Otherworlds, doubles, houses: Helen Oyeyemi’s the opposite house and white is for witching

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Houses feature prominently in Helen Oyeyemi’s novels, The Opposite House and White Is for Witching. I describe the connection between the Greco-Roman Underworld and the Yorùbá Otherworld in Oyeyemi’s texts as a “liminal intersection”, one in which Gothic and supernatural metaphors from the Yorùbá culture are syncretised. The Gothic tropes of the House collide with Oyeyemi’s revisioning of the Yorùbá pantheon and Otherworld. Key figures and symbols from Greco-Roman folklore, Yorùbá mythology and European fairytales are either represented by characters in Oyeyemi’s novels or are present as metaphors. The problematic postcolonial Gothic relationship between competing cultural imperatives and authorities in The Opposite House and White is For Witching takes place in these liminal intersections. I connect this struggle to the idea of transgression as agency. Pursuant to this, this article interrogates the postcolonial Gothic house as a trope in the two studied texts and argues that it is a site for the enactment of liminal and hybrid transgressions as agency through the deployment of the metaphors of doubling and that of the temporal slippage between multiple realities and the findings elucidate the ways in which the House as a gateway to the Otherworld may be a site for empowerment and decolonising through transgression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-215
Number of pages15
JournalGEMA Online Journal of Language Studies
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018

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metaphor
mythology
folklore
empowerment
symbol
Gothic
Otherworld
Transgression
Liminal
Novel
Tropes

Keywords

  • Folklore
  • Helen oyeyemi
  • Mythology
  • Postcolonial gothic
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

Cite this

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abstract = "Houses feature prominently in Helen Oyeyemi’s novels, The Opposite House and White Is for Witching. I describe the connection between the Greco-Roman Underworld and the Yor{\`u}b{\'a} Otherworld in Oyeyemi’s texts as a “liminal intersection”, one in which Gothic and supernatural metaphors from the Yor{\`u}b{\'a} culture are syncretised. The Gothic tropes of the House collide with Oyeyemi’s revisioning of the Yor{\`u}b{\'a} pantheon and Otherworld. Key figures and symbols from Greco-Roman folklore, Yor{\`u}b{\'a} mythology and European fairytales are either represented by characters in Oyeyemi’s novels or are present as metaphors. The problematic postcolonial Gothic relationship between competing cultural imperatives and authorities in The Opposite House and White is For Witching takes place in these liminal intersections. I connect this struggle to the idea of transgression as agency. Pursuant to this, this article interrogates the postcolonial Gothic house as a trope in the two studied texts and argues that it is a site for the enactment of liminal and hybrid transgressions as agency through the deployment of the metaphors of doubling and that of the temporal slippage between multiple realities and the findings elucidate the ways in which the House as a gateway to the Otherworld may be a site for empowerment and decolonising through transgression.",
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