The Haunting Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe

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  • Title: The Haunting Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe: Mystery and History
  • Author(s): Mabel Deane Khawaja
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: New Directions in the Humanities
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Literary Humanities
  • Keywords: Race Relations, Disenfranchised Populations, Slave Rebellions, Colonial Hegemony, Racial Amalgamation
  • Volume: 16
  • Issue: 2
  • Year: 2018
  • ISSN: 2327-7912 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-8676 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Khawaja, Mabel Deane . 2018. "The Haunting Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe: Mystery and History." The International Journal of Literary Humanities 16 (2): 1-13. doi:10.18848/2327-7912/CGP/v16i02/1-13.
  • Extent: 13 pages


Edgar Allan Poe enjoys an enduring legacy in the United States, with historical landmarks connected to his penmanship and adaptations of his works continuing to appear in print and on screen. Poe proclaims his quest for “originality” in his work “Philosophy of Composition,” and his creative genius empowers him to traverse traditional social and national constraints. Unlike his pro-slavery contemporaries and the Abolitionists, his fiction and poetry introduce racial discourse with subtle discretion and unique autonomy. His gripping command over the literary genre of mystery intertwines the antebellum historical context of race relations into horror stories; cloaked in his ambivalent symbols are the heightened fears of racial violence and rebellion promoted by the institutions of slavery and colonial hegemony. Inspired by his own experience as an orphan and dispossessed child in a patriarchal society, Poe sets up vivid contrasts between the powerful and the disempowered. His plots are layered with allegorical mechanisms and dark images that encapsulate racial diversity and interracial entanglements of his time. Poe’s prophetic vision encompasses the haunting influence of disenfranchised populations and the imminent transformation of the cultural landscape for future generations, giving relevance to his works in the twenty-first century on questions of race relations and social justice.