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Southern Gothic. Literature. Background. Sub-genre of the Gothic style Popular in Europe in 1800s Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Dracula by Bram Stoker Unique to American literature relies on supernatural, ironic, or unusual events to guide the plot

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southern gothic

Southern Gothic

Literature

background
Background
  • Sub-genre of the Gothic style
    • Popular in Europe in 1800s
      • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
      • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Unique to American literature
    • relies on supernatural, ironic, or unusual events to guide the plot
    • explores and reveals social issues concerning the cultural character of the American South.
background3
Background
  • Takes classic Gothic archetypes, such as the monster or the heroic knight, and turns them into American Southerners
    • Dark twist on Southern characters
      • Southern belle as town tramp
      • Righteous preacher

as pedophile

  • “grotesque”
    • a character whose negative qualities allow the author to highlight unpleasant aspects in southern culture.
    • Something in the town, the house, the farm is bizarre and often falling apart
defining feature
Defining Feature
  • Cast of ‘off-kilter’ characters
    • Broken bodies, minds, or souls
      • symbolizes problems created by the established pattern
      • questions established pattern’s morality and ethical justification
    • “Innocent” as common character, who may or may not be “broken,” but who often acts as a redeemer for others
other specific features
Other Specific Features
  • Freakishness
  • Outsider
  • Imprisonment
  • Violence
  • Sense of Place
freakishness
Freakishness
  • In most southern gothic stories, there is an important character who is set apart from the world by in a negative way by a disability or an odd, and often negative way of seeing the world.
outsider
Outsider
  • characters are set a part from the established cultural pattern, but end up being heroes
    • difference allows them to see new ways of doing things that ultimately help to bring people out of the “dark.”
imprisonment
Imprisonment

Both literal and figurative

  • Often includes incident where a character is sent to jail or imprisoned
  • Some characters live in fate\'s prison.
violence
Violence
  • Racial, social, and class differences often create underlying tension, oftentimes, erupting in violent ways
sense of place
Sense of Place
  • Clear depiction of rural southern setting
    • Old small towns
      • Creaky front porches with rocking chairs
      • Old downtown with stately but worn-down buildings
notable southern gothic lit
Notable Southern Gothic Lit.
  • Bastard Out of Carolina
  • Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Streetcar Named Desire
  • A Rose for Emily
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