Kinitra D. Brooks, PhD

Searching for Sycorax:

Black Women Haunting Contemporary Horror


Cover Art: Sole  Rebel

Searching for Sycorax: Black Women Haunting Contemporary Horror is a search and rescue mission that aims to find black women in contemporary horror and critique the complex ways in which they manifest as characters, as creators, and as rebels to the conventions of both horror theory and black feminist literary theory. Searching for Sycorax demonstrates the subversive presence of black women in horror through a critical analysis of four incarnations in the genre. I begin by exploring Sycorax’s characterizations in horror texts. I insist that black women horror characters are plagued by their construction as mistreated tools used to further the more careful and considerate construction of other characters. I use the trope of Shakespeare’s Sycorax—the black witch whose memory haunts The Tempest’s Prospero—as a metaphor for the absent presence of black women in horror. I continue my mission by exposing Sycorax’s absent presence in the most unlikely of environs—black feminist literary theory. I explore how the black feminist project of marking and connecting black women’s literature to the High Arts, an important revision of the Belles Lettres, actively excluded genre fiction—and for my particular area of research—horror fiction. Next, I propose a literary framework of fluid fiction, a term that describes how black women creators purposely conflate the genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror as a subversive reflection of the simultaneity of oppressions that manifest in the lives of black women. I contend that fluid fiction demonstrates a new literary avenue for the consideration of black women’s radical authorial subjectivity. Finally, I originate a syncretic theoretical horror framework that is specifically black and female—folkloric horror.  Forthcoming at Rutgers University Press