This essay argues that contemporary African American novels turn to the gothic in order to dramatize the uncanny infrastructural and spatial afterlives of the plantation through a literary strategy it identifies as geomemory: a genre friction between mimetic and gothic modes in which postplantation spaces in the US South are imbued with temporal slippages such that past and present meet through the built environment. Tracing the plantation’s environmental and infrastructural presence in the Gulf Coast and throughout the US South, this essay argues that the plantation’s presence is fundamentally gothic. Geomemory, a trope evident across the emerging canon of contemporary African American fiction, allows writers to address the representational challenge of infrastructural and spatial violence via a defamiliarizing chronotope in which past, present, and future come into uneasy contact. Further, geomemory’s particular enmeshment with spatial design and infrastructure means that it moves from identifying the modern afterlife of the plantation to situating the present in the long context of plantation modernity.

You do not currently have access to this content.