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Article

Something Wicked Westward Goes: Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson’s Californian Uncanny

Department of English, School of Literatures, Languages, and Cultures, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9JU, UK
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020047
Received: 26 April 2020 / Revised: 22 May 2020 / Accepted: 25 May 2020 / Published: 29 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entangled Narratives: History, Gender and the Gothic)
This essay offers a first critical reading of American author Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson’s short story “The Warlock’s Shadow” (1886), asserting that the tale appropriates historical traumas in order to navigate, and transgress, boundaries of genre and gender. The strangeness of the text’s Central Californian setting, to the narrator, precipitates a series of Gothic metamorphoses, and “The Warlock’s Shadow” engages with this transformation via a concept that this essay defines as the “Californian Uncanny”. The latter framework is a result of the specific, layered indigenous and colonial identities of post-Gold Rush California coming into contact with the unstable subjectivities of the Gothic genre. “The Warlock’s Shadow” manifests the Californian Uncanny primarily through the relationship between the home, the environment, and the “unassimilable” inhabitant. Stevenson’s text illustrates, through these images, the ways in which late-nineteenth-century American Gothic fiction has allowed the white feminine subject to negotiate her own identity, complicating the binary distinctions between Self and Other which underpin American colonialism both internally and externally. The phenomenon of the Californian Uncanny in “The Warlock’s Shadow” reflects these gendered and geographical anxieties of American identity, confronting the ghosts of the nation’s westernmost region. View Full-Text
Keywords: US American Gothic; nineteenth-century literature; US American colonialism; US American women’s literature; uncanny short fiction; Californian literature; Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson; domesticity; US American identity; late nineteenth century short stories US American Gothic; nineteenth-century literature; US American colonialism; US American women’s literature; uncanny short fiction; Californian literature; Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson; domesticity; US American identity; late nineteenth century short stories
MDPI and ACS Style

Pritzker, R. Something Wicked Westward Goes: Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson’s Californian Uncanny. Humanities 2020, 9, 47. https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020047

AMA Style

Pritzker R. Something Wicked Westward Goes: Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson’s Californian Uncanny. Humanities. 2020; 9(2):47. https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020047

Chicago/Turabian Style

Pritzker, Robyn. 2020. "Something Wicked Westward Goes: Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson’s Californian Uncanny" Humanities 9, no. 2: 47. https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020047

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