This LibGuide is all about the Southern Gothic genre.
Explore famous photography, quotes, movies, and even television shows based on Southern Gothic literature.
Click on the link below an author's photograph to view which of their works we have at MPL!
Many literary critics in the 19th and 20th-century did much to discredit the Gothic genre. Because Gothic authors, like Edgar Allan Poe, were writing works that didn't appeal to the masses, literary scholars and critics tried to cheapen the genre. Critics thought Gothic, "was an inferior genre incapable of high seriousness" and appealed to readers "of questionable tastes."
Poe's, along with other Gothic writers' works, were exiled to the critics believed it belonged: the unenlightened South. But even scholars and critics of southern literature weren't impressed with what they found in Gothic works. "Aimless violence" and "dreadful" were the verdicts from some critics.
T.S. Stribling, Thomas Wolfe, William Faulkner, and Erskine Caldwell, well-established writers from the South were later labeled as "merchants of death, hell and the grave" and "horror-mongers in chief." by critic Gerald Johnson because of their work's subject matter. Johnson's article which included such excerpts was titled The Horrible South.
Tennessee Williams, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright from Mississippi whose work was inspired by his time in New Orleans lashed back at critics. In his introduction to Carson McCullers's Reflections in a Golden Eye, he responded to the critics who questioned the Southern Gothic subgenre. He, himself, asks "Why do they write about such dreadful things?"
Williams responded: "The great difficulty of understanding, and communication, lies in the fact that we who are asked this question and those who ask it do not really inhabit the same universe."
Southern Gothic has evolved through the years and has even branched out to subgenres of fiction such as: Southern Lit, Grit Lit, Appalachian Noir, Southern Paranormal, Country Noir, "White Trash" Lit, and many more. Just have a look for yourself. All that to say: Southern Gothic and Southern Literature in general has become widely accepted and even lauded. As more and more Southern-born writers hit the mainstream, the more exposure the subgenre will receive.
According to the Oxford Research Encyclopedia, Southern Gothic, "is a mode or genre prevalent in literature from the early 19th century to this day. Characteristics of Southern Gothic include the presence of irrational, horrific, and transgressive thoughts, desires, and impulses; grotesque characters; dark humor, and an overall angst-ridden sense of alienation."