Joseph Genchi

Joseph Genchi

Profile

I am a third-year PhD 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 and satire in representations of antiblack violence and racial injustice by contemporary black authors and filmmakers. 

I am currently working as a co-editor of the upcoming issue 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.

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 for its advocacy of Open Research with a York Open Research Award in June 2021.

Background

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. 

Research interests

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. 

Publications

  • Joseph Genchi, ‘Indigenous “Authenticity” in Thomas King’s Truth and Bright Water’, WRoCAH Journal, 5 (2019).

Conferences

  • ‘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).

Research Outputs

Awards

  • 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

Qualifications

  • MA in English Literature at University of Leeds
  • BA in English Literature at Leeds Beckett University