Defense Date

2022

Document Type

Thesis

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Cristina Stanciu

Second Advisor

Dr. Caddie Alford

Third Advisor

Dr. Kimberly Brown

Abstract

FERTILE FRIGHT: AFRICAN AMERICAN AND INDIGENOUS MOTHERHOOD IN NORTH AMERICAN HORROR FILMS

By Jessica Casey

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Virginia Commonwealth University, 2022.

Major Director: Cristina Stanciu, Ph.D, Associate Professor in the Department of English, Director of the Humanities Research Center.

This thesis examines representations of African American and Indigenous mothers in North American horror films. Using films such as Us (2019), Ma (2019), Older Than America (2008), and Wind River (2017) as primary sources, it explores how gendered stereotypes are reinforced or subverted through the analysis of narratives of colonialism, sexual assault, and trauma, among others. I argue that common misconceptions and stereotypes like the absentee Black mother or the disappearing “Indian” are used by Hollywood, and the film industry at large, to visually reinforce racial and gendered oppressions at the economic and social detriment of Black and Indigenous women. However, when the same stereotypes or tropes are employed by filmmakers of color, they offer subversive opportunities to rewrite the narrative to one of empowerment and bodily autonomy. The analysis is grounded in and supported by critical race theory, Indigenous studies, feminist theory, film theory, and psychoanalysis. This addresses a gap in literature about the representation of African American and Indigenous mothers in contemporary horror films.

Rights

© Jessica Casey

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

12-16-2022

Available for download on Wednesday, December 15, 2027

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