Subtropical Gothic: New Orleans and Posthuman Supernaturals in The Originals

Verena Bernardi


The rise of supernatural creatures throughout different media in the post-2000 era has resulted in a significant change of audiences’ perceptions of vampires, werewolves and witches (among others). Traditionally used to reflect human fears, lack of morals or instinct-related insufficiencies, these creatures are no longer fear-inducing monsters. Instead, their depiction tends to adopt human qualities to confront the audience with missteps and downfalls of contemporary societies and politics. This paper analyzes the television series The Originals as a supernatural mirror image of American society, where the different communities’ struggles for power and their place in New Orleans becomes a micro-cosmos for the American nation. The setting plays a crucial role in the series, which Gothicizes New Orleans to construct a space in which the characters are shown to operate in a posthuman context. This paper will clarify how the protagonists’ posthuman characteristics and their placement in the subtropical landscape of Louisiana uncovers contemporary societal concerns and brings aspects such as Urban Gothic and tropicality closer to the audiences’ reality. Ultimately, it is in the capital of the subtropical Deep South of America where the hegemonic discourse and practices of discrimination and spatial separation are reflected and challenged.

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