I am a final-year doctoral researcher in the School of English. My project is funded by the White Rose College of Arts and Humanities. My thesis, entitled ‘Afrohorror: Racial terror and the horror genre in African American culture of the 21st century’, examines the use of horror tropes in representations of antiblack violence and racial injustice by contemporary Black authors and filmmakers.
For the academic year 2020/21, I co-directed Quilting Points within the Leeds Humanities Research Institute. Quilting Points is an interdisciplinary reading group and seminar series interested in critical and cultural theory and its relation to literature, the arts and humanities, and the social sciences. We discussed the work of the social critic, novelist, and activist, James Baldwin.
In Spring 2021, I conducted my WRoCAH Researcher Employability Project with Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. The three-month placement considered the challenges and opportunities facing Humanities Scholarly Societies as the publication landscape shifts to incorporate more Open practices. The project was recognised with a York Open Research Award in June 2021. Following this, I spoke at Open Access Week 2021 to advocate for ethical Open Research in the Humanities.
In 2021/22, I worked as a co-editor of the WRoCAH Journal, an open-access, peer-reviewed journal publishing a range of work across the Arts and Humanities from White Rose University Consortium postgraduates. Issues 6 (Spring) and 7 (Summer) are available to read now.
In 2017, I graduated from Leeds Beckett University with a First Class Honours degree in English Literature. In my final year, I was awarded the Sarah Holt Memorial Prize for my dissertation.
Following this, I studied English Literature at Masters level at the University of Leeds, focusing on modern and contemporary texts. During this time I wrote my dissertation on postcolonial and development studies in relation to the writing of Nigerian author Chris Abani. I graduated in 2018 with a distinction.
My project centres on Afrohorror, an aesthetic that has emerged following the arrival of “post-racism” and concurrent with the rise of Afropessimist criticism. My thesis identifies an affinity between the horror genre in its various forms and racial terror as depicted across cultural texts by Black authors and artists. This relationship can be traced from the Gothicism of Frederick Douglass’s ‘blood-stained gate’ of slavery, to Blues legend Robert Johnson’s encounter with the devil at the crossroads, to Toni Morrison’s haunted house in Beloved. Throughout the history of African American literature and art, horror has provided a language capable of expressing the reality of racial terror. Afrohorror texts, such as Get Out (dir. Jordan Peele, 2017), continue this tradition, marrying horror with satire to enable a self-aware critique of antiblackness.
Focusing on both literary and pop cultural texts of the 21st century, I argue that horror tropes so frequently appear in Black art because they closely resemble the real-life horror of racial injustice. Analysing these texts through the critical lens of Afropessimism, my project recognises that the reality of the US continues to be structured by ubiquitous antiblack violence, from slavery, to Jim Crow, to the Black Lives Matter era. I therefore argue that to be Black in America is essentially to exist within a horror narrative.
More broadly, my research interests include popular culture, postcolonial studies, contemporary fiction, postmodernism and metafiction, and cinema.
- Joseph Genchi, ‘Indigenous “Authenticity” in Thomas King’s Truth and Bright Water’, WRoCAH Journal, 5 (2019).
Conferences & Events
- (Upcoming) ‘Conjuring Up the Ghosts: The Slave Plantation as Haunted Space in LaTanya McQueen’s When the Reckoning Comes’. British Association for American Studies (BAAS) 2023, University of Keele (April 2023).
- (Upcoming) ‘Scary Times: The Politics of Horror in Night of the Living Dead + Q&A’. Hyde Park Picture House/City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds (January 2023).
- ‘White Fright: The terror of whiteness in Mat Johnson’s Pym’. Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association (PAMLA) 2022, University of California, Los Angeles (November 2022).
- ‘Hearing the Music: Racial terror and horror tropes in Jordan Peele’s Get Out’. British Association for American Studies (BAAS) 2022, University of Hull (April 2022).
- ‘To See is Unbearable: Antiblack violence and spectacle in Nuotama Frances Bodomo’s Everybody Dies! and Donald Glover’s This is America’. Postgraduate Research Seminar, University of Leeds (October 2020).
- ‘Becoming Elvis: The child, the nation, and development in Graceland by Chris Abani’, School of English MA Conference: Writing and the Other, University of Leeds (June 2018).
Race, Writing and Decolonisation [Level 1 core module] (2022-ongoing).
Open Research Advocacy
- Joseph Genchi, ‘Routes to Open Humanities’, Open Access Week 2021: Open research across the White Rose Universities, White Rose Libraries (October 2021).
- Joseph Genchi, Kath Burton, & Janet Remmington, ‘Open Research Values & Practice: WRoCAH REP and Routledge, Taylor & Francis’, (Zenodo, 2021).
- Special Funding for Targeted Research Panels (2022-2023), British Association for American Studies
- WRoCAH Large Award (2022), Arts & Humanities Research Council
- York Open Research Award (2021), University of York & Wellcome Trust
- WRoCAH Doctoral Studentship (2019), Arts & Humanities Research Council
- Sarah Holt Memorial Prize for Best Dissertation (2017), Leeds Beckett University
- MA in English Literature at University of Leeds
- BA in English Literature at Leeds Beckett University