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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Gothic Literature Guide: Southern Gothic

A research guide for Gothic literature.

What is the Southern Gothic?

The Southern Gothic is an American variation on the older Gothic tradition, incorporating the older tradition's focus on macabre, bizarre events and general grotesquerie, but frequently taking place in contemporary America or the America of the recent past.

Important Works of the Southern Gothic

Joyce Carol Oates: several of Oates's novels, including With Shuddering Fall and Wonderland, have been regarded as works within the Southern Gothic tradition. (Her famous short story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" also exhibits traits of the style. Some of Oates's later work, such as Bellefleur, also lies in a Gothic vein. You can find more resources on Joyce Carol Oates at the website "Celestial Timepiece - A Joyce Carol Oates Patchwork."

Flannery O'Connor: O'Connor's fiction is one of the cornerstones of Southern Gothic literature.

Cormac McCarthy is perhaps best known for his Western novels, but several of his early works, including Outer Dark and Child of God, exhibit quintessential aspects of the Southern Gothic style.

Truman Capote: his novel Other Voices, Other Rooms is often regarded as an important work of the Southern Gothic.

Harry Crews, a Southern novelist whose grotesque and humorous novels bring the tradition of Southern Gothic up to the present.

William Faulkner, many of whose works, such as the famous story "A Rose for Emily", exhibit the characteristic Gothic interest in lurid events and places and strange mental states.