Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Thomas Koenigs

Reader 2

Aaron Matz

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Most critical discourse on contemporary Gothic children's literature centers psychoanalytical interpretations of child protagonists, often at the expense of analyzing secondary characters––including parent characters––as separate entities with their own motives and significations. In this paper I seek to expand upon the very little existing criticism dealing with parenthood in contemporary Gothic children’s literature by looking at depictions of parental figures in Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, a 2008 novel for middle-grade readers about an orphaned human boy raised by the ghosts and other supernatural occupants of a graveyard. The novel's consistent doubling of its antagonist with its most significant parental figure highlights keenly felt anxieties about over-parenting and exposes the destructive power of an older generation deeply afraid of being one day usurped by its children. By situating my analysis in the context of our twenty-first century moment, I aim to draw out the ways in which The Graveyard Book uses a distinctly Gothic lens to reflect on and engage with contemporary attitudes towards childhood and parenthood.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.