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Southern Gothic Literature

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Whitney Marshall

on 1 April 2015

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Transcript of Southern Gothic Literature

Southern Gothic Literature
Southern Gothic literature is a sub-genre of literature that is unique to America (especially the American South)
SG literature attempts to reveal the "real" south behind the romanticized ideals of the south.
The Grotesque
Comically or repulsively ugly or distorted.
SG literature relies on the supernatural, ironic, or unusual events to guide the plot.

It uses these to explore social issues and reveal the cultural character of the American south
SG tips stereotypes on their side and kicks them in the gut - a not-so-subtle deconstruction of stereotypes.

Sweet southern belles are mischevious and mad - chivalrous gentlemen are violent and perverse - the contented slave is angry and clever - and the Christian Preacher is manipulative and lustful.
Tipping Stereotypes
Situations, places, or characters often possess some cringe-inducing qualities that make them "grotesque"

Racial bigotry, egotistical self-righteousness, madness, decay, etc...
Sometimes the grotesque appears in the setting - something in the town, the house, the farm is bizarre, disturbing, or decaying
Deeply flawed, grotesque characters and setting are used to highlight unpleasant aspects of southern culture.

Common Elements
The "Innocent" - may or may not be broken. Often acts as a redeemer for others
An important character who is set apart from the world by a disability, or an odd way or acting/seeing the world.
Broken minds, bodies, and souls (symbolic)
Cast of Off-Kilter Characters
The Outsider
Often a character set apart from the established cultural pattern. Often ends up being a hero because their difference allows them to see new ways of doing things that ultimately bring people out of the "dark".

Sometimes may meet a terrible fate in
order to reinforce the power of the
cultural pattern
Both literal and figurative imprisonment
Racial, social, and class differences often create underlying tension that threatens, and usually does, erupt in violence.
Good vs. Evil
There is confusion about good and evil.

What does "good" actually mean? What about "evil"? How can we tell the difference?
The overall goal of Southern Gothic Literature...
is to reveal the dark, hidden truth about society...
ultimately, ripping open the lies and romantic ideals to reveal a world of cruelty, lust, perversion, and crime hidden beneath society's rules and customs.

And strangely, by revealing this darkness, leading us into the light.
Sleeping with a corpse? Definitely cringe-worthy...
Full transcript