Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-546b4f848f-hhr79 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-06-03T22:38:56.570Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

4 - Settlement and Imperialism

from Part I - Histories

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 July 2022

Stephen Shapiro
University of Warwick
Mark Storey
University of Warwick
Get access


This chapter shows how, from Charles Brockden Brown’s Edgar Huntly to Jeff Barnaby’s Blood Quantum, American horror erupts out of the violence performed on indigenous people by white settler society, on people and land on the slavery plantation, and on citizens in the Global South and Middle East during period when the United States has extended and protected American global hegemony. By reading American colonialism and neo-imperialism as central to American extractivist capitalism, the chapter reveals how American horror also narrates the devastating violence done to the planet itself. The chapter observes that much American horror produced by and for white settler society represents settler violence against people and land as justified and regenerative, but it also discusses a number of less reactionary texts that make plain the horrific violence inherent in the capitalist colonial project.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Works Cited

Barnard, Philip, and Shapiro, Stephen. “Introduction.” In Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Huntly; or, Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker: With Related Texts. New York: Hackett Publishing, 2006. ixxlii.Google Scholar
Bergland, Renée L. The National Uncanny: Indian Ghosts and American Subjects. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2000.Google Scholar
Brantlinger, Patrick. Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism, 1830–1914. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988.Google Scholar
Brown, Charles Brockden. Edgar Huntly; or, Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker: With Related Texts. 1799. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing, 2006.Google Scholar
Crosby, Alfred W. Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900–1900, 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Defoe, Daniel. The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. 1719. London: Henry Lea, 1850.Google Scholar
Duncan, Rebecca, and Cumpsty, Rebekah. “Introduction: The Body in Postcolonial Fiction after the Millennium.Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 22, no. 5 (2020): 587605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dunlap, Thomas R. “Remaking the Land: The Acclimatization Movement and Anglo Ideas of Nature.” Journal of World History 8, no. 2 (1997): 303–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fiedler, Leslie A. Love and Death in the American Novel. New York: Stein and Day, 1960.Google Scholar
Goddu, Teresa A. Gothic America: Narrative, History, and Nation. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.Google Scholar
Haraway, Donna. “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin.Environmental Humanities 6, no. 1 (2015): 159–65.Google Scholar
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown and Other Tales. 1835. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.Google Scholar
Hodes, Martha. Sex, Love, Race: Crossing Boundaries in North American History. New York: New York University Press, 1999.Google Scholar
Höglund, Johan. The American Imperial Gothic: Popular Culture, Empire, Violence. Farnham: Ashgate, 2014.Google Scholar
Höglund, Johan. “Imperial Horror and Terrorism.” In The Palgrave Handbook to Horror Literature, ed. Corstorphine, Kevin and Kremmel, Laura R.. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. 327–37.Google Scholar
Jackson, Robert. “A Southern Sublimation: Lynching Film and the Reconstruction of American Memory.” The Southern Literary Journal 40, no. 2 (2008): 102–20.Google Scholar
Keetley, Dawn. We’re All Infected”: Essays on AMC’s the Walking Dead and the Fate of the Human. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2014.Google Scholar
Koch, Alexander, et al. “Earth System Impacts of the European Arrival and Great Dying in the Americas after 1492.” Quaternary Science Reviews 207 (2019): 1336.Google Scholar
Löfflmann, Georg. “Hollywood, the Pentagon, and the Cinematic Production of National Security.” Critical Studies on Security 1, no. 3 (2013): 280–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lovecraft, H. P. The Colour Out of Space. 1927. London: Read & Co., 2020.Google Scholar
Marzec, Robert P. “Enclosures, Colonization, and the Robinson Crusoe Syndrome: A Genealogy of Land in a Global Context.” boundary 2 29, no. 2 (2002): 129–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McCarthy, Cormac. Blood Meridian, or The Evening Redness in the West. 1885. London: Picador Classic, 215.Google Scholar
McLeman, Robert, and Smit, Barry. “Migration as an Adaptation to Climate Change.” Climatic Change 76, nos. 1–2 (2006): 3153.Google Scholar
Mogen, David, Sanders, Scott Patrick, and Karpinski, Joanne B. Frontier Gothic: Terror and Wonder at the Frontier in American Literature, ed. Mogen, David, Sanders, Scott P., and Karpinski, Joanne B.. Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1992.Google Scholar
Moore, Jason W. Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital. London and New York: Verso, 2015.Google Scholar
Moore, Jason W.The Rise of Cheap Nature.” In Anthropocene or Capitalocene?: Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism, ed. Moore, Jason W.. Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2016. 78115.Google Scholar
Morrison, Toni. Playing in the Dark. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992.Google Scholar
Neeson, Jeanette M. Commoners: Common Right, Enclosure and Social Change in England, 1700–1820. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Newitz, Annalee. Pretend We’re Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop Culture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Poe, Edgar Allan. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. 1838. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2010.Google Scholar
Rony, Fatimah Tobing. The Third Eye: Race, Cinema, and Ethnographic Spectacle. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996.Google Scholar
Shapiro, Stephen. “Transvaal, Transylvania: Dracula’s World-System and Gothic Periodicity.” Gothic Studies 10, no. 1 (2008): 2947.Google Scholar
Stoler, Ann Laura. “Imperial Debris: Reflections on Ruins and Ruination.” Cultural Anthropology 23, no. 2 (2008): 191219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Turner, Frederick Jackson. “The Significance of the Frontier in American History.” 1893. In The Frontier in American History. New York: Henry Holt, 1920. 138.Google Scholar
Vitale, Alex S. The End of Policing. London: Verso, 2017.Google Scholar
Wallerstein, Immanuel. The Decline of American Power: The US in a Chaotic World. New York: New Press, 2003.Google Scholar
Wolfe, Patrick. “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native.” Journal of Genocide Research 8, no. 4 (2006): 387409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Worster, Donald. Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s. 1979. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.Google Scholar
Yelling, James Alfred. Common Field and Enclosure in England 1450–1850. Basingstoke: Macmillan Press, 1977.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats