College of Liberal Arts

Department of English


Teresa A. Goddu
"Rethinking Race and Slavery in Poe Studies"

This essay seeks to broaden the parameters of the critical discussion on how race and slavery function in Poe's works. Instead of reading Poe's texts to detect his implicit stance, it calls for a more comprehensive and complex reading of slavery and race in Poe's work that situates his texts within a larger sociocultural field and at the nexus of multiple cultural discourses. Such a project depends upon reading not only an expanded canon of Poe's texts but also the conventions that circulate across his canon and between his works and antebellum culture. Specifically, it argues that his sensational fictions need to be situated within a transatlantic print culture that traded on the terror of slavery and racial caricature. By investigating how Poe's work embodies the historical contingencies of the literary marketplace developing in relation to the economic conditions of slavery and to the discursive conventions of race, Poe scholarship has the opportunity to engage with and to shape the larger field of antebellum race studies.







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