Jesse Clements

Unseen Horrors: Black Feminism, Horror and the Paradoxes of Viewing

In discussions of Black feminism, works of speculative science fiction are routinely turned to as examples of radical worldbuilding and transgressive disruptions of conventional paradigms of space/time. Yet despite the horrific elements in many of these works (including, but not limited to: graphic bodily violence, supernatural creatures and apocalyptic settings) they are rarely discussed as works of “horror.” In my thesis Unseen Horrors: Black Feminism, Horror, and the Paradoxes of Viewing I suggest that horror might be a constitutive element of works of Black speculative science fiction, and thus essential to their project of dys/utopian imagining. Specifically using contemporary Black feminist theory to examine Octavia E. Butler’s Wild Seed, my research will explore the persistent entanglements of horrific present and future found in Black women’s speculative literature. Looking at contemporary horror movies, the second half of my thesis will turn towards examining the structures of viewing built into the cinematic apparatus that distinguish visual renderings of horror from its literary counterpart. Through these works I’ll explore some of the contradiction between horror as a cathartic method of storytelling and as a repetition and reipscription of violence.