Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Horror Blackademics: Dr. Maisha Wester


Dr. Maisha Wester holds a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in English from the University of North Florida, Jacksonville as well as the University of Florida, Gainesville. Her primary research interests are African American gothic literature and horror films, "specifically as the tropes mask horror over racial, ethnic, and sexual others." She is currently an Associate Professor at Indiana University Bloomington in the African American & African Diaspora Studies department who has taught and lectured across the country. She has written and presented her research on the work of Eli Roth, Toni Morrison's Beloved, 2005's The Skeleton Key and much more. All with a focus on Black female representation, history, race, class, and feminism.

Considering just a few of the courses she has taught, I am infected by inspiration:

Film and Literature Reading and Watching Horror

Monstrous 'Others': The Nature and Face of Terror in American Gothic Fiction

Black Horror Fiction and the Nightmare of Race

The Horrors of Blackness: African Americans Revising the Gothic

Contemporary Vampires: Metaphors of Oppression in 21st Century America

The Horrors of Race: Race and Class in American Horror Film

Additionally, Dr. Wester is the author of African American Gothic: Screams from Shadowed Places. Wester argues that the "African American Gothic reveals the myriad ways African American writers manipulate the gothic genre to critique traditional racial ideologies" and "serves as a useful vehicle for the enunciation of the peculiar terrors and complexities of black existence in America."

Sharon Chandler (@SharonDeniseAmy) on Twitter notes that as a former student of Dr. Wester's, she "really makes you think about the Africanist presence is used in horror." Further, "she introduced me to the idea that Birth of A Nation, the original silent film, is actually a horror film," noting that the context of horror from the perspective of African Americans is much more expansive than the demonstrated mainstream fare via the Hollywood popular imagination.


Watch Dr. Wester talk African American Gothic Literary Culture:

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