Zombified and Traumatized: Healing in Black Women's Zombie Literature

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University of Alabama Libraries

Black women writers construct literary experiences that reflect the systems of oppression that define their American experience within the horror genre. Through their explorations of race relations in an imaginative and boundless sphere, they provide a portrayal of reality that transcends time. Yet, scholars have overlooked horror by Black women writers and failed to bring them into critical conversations about speculative fiction. This thesis aims to address this neglect by employing a multi-ideological approach to analyze African American women’s zombie literature. I situate “Cue: Change” (2011) by Chesya Burke, Dread Nation (2018) by Justina Ireland, and “The Love of a Zombie is Everlasting” (2020) by Tish Jackson as sankoffarrationist projects that reimagine the struggles and trauma African Americans experience within the systems of racism and other oppressions. The texts offer race-based cultural criticism through Afrofuturistic elements and engagements with themes of Haunting and Community. These three components support the deconstruction and reimagining of harmful Western ideologies. The ensuing reconstruction is performed by invoking Africanist philosophies to encourage identity building and racial remembering. In their literary depictions, the writers construct zombie fictions to reinterpret African American trauma. I argue that these works offer imagined pathways and possibilities for healing intergenerational trauma.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
African American literature, Afrofuturism, Community, haunting, intergenerational trauma, zombie