Black Frankenstein: The Making of an American Metaphor

Black Frankenstein: The Making of an American Metaphor

by Ursula Huws, Colin Leys
     
 

For all the scholarship devoted to Mary Shelley's English novel Frankenstein, there has been surprisingly little attention paid to its role in American culture, and virtually none to its racial resonances in the United States. In Black Frankenstein, Elizabeth Young identifies and interprets the figure of a black American Frankenstein monster as it

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Overview

For all the scholarship devoted to Mary Shelley's English novel Frankenstein, there has been surprisingly little attention paid to its role in American culture, and virtually none to its racial resonances in the United States. In Black Frankenstein, Elizabeth Young identifies and interprets the figure of a black American Frankenstein monster as it appears with surprising frequency throughout nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. culture, in fiction, film, essays, oratory, painting, and other media, and in works by both whites and African Americans.

Black Frankenstein stories, Young argues, effect four kinds of racial critique: they humanize the slave; they explain, if not justify, black violence; they condemn the slaveowner; and they expose the instability of white power. The black Frankenstein's monster has served as a powerful metaphor for reinforcing racial hierarchy—and as an even more powerful metaphor for shaping anti-racist critique. Illuminating the power of parody and reappropriation, Black Frankenstein tells the story of a metaphor that continues to matter to literature, culture, aesthetics, and politics.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814797150
Publisher:
New York University Press
Publication date:
08/10/2008
Series:
America and the Long 19th Century Series
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Young is Professor of English and Gender Studies at Mount Holyoke College. She is the author of Disarming the Nation: Women's Writing and the American Civil War and co-author of On Alexander Gardner's "Photographic Sketch Book" of the Civil War.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1 United States of Frankenstein
2 Black Monsters, Dead Metaphors
3 The Signifying Monster
4 Souls on Ice
Afterword
Notes
Index
About the Author

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