“Scare Tactics is that rare academic work that’s accessible rather than purposefully opaque, and it has much to offer readers interested in American literature, gothic fiction, or uppity women.”—Bitch Magazine
The notion of “the Gothic” permeates our society’s art forms, conveying the darkest of possible tones. It is this sense of discomfort, this sudden acquaintance with the disturbing and the uncanny, which draws us towards this type of literature time and time again.
Scare Tactics, written by Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, explores the women authors who contributed to this strangely intriguing literary field. Between the end of the Civil War and roughly 1930, hundreds of uncanny tales were published by women in the periodical press and in books. These include stories by familiar figures such as Edith Wharton, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, as well as by authors almost wholly unknown to twenty-first-century readers, such as Josephine Dodge Bacon, Alice Brown, Emma Frances Dawson, and Harriet Prescott Spofford. Focusing on this tradition of female writing offers a corrective to the prevailing belief within American literary scholarship that the uncanny tale, exemplified by the literary productions of Irving, Poe, and Hawthorne, was displaced after the Civil War by literary realism.
To read Chapter 1, “The Ghost in the Parlor: Harriet Prescott Spofford, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Anna M. Hoyt, and Edith Wharton”, click here.