Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

John Peavoy

Reader 2

Thomas Koenigs

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© 2015 Tryphena Y. Liu


Because works of Gothic fiction were often disregarded as sensationalist and unsophisticated, my aim in this thesis is to explore the ways in which these works actually drew attention to real societal issues and fears, particularly anxieties around Otherness and identity and gender construction. I illustrate how the context in which authors were writing specifically influenced the way they portrayed the supernatural in their narratives, and how the differences in their portrayals speak to the authors’ distinct aims and the issues that they address. Because the supernatural ultimately became internalized in the American Gothic, peculiarly within female bodies, I focus mainly on the relationship between the supernatural and the female characters in the texts I examine. Through this historical exploration of the transformation of the supernatural, I argue that the supernatural became internalized in the American Gothic because it reflected national anxieties: although freed from the external threat of the patriarchal English government, Americans of the young republic still faced the dangers of individualism and the failure of the endeavor to establish their own government.