A former English Teacher, Jesse is the LGBTQ Coordinator at Utah Tech University pursuing both his passion for social justice work and independent scholarship. When he is away from his institutional duties and community outreach, they engage in research topics anchored around the EcoGothic, MidWestern, Rural, and Film Studies.
Labeling one a monster is itself the act of dehumanizing a population or force wherein the labelers gain power over whomever/whatever they aim to vilify. For example, think of Dr. Frankenstein renouncing his responsibilities as a father by declaring his creation as a monster instead of his son. Ghosts are also not spectral forces of nature that come from nowhere, but are instead supernatural representatives of disenfranchised folks striving to be heard in death since they were muted in life.
Much remains to discuss, but for the purpose of this publication, the Gothic is not so much about scary elements but rather how disempowering one group leads to said group becoming a monster to either assert its existence or by those aiming to assert control over them.
Gothic Humanization, a term I created, is then the act of readers seeing past the imagery we’ve been conditioned to fear and instead empathizing with the disenfranchised labeled as scary. Gothic Humanization is then a principle, a gift from what scares us to help ease tensions birthed from an “us versus them” mentality that spans across genres and fields of work: heroes and villains, soldiers and enemies, as well as the marginalized and the police. The United States is perhaps more divided than ever as it and nations across the globe wrestle with resolving generational crimes in lieu of the comforts bred by such inequality, yet my hope is that the book recommendations below serve as practice grounds for us to help students learn the empathy necessary to ease instead of exacerbate the tensions that vilify all of us.
Where the overall plot mirrors much of action manga, the story separates itself by humanizing its monstrous antagonists. Without giving spoilers, never have I felt more empathy nor more compassion for monsters passing on to hell for their murderous crimes. As the departed take their final steps, I dare say that the demon is left behind and the human is laid bare onto Hell’s flames, and that is why I set aside space for a potentially eye-opening read for both teachers and students looking for an independent read.
Weinstock, J. A. (2017). Introduction: The awareness gothic. In J. A. Weinstock (Ed), The Cambridge companion to American Gothic (pp. 1-12). Cambridge University Press.