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Haints, Haints, 0817317465, 0-8173-1746-5, 978-0-8173-1746-1, 9780817317461, , , Haints, 081738572X, 0-8173-8572-X, 978-0-8173-8572-9, 9780817385729,

Haints
American Ghosts, Millennial Passions, and Contemporary Gothic Fictions

Trade Cloth
2011. 168 pp.
978-0-8173-1746-1
Price:  $29.95 s
E Book
2011. 168 pp.
978-0-8173-8572-9
Price:  $29.95 d

In Haints, Arthur Redding examines the work of contemporary American authors who draw on the gothic tradition in their fiction, not as frivolous or supernatural entertainments, but to explore and memorialize the ghosts of their heritage.
 
Ghosts, Redding argues, serve as lasting witnesses to the legacies of slaves and indigenous peoples whose stories were lost in the remembrance or mistranslation of history. No matter how much Americans willingly or unwillingly repress the true history of their ancestry; their ghosts remain unburied and restless.

Such authors as Toni Morrison and Leslie Marmon Silko deploy the ghost as a means of reconciling their own violently repressed heritage with their identity as modern Americans. And just as our ancestors were haunted by ghosts of the past, today their descendents are haunted by ghosts of contemporary crises: urban violence, racial hatred, and even terrorism. In other cases that Redding studies—such as James Baldwin’s The Evidence of Things Not Seen and Toni Cade Bambara’s Those Bones Are Not My Child—gothic writers address similar crises to challenge traditional American claims of innocence and justice.
 
Finally, Redding argues that ghosts emphasize a growing worry about a larger impending crisis: the apocalypse. Yet the despair the apocalypse inspires is vital to providing the grounds for new solutions to modern issues. In the end, the armies of the dispossessed enlist the forces of the spirit world to create a better future—by ensuring that mistakes of the past are not repeated, that Americans do not deny their heritage, and that accountability exists for any given crisis.

 

 


Arthur Redding is the author of Turncoats, Traitors, and Fellow Travelers: Culture and Politics of the early Cold War (University Press of Mississippi, 2008) and Raids on Human Consciousness: Writing, Anarchism, and Violence (University of South Carolina Press, 1998).

"The specters that Redding (York Univ., Canada) stalks in this book bear no resemblance to the horrors conjured up by Horace Walpole or M. R. James. Redding's ghosts evoke the memory of the US's cultural past, suggesting that even though one may wish to lay some unsettling elements of the American heritage to rest, they will not stay buried. Redding ably demonstrates that in modern gothic works 'guilt cannot be fully assigned,' 'making enacting justice especially troublesome because the destruction of innocence is a central fact of this genre. His argument is stimulating and powerful enough to entice even reluctant students to appreciate relationships between the fiction they are assigned to read and contemporary as well as past reality. The author draws his examples from a diverse collection of writers, a group as thought provoking as his argument. Redding's style will induce the reader to think the author is addressing him or her directly, a good way to encourage enthusiasm both for the literature and for the insights it provides. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty."
CHOICE

Haints is an interesting and provocative study of manifestations of the Gothic in contemporary American culture. The writing is lively and [author’s name] deftly integrates Derridean deconstruction (Specters of Marx, largely as filtered through Avery Gordon and Eric Savoy) with contemporary cultural studies.”--Jeffrey Weinstock is professor of English at Central Michigan University.  He is the author of Scare Tactics: Supernatural Fiction by American Women and Charles Brockden Brown: A Polemical Introduction.

“Redding’s book is culturally significant and worth reading. It is an important and provocative piece of cultural analysis. What I finally like best about the book is that it connects literary study with our ethical and political lives as American citizens. He shows that contemporary American gothic writers – pessimistic as they must be -- really are concerned with how we can live our lives truthfully in the present.”--Terry Heller is Hall Professor of English at Coe College and the author of The Delights of Terror and ‘The Turn of the Screw’: Bewildered Visions, and editor of Sarah Orne Jewett's The Country of the Pointed Firs & Other Fiction.

“Redding’s study will be an important contribution to the field of gothic studies. He is very well informed critically, and yet avoids most technical jargon, so that the book could be read by the interested undergraduate as well as the specialist.”-- Charles L. Crow is Professor Emeritus of English at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He is the author of American Gothic, editor of American Gothic 1787-1916: An Anthology, and a founding member of the International Gothic Association.

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