• 'Gigan­tic Para­dox, Too … Mon­strous for Solu­tion': Night­mar­ish Democ­racy and the School­house Gothic in "William Wil­son" and The Secret His­tory

    Author(s):
    Sherry Truffin (see profile)
    Date:
    2013
    Group(s):
    American Literature, Gothicists, Horror
    Subject(s):
    American literature, Education, Gothic
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Tag(s):
    Edgar Allan Poe, gothic literature
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6N78G
    Abstract:
    To review the history of the Gothic as a counter-Enlightenment discourse, albeit an ambivalent one, is to see the suitability, if not the inevitability, of the Gothic treatment of education and educators. Presumably benign institutions, schools may seem more like unfeeling bureaucracies, brainwashing factories, militaristic zones, or lawless waste lands. Ostensibly democratizing, leveling meritocracies that create conditions for social mobility and prepare students for citizenship in an egalitarian nation, American schools nevertheless remain resistant to democracy and often reproduce rather than challenge the existing class structure. They may, therefore, appear frustratingly classless to the elite and forbiddingly or tantalizingly aristocratic to the middle or working classes. Such tensions animate two works of the Schoolhouse Gothic, Edgar Allan Poe’s “William Wilson” (1839) and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History (1991), texts whose protagonists emerge from school damaged and dangerous, texts in which the promise of democratizing education becomes a grimly parodic threat.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Book chapter    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    3 months ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved

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