Telling an American Horror Story

Essays on History, Place and Identity in the Series


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About the Book

This volume collects essays from new and established critics looking at the many ways horror anthology series American Horror Story intersects with and comments on contemporary American social, political and popular culture. Divided into three sections, the chapters apply a cultural criticism framework to examine how the first eight seasons of AHS engage with American history, our contemporary ideologies and social policies. Part I explores the historical context and the uniquely-American folklore that AHS evokes, from the Southern Gothic themes of Coven to connections between Apocalypse and anxieties of modern American youth. Part II contains interpretations of place and setting that mark the various seasons of the anthology. Finally, Part III examines how the series confronts notions of individual and social identity, like the portrayals of destructive leadership in Cult and lesbian representation in Asylum and Hotel.

About the Author(s)

Cameron Williams Crawford is a senior lecturer at the University of North Georgia in Gainesville. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Leverett Butts teaches American literature at the Gainesville campus of the University of North Georgia. He lives in Carrollton, Georgia.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Cameron Williams Crawford and Leverett Butts

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 230
Bibliographic Info: appendices, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8061-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4177-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Cameron Williams Crawford and Leverett Butts 1

Part I. History and Folklore
Asylum: Taboos and Transgressions in U.S. History
Erin Guydish Buchholz 8
Where Myth Meets History: Discursive Haunting and the Resurrection of Marie Laveau in Coven
Rita Mookerjee 26
Coven’s LaLaurie and Laveau: Contemporary Narratives of Southern Gothicism, Folklore and Nineteenth-Century New Orleans
Tammie Jenkins 39
Apocalypse and the Devil We Are
Leverett Butts 54

Part II. Space and Place
Derridean Hauntology as Cultural Praxis: The Strange Case of Murder House
Jonathan Greenaway 66
The Psychiatric Clinic in Horror Cinema and TV: Asylum
Antonio Sanna 81
The Swampy Boundaries of “Otherness” in Freak Show and Roanoke
Cameron Williams Crawford 100
The ­Meta-Carnival: Monsters and Mothers in Freak Show
Jennifer K. Cox 112

Part III. Identity Politics
The ­Mother-Witch and Witch as Mother in Coven
Sarah Foust Vinson 134
Wear Something Black: Fashion and Fierce Femininity in the Witch Drag of Coven
Michelle L. Pribbernow 148
Destructive Leadership in Coven, Freak Show and Cult
Corrine E. Hinton 164
The Lesbian Gothic in Asylum and Hotel
Tosha R. Taylor 189

Appendix I. List of Episodes 207
Appendix II. List of Major Characters 212
About the Contributors 217
Index 219