Skip to main content

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 with 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.

Dr. Wester's Resume/CV 

Popular posts from this blog

28 Black Women Horror Filmmakers

1. Zandashé Brown, Blood Runs Down (2018) 2. Raeshelle Cooke, Last Words (2015) 3. Tamara S. Hall, A Night At The Table (2019) 4. R. Shanea Williams, Paralysis (2015) 5. Monica Moore-Suriyage, Black In Red Out (2016)

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.

Looking Back & Hoping Forward: Candyman

Candyman has been a delicate enigma, a tale, a very tepid preoccupation of mine since I was ten. It began with the gold glare of the sun through my mother’s bedroom window. Her often condensed space, accentuated by the imposing almost Beetlejuice-inspired black furniture, stationary yet bustling clutter; both new acquisitions and relics from a time before me. And her “bulbous” television as she would call the appliance, positioned central in her reliance on its distractions from her ever 40+ hour work weeks and (even with the father of her two youngest in the apartment), raising three children on her own. It faced her queen-size, perched on a dresser-storage hybrid. Likely, the time was Fall, possibly a video store rental. Sure, no one’s around, I’ll watch Candyman, why not. I had been watching films like Hellraiser since I was about six.