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Historicizing the Gothic: political and cultural implications in Edgar Allan Poe’s tales


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Matić, Nina. (2015). Historicizing the Gothic: political and cultural implications in Edgar Allan Poe’s tales. Diploma Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of English Language and Literature. [mentor Šesnić, Jelena].

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For a long time, traditional critics read Edgar Allan Poe as an aesthete unconcerned with history and social issues of his day. However, recent years have given rise to a new critical current that regards his works in a historical context and considers the literary tropes that reveal socio-historical implications of the period in which he lived and created his fiction. Many such critics, following Toni Morrison’s concept of the so-called “Africanist presence”, read his fiction in pursuit of racial signifiers, as well as other codes that denote different political and cultural issues. In this thesis, Poe’s tales are analyzed within the framework of this new revisionist approach that historicizes his fiction. More specifically, eight of his Gothic tales are read within the context of the antebellum America, whose practices and principles Poe presents and subtly criticizes. The analyzed tales are the following: “Some Words with a Mummy”, “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains”, “The Man That Was Used Up”, “The Gold-Bug”, “Hop-Frog”, “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether”, “The Black Cat”, and “The Premature Burial”. With the issue of race as the central point of examination, the analysis of the tales shows how Poe explores many aspects of American politics and culture, predominantly focusing on the oppression of black slaves and Native Americans. In that sense, he often alludes to slavery and Indian removal, placing those issues within a broader context of the imperialistic and expansionist practices of 19th-century America. In the process of historicizing the Gothic, it is possible to uncover many political and cultural implications in Poe’s literary pieces.

Item Type: Diploma Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: Poe, the Gothic, antebellum America, imperialism, Manifest Destiny, expansionism, slavery, Indian removal, blackness, whiteness, African American, Native American
Subjects: English language and literature
Departments: Department of English Language and Literature
Supervisor: Šesnić, Jelena
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2015 10:34
Last Modified: 13 Nov 2015 10:34

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