University of Florida offers class examining ‘white terror’ in Frankenstein, other classic texts

The University of Florida offers a class that examines race in the “genre of horror and its trends with a particular focus on representations of racial Otherness and racism,” including “white terror” in literary classics, like Frankenstein. 

As part of the African American Studies class, titled “Black Horror, White Terror,” students are instructed to analyze horror books and movies through the lens of “racial identity and oppression” using materials about “the power and horror of whiteness,” “black feminism” and “queering personhood,” according to a fall 2022 syllabus obtained by The College Fix

“We will also consider the relationship between horror and Black literary modes and traditions focusing on key moments that depict fears of Blackness and/or the terror associated with being Black in America,” the syllabus reads. “This course will study the works of Black authors and producers as a way to explore racial identity and oppression.”


In addition to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, readings include Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Playing in the Dark, Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years A Slave and Florence Marryat’s The Blood of the Vampire. 


Students are also required to read academic journal articles that analyze the famous works includingQueering Personhood in the Neo-Slave Narrative” and “The Power and Horror of Whiteness.”

One of the academic articles titled, “Frankenstein’s Monster and Images of Race in Nineteenth-Century Britain,” offers a “racial reading” of Frankenstein through “the Marxist and the feminist location of the novel in the social and psychological context of the times” with the thesis that “Shelley’s portrayal of her monster drew upon … contemporary attitudes towards non-whites.”

Students are asked to consider questions like how “the history of American cinema and Gothic literature contributed to the construction of racial identity, the drawing of ethnic boundaries, and affected racialized discourses?” and how “Black artists [have] used the horror aesthetic as a means of countering white constructions of Blackness in the horror/Gothicgenre?”

Although, professor, Dr. Julia Mollenthiel has a self-proclaimed interest in “social justice,” the syllabus states that “No lesson is intended to espouse, promote, advance, inculcate, or compel a particular feeling, perception, viewpoint, or belief,” in a bold, underlined statement. 


Gov. DeSantis’ Press Secretary Bryan Griffin told Fox News Digital that discrimination will not be tolerated in Florida and even “Without knowing the specifics of this particular course … universally: no disclaimer will make discrimination permissible.”

Florida’s STOP WOKE Act specifically prohibits discrimination at any public education institution “on the basis of race, color, national origin, or sex” or from subjecting “any student or employee to training or instruction that espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels such student or employee to believe” that members of a particular race, sex or national origin are superior to another, that some people are inherently racist, that moral character is dictated by race, that only certain races are worthy of respect, that certain races deserve discrimination or that a person must feel guilt or anguish because of their race. 

“Governor DeSantis is committed to ensuring Florida’s higher education is free from discriminatory harassment as articulated above, free from historical falsehoods like CRT, and free from political agenda-seeking, as perpetrated by the DEI bureaucracy,” he told Fox News Digital. “These things will be cut off and wither on the vine in Florida.”

Mollenthiel also teaches classes on Black Feminist Theory, Black Women Transatlantic and Afro-Futurism, according to the university website. She wrote her dissertation at the University of Miami under the same name as the class and has a subsequent book, which is also titled “Black Horror, White Terror” coming out this year. 

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