Haunted by the specters of racial traumathe emmett till case in us fiction

  1. Martín Fernández Fernández
Dirixida por:
  1. Constante González Groba Director

Universidade de defensa: Universidade de Santiago de Compostela

Ano de defensa: 2021

  1. Carme Manuel Presidente/a
  2. Susana M. Jiménez Placer Secretario/a
  3. Urszula Niewiadomska Flis Vogal
  1. Departamento de Filoloxía Inglesa e Alemá

Tipo: Tese


This dissertation analyzes the different ways of coming to terms with the traumatic Emmett Till case in US fiction. The 1955 gruesome lynching of the fourteen-year-old black youth in the Mississippi Delta raised a cultural trauma in the US collective imaginary that particularly pierced the African American community. To explore the individual and collective responses to the infamous case, my study focuses on the three major novels inspired by the tragic incident: Bebe Moore Campbell’s "Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine" (1992), Lewis Nordan’s "Wolf Whistle" (1993), and Bernice L. McFadden’s "Gathering of Waters" (2012). My critical analysis of these narratives is imbued with a theoretical framework mainly based on trauma theory but also influenced by spectrality studies and black studies. With the above premises in mind, my dissertation argues that fiction provides a better understanding of the real impact of the Emmett Till trauma on the US collective imaginary and, second, that fiction can have a decisive impact on writers and readers and how they can come to terms with trauma. Such an examination is initially underpinned by a broad contextualization of the long history of racist violence in the US that, starting in the present to evince the roots of the current racist ideology, pulls at its fatal thread back to the conditions that brought about Till’s infamous killing. Ultimately, my study considers the existing interrelations and divergences between race, class, and gender with regard to trauma that intersect across the three main novels based on the Emmett Till case.