Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
© 2019 Alexandra E Rivera
According to Michael Sean Bolton, the posthuman Gothic involves a fear of internal monsters that won't destroy humanity apocalyptically, but will instead redefine what it means to be human overall. These internal monsters reflect societal anxieties about the "other" gaining power and overtaking the current groups in power. The posthuman Gothic shows psychological horrors and transformations. Traditionally this genre has been used to theorize postmodern media and literary work by focusing on cyborgs and transhumanist medical advancements. However, the internal and psychological nature of posthumanism is fascinating and can more clearly manifest in a different Gothic setting, 1800s American Gothic Fiction. This subgenre of the Gothic melds well with the posthuman Gothic because unlike the Victorian Gothic, its supernatural entities are not literal; they are often figurative and symbolic, appearing through hallucinations. In this historical context, one can examine the dynamic in which the "human" is determined by a rational humanism that bases its human model on Western, white masculinity. Therefore, the other is clearly gendered and racialized. Margrit Shildrick offers an interesting analysis of the way women fit into this construction of the other because of their uncanniness and Gothic monstrosity. Three works of American Gothic fiction--George Lippard's The Quaker City, Edgar Allen Poe's "Ligeia," and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" portray these gendered power dynamics present within the posthuman Gothic when applied to the American Gothic; the female characters are either forced by patriarchy into becoming monstrous, or they were never fully human in the first place.
Rivera, Alexandra, "Human Monsters: Examining the Relationship Between the Posthuman Gothic and Gender in American Gothic Fiction" (2019). Scripps Senior Theses. 1358.