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Committee Chair

Cristopher Hollingsworth, Ph.D.


When the Gothic genre emerged in the late eighteenth-century, it shocked and horrified its readers—even more so if the writer of the Gothic novel was revealed to be a woman. After fifty years or so, these novels and the outrage they sparked died down and they were slowly replaced by other works—traditionally written by white men—until the second-wave feminist movement and the rise of feminist criticism in the 1960s and 1970s. A pitfall that some feminist critics fell into is that in order to be recognized as a good female writer from the eighteenth- and nineteenth- centuries, there had to be undertones of discomfort because that is what women in the 1960s and 1970s were experiencing. The problem with this thought is two-fold: it creates an anachronistic reading of eighteenth and nineteenth century texts, and it sets an unhealthy precedent that in order to be a good writer, your work must be subversive, especially if you are a woman. Without these critics, these women and their works may have been lost, but it is important that these authors and their works remain in context with their time period. The purpose of this thesis is to provide a re-historicizing of some of the Gothic novels written by women.