Skip to main content

Brainstorming A Black Women's Horror Studies

Whether as a single course or a budding discipline, this idea of a Black Women's Horror Studies was fueled by the building scholarship from myself and other academics over the past few years. The intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and class are fertile topics within the discourse of Black participation and depictions within the horror genre and not explored enough in many aspects and pursuits of intellectual satisfaction. A Black Women's Horror Studies, I hope, will quench any curiosity and become a legitimate staple in liberal arts.

This is still very much a work-in-progress. All of the work compiled here is meant to be an introduction to how we can incorporate the works and images of Black women in the horror genre with a mixture of approaches for the classroom or other educational environments.

Approaches

Black Feminism - Analysis of gender as well as, race, class, sexuality, etc. as simultaneously working forces of equal importance in understanding how oppression works while producing ways to resist such forces through documenting Black women's experiences and autonomous uses of producing their own stories and critical work as a tool for empowerment. (Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought)

Womanism - "Alice Walker introduced the word “womanist” into feminist parlance in her 1983 book In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose. Many women of color in the 1970s had sought to expand the feminism of the Women’s Liberation Movement beyond its concern for the problems of white middle-class women. The adoption of "womanist" signified an inclusion of race and class issues in feminism." (http://womenshistory.about.com/od/feminism/a/womanist.htm)

Cultural Studies - "analysis, interpretation, and criticism" of the media we consume (Douglas Kellner, "Cultural Studies, Multiculturalism and Media Culture")

History, Literary Criticism, Film Studies


Themes & Concepts

Black final girls
Black women horror fiction writers
Black women filmmakers
The horror film
The southern gothic
Supernatual storytelling practices of Black women
Oral traditions
Ghosts, vampires, werewolves, etc. and the Black woman

Required Readings

The Philosophy Of Horror by Noel Carroll

Recreational Terror: Women and the Pleasures of Horror Film Viewing by Isabel Cristina Pinedo

Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present by Robin R. Means Coleman

African American Gothic: Screams from Shadowed Places by Maisha L. Wester

60 Black Women in Horror Fiction by Sumiko Saulson
(*This works as a reference guide for a list of fiction writers to create courses around fiction and can be divided by vampires, ghosts, horror/sci-fi hybrid, and many other themes.)

"Slavery, Human Cruelty, Survival, Horror, Maternity and Rememory : Translating “Beloved” to the Screen" by Matty Stanfield

"Ganja and Hess: Vampires, sex, and addictions" by Manthia Diawara and Phyllis Klotman

"The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators" by bell hooks

"Finding the Humanity in Horror: Black Women's Sexual Identity in Fighting the Supernatural" by Kinitra Brooks

"Bites from the Margins: Contemporary African American Women's Vampire Literature" by Marie-Luise Loffler and Florian Bast

"Celebrating Difference and Community: The Vampire in African-American and Caribbean Women's Writing" by Gina Wisker

Fiction Readings (*Twitter handles added of recommender)

Sycorax's Daughters eds. Kinitra Brooks, PhD, Linda D. Addison, Susana Morrs, PhD
My Soul To Keep by Tananarive Due (@darfucius)
Spook Lights: Southern Gothic Horror by Eden Royce (@noteafever)
Warmth by Sumiko Saulson (@noteafever)
Kindred by Octavia Butler (@medbunny63)
The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin (@BryanOnion)
And They All Lived Happily Ever After by Crystal Connor (@BryanOnion)
The Good House by Tananarive Due (@Stay__Frosty)
Vampire Huntress Legends by L.A. Banks (@amandajohobson)
Beloved by Toni Morrison (@Adam_Cesare)
The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi (@FinalGirlSG)

Forthcoming Readings

Searching for Sycorax: Black Women Haunting Contemporary Horror by Kinitra Brooks
Nalo, Nnedi, & Nora: Contemporary Black Women Writers Challenging Genre Normativity by Kinitra Brooks
Towards a Black Women’s Horror Aesthetic: Critical & Creative Frameworks eds. Susana M. Morris, Linda Addison, and Kinitra Brooks
Black Women in Horror: Critical Perspectives by Susana M. Morris and Kinitra Brooks
Black Women in Horror: Creative Fictions by Linda Addison and Kinitra Brooks

Web Readings

Oh Canada. A Woman Of Colour and Her Perspective On Horror In The Great White North

Scary Sistas: A Brief History of Black Women in Horror Films
On blending art and social justice: my short film, "Lost"
The H Word: On Writing Horror

Required Viewings

Chloe, Love Is Calling You (1934) dir. Marshall Neilan
The Love Wanga (1936) dir. George Terwilliger
Son Of Ingagi (1940) dir. Richard C. Kahn
King Of The Zombies (1941) dir. Jean Yarbrough
The Leech Woman (1960) dir. Edward Dein
Ganja & Hess (1973) dir. Bill Gunn
Scream Blacula Scream (1973) dir. Bob Kelljan
Sugar Hill (1974) dir. Paul Maslansky
Vamp (1986) dir. Richard Wenk
Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight (1995) dir. Ernest Dickerson
Spirit Lost (1997) dir. Neema Barnette
Beloved (1998) dir. Jonathan Demme
Wake (2010) dir. Bree Newsome
Danger Word (2013) dir. Luchina Fisher
Paralysis (2016) dir. R. Shanea Williams

My Final Girl: Black Women in American Horror
Episode 1: Marlene Clark & Night Of The Cobra Woman (1972)
Episode 2: Marlene Clark & Ganja and Hess (1973)
Episode 3: "American Gothic Horror" Beloved (1998) vs. Frailty (2001)

Popular posts from this blog

How MIDSOMMAR Utilizes and Subverts Horror Movie Tropes of People of Color

By Mary Kay McBrayer (@mkmcbrayer)

For a film that could have been easily white-washed, Ari Aster’s Midsommar does have an inclusive cast. Before our characters are even taken to Sweden where most of the film's dread fueled action takes place, we meet them in their college town. Dani (Florence Pugh) stresses about her sister’s scary email while her boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor) drinks at a bar with his buddies, only one of whom is black named Josh (The Good Place's William Jackson Harper).
I have watched enough horror movies to know—and I’ve been brown enough long enough to know—that this setting does not bode well for a person of color. The token minority, say it with me, tends to die first. Because of this ratio, I expected a few other established tropes of the horror genre in Josh’s character, too, and I have to admit, I was delighted and surprised that nothing played out the way I expected.

DARKLY: At The Heart Of Goth, Is Blackness

"Horror has always been used to illuminate cultural anxieties and gives a voice to our collective fears. So, what to make of the gothic in America, a place which by the very nature of its founding is predisposed to a culture of anxiety? The dread knowing the enemy at the gate is understandable, but in America the enemy has already passed through it, and has been brought inside. The call is coming from inside the house."
-words by Leila Taylor