Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School

English and Interdisciplinary Studies

First Advisor

Steve Wingate


Though Gothicism has evolved since its inception in the eighteenth century, its most common tropes—such as deteriorating settings, supernatural figures, and foreboding atmospheres—have remained integral to the genre. While, the following fictional collection, Middle American Gothic, draws inspiration from these familiar Gothic tropes, it substitutes the grandeur of crumbling castles, monasteries, and sprawling estates for a common town within the rural Midwest. Similarly, while the collection nods to the existence of supernatural beings, none of its stories actually rely on anything otherworldly as a source of terror. Its setting, while not traditionally Gothic, features a series of decaying, outdated homes that mirror the town’s aging population in their physique and in their conservative beliefs. Likewise, rather than relying on traditionally frightening supernatural figures, each story within Middle American Gothic derives terror from the monstrous actions of people who are loyal to regressive sociopolitical attitudes. In this way, Middle American Gothic functions both as a collection of modern Gothic fiction and as a critique of the prevailing, restrictive attitudes common within the rural Midwest. The critical afterword that follows the collection subsequently examines the ways in which the various characters and settings in each individual story fit within the larger scope of the Gothic genre. In doing so, this afterword looks not only at the ways in which the collection is distinctly Gothic but at the instances in which it challenges and progresses the genre.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Gothic fiction (Literary genre)
Gothic fiction (Literary genre), American.
Short stories.
Gothic fiction.

Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright