Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Sarah E. Turner
David P. Massell
Across the contemporary literary and cinematic marketplace there is an increasing prevalence of “Indigenous fictions”, particularly those within or adjacent to the horror genre. Historically, the representations of Indigeneity across the forms of fiction in the United States and Canada have been limited to that of colonial constructions meant to uphold European land claims and cultural dominance. These images have been proliferated through commercially successful and culturally significant novels, paintings, and films, from the early captivity narratives of the 17th century and the romantic Indian epics of the 19th century to the 20th century’s examples of the western and horror genres. The variety of ideologies and opinions informed by the stereotypes and invalidations of the “Indian” representations across the centuries of these works are still prominent in 21st century western culture.
Through analysis of the violence depicted in late 20th century horror literature and film, especially the influential works of Stephen King, that rely upon an Indigenous presence or “Indian” trope, the use of violence in Indigenous horror can be understood comparatively as a distinct movement against the colonial notions of the Indian into an enactment of scholar Gerald Vizenor’s descriptions of Postindian manifestation and cultural survivance. Through the texts of Eden Robinson and Stephen Graham Jones and the films of Jeff Barnaby, these depictions of Postindian violence are framed as either retributive, for justice, or sadistic, for pleasure, inter-narratively and contribute to the intra-narrative resistance to colonial representations. Using these historically contextualized acts of violence, Indigenous horror imagines a retribution against systems of dominance and a futurity through survivance, countering the persistent associations plaguing Indigenous identity.
Number of Pages
Hayes, Caleb, "Horror and Representation: Violence in the Construction of Postindian Literary Identities" (2023). Graduate College Dissertations and Theses. 1688.