Poe, Territoriality, and the Psychology of the Wall

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paper


The map of Antebellum America was anything but fixed in Poe‘s days: beginning with the Louisiana Purchase (1803), the Westward
Expansion led to the Mexican-American war (1846-8), and the 1853 Gadsden Purchase set the southern border that remains valid today. Territory refers to a wide range of locations such as home territory, neutral zones, shared space, or rival‘s territory. For centuries, territoriality is a legal concept that prompts humans to create contracts and treaties, build walls, gates, fences and borders, or go to war with others due to competitions or conflicts over status, material or human resources. It plays a key role in home-building and nation-building, and helps create and justify different kinds of spaces. Donald E. Westlake famously notes that a Gothic story "is about a girl who gets a house", but Poe's tales present that horrors are not only linked to (patriarchal, historical, familial, financial, spatial) persecution per se. One common cause of horror is that humans become territorial and drive each other up the wall. As they cannot and will not go to the other side of the wall, they prefer to wall up the other and the self psychologically, if not physically.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020
EventThe 13th Annual International Conference on Literature - Athens, Greece
Duration: 1 Jun 20204 Jun 2020


ConferenceThe 13th Annual International Conference on Literature
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