The postcolonial Gothic: Haunting and historicity in the literature after empire
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In my dissertation, The Postcolonial Gothic: Haunting and Historicity in the Literature after Empire , I engage in a comparative analysis of colonial and postcolonial literatures that can be read as Gothic because they harbor within themselves themes of spectrality, repressed trauma, and the out of jointness of time. The basis for my comparison is recent critical theory, particularly the works of Jacques Derfda, Sigmund Freud, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari who offer critical awareness of what it means to live with--or how to exorcise--the phantoms that haunt us. This dissertation, accordingly, takes a very powerful and universal figure for human experience--the ghost--and studies its recurrence in colonial and postcolonial relationships. I follow this spirit--which manifests itself in many forms--as it floats through colonial history. The frequency of ghosts and vampires in postcolonial narratives functions as a response against British and other colonial writers who used similar imagery in their representation of the Other during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Postcolonial Gothic first traces a genealogy of the phantom in British literature, starting from Defoe's Robinson Crusoe , through to its imitators in Victorian boys' stories, stopping at the Brontes' creation of colonial fantasy worlds in their juvenilia. The second part of the dissertation turns to postcolonial literature where there is a deep problematization, mimicry, and perversion of the ghost--of these Gothic images--by writers such as J. M. Coetzee, Derek Walcott, and Toni Morrison. The Postcolonial Gothic is, then, a literary sea journey across colonial space and time--an examination of what Derek Walcott calls the Sea as a crypt that possesses and locks away history--a slow tour of the ghosts and detritus of colonialism and the consequent hauntings that structure and plague postcolonialism.