Date of Completion


Thesis Type

College of Arts and Science Honors



First Advisor

Valerie Rohy


This thesis will examine how the idyllic version of America, and the dream of an agrarian South are ripped apart in southern gothic texts. Using the grotesque to expose the consequences of the region’s shameful history of racism, classism, and patriarchal values, it becomes evident that Southern Gothic authors were haunted by the brutal past of the American South. Arguably two of the most famous Southern Gothic writers, William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor use grotesque writing in order to expose the traumas of an American, Southern past. As evident in their own novels, this past haunts the present that Faulkner and O’Connor were writing in. By basing their writing so deeply within grotesque devices, they are able to expose a number of once-hidden, brutal truths. Specifically, the reality of slavery, oppressive patriarchy, and how these ended up impacting a postbellum South. At the heart of this thesis lies the idea that grotesque devices of Southern Gothic literature serve to exemplify the considerable repressions of a cruel, traumatizing history that the American South would rather stay buried.