Haunting Perennial Girlhoods: Infantilization and the Transnational American Gothic from Gilman to Césaire

Suzanne Manizza Roszak*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The Gothic conceit of American womanhood as a nightmarish form of perennial childhood assumes new layers of meaning when viewed in transnational perspective. Haunting portrayals of infantilized women-children give canonical American works like Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ an unlikely kinship with postcolonial texts like Paz’s La hija de Rappaccini and Césaire’s Une tempête. While echoing Gilman’s critique of patriarchal superstructures, Paz and Césaire also confront white women’s role in upholding systems of white supremacy, slavery, and (neo-)imperialism. Taken together, Gilman, Paz, and Césaire speak to the shifting significations and the staying power of unending Gothic girlhoods in transnational American literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalModern Language Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2022

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