Abstract

Abstract:

The author challenges the notion of southern ghost stories as inherently subversive. Beginning with the stories in late nineteenth-century plantation fiction, this essay explores how wealthy white southerners used the genre to redeem and remake the region's past and present. White authors' claims of fraternity with largely nameless and faceless Black contacts are central to the story and reveal how these ghost stories helped to suppress reality, in favor of mythic tales. A comparison of the planation ghost stories and ghost stories accurately attributed to Black southerners shows that rather than faithfully recording the stories or making room for the oppressed to speak, white writers of planation ghost stories made a mockery of their Black neighbors and denied their post-emancipation agency. The roots of today's southern ghost stories are vastly more diverse, and significantly less empowering, than the celebrated Southern Gothic tales.

pdf