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Creating Racialized Objects of Horror: The Black Renaissance Villain
Gothenburg University, Sweden.
2009 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

It is accepted that the roots of modern horror go back through the literary Gothic to old English poetry (in e.g. “Beowulf”), the medieval Romance, and Renaissance drama. This paper will focus on the Renaissance, and in particular on the black villain. Aaron in Titus Andronicus, Eleazar in Lust’s Dominion, Mulymumen in All’s Lost by Lust, and Raymond in The Rebellion are four of the major black villains of the period. They have been studied from the perspective of modern understandings of racial stereotypes but not of racism as based in fear. This paper will deal with the black Renaissance villain and his relationship to the literary terms ‘horror’ and ‘terror’.

In the modern art lexicon of horror, Noel Coward defines it as characterized by the existence of monsters that are both fearsome and impure, i.e. they are threatening and they violate sanctioned cultural categories in some way. From this point of view, the construction of black men as monsters becomes cognitively definable rather than simply a racial slur. A major focus will therefore be on how their threatening character as villains is gradually exposed as having connections to their blackness, a blackness which violates the expected color of human skin in an all-white society.

This paper will also go back to Ann Radcliffe’s article “On the Supernatural in Poetry” from 1826 and thus to the beginnings of modern horror criticism. She argued that horror is specific and defined while terror is ambiguous and fostered in the imagination. This theoretical perspective makes it possible to see a clear pattern in the Renaissance plays and trace a clear transition from where the black villain is associated with terror in the play to the point where he becomes seen as both the source and main object of horror.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009.
National Category
Humanities
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-5879OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-5879DiVA, id: diva2:352588
Conference
1st Global Conference, Villains and Villainy, Mansfield College, Oxford, September 19 - 21, 2009
Available from: 2010-09-21 Created: 2010-09-21 Last updated: 2018-03-23Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf