a literary tradition that uses the gothic, the ghostly, and haunted spaces to represent the darkness and pain each author’s respective main characters have suffered, the madness they must overcome, and an uncertain ending for both women.

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Nov 23rd, 10:45 AM Nov 23rd, 11:00 AM

Ghosts and Girls: Voices of the Contemporary American Gothic

Markstein 201

Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved abounds with gothic genre elements: the haunting ghostly presence of a dead baby, the horrors of slavery, and the overwhelming anxiety that threatens the novel’s main character Sethe. Like Morrison’s Sethe, Cleófilas in Sandra Cisneros’s short story “Woman Hollering Creek,” endures violence and the pain of seeing her dreams turn into nightmares. For this project, I compare the use of supernatural and gothic elements in the works of Toni Morrison and Sandra Cisneros and argue that both authors utilize ghosts and haunted spaces in their stories to portray the unique traumas experienced by women of color. Cisneros situates Cleófila’s pain in relation to the urban legend La Llorona, a ghost that Cleófilas believes is “calling to her” (51). Additionally, both Cisneros and Morrison utilize haunted physical spaces in their work to highlight the horror and anxieties Sethe and Cleófilas experience moving through their stories. While many scholars have previously discussed Morrison as a gothic writer, Sandra Cisneros is not generally considered a gothic author. Expanding on the call made by Paul Wickelson who urges more scholars to view Cisneros in the gothic tradition, my work considers Cisneros and Morrison to both be working with a literary tradition that uses the gothic, the ghostly, and haunted spaces to represent the darkness and pain each author’s respective main characters have suffered, the madness they must overcome, and an uncertain ending for both women.