1. The Progress of Theory and the Study of the American Gothic

  1. Charles L. Crow
  1. Jerrold E. Hogle

Published Online: 13 SEP 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118608395.ch1

A Companion to American Gothic

A Companion to American Gothic

How to Cite

Hogle, J. E. (2013) The Progress of Theory and the Study of the American Gothic, in A Companion to American Gothic (ed C. L. Crow), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118608395.ch1

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 13 SEP 2013
  2. Published Print: 25 NOV 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470671870

Online ISBN: 9781118608395



  • Theory;
  • New Criticism;
  • “Old” Historicism;
  • History of Ideas;
  • Psychoanalysis;
  • Marxism;
  • Post-Structuralism;
  • Feminism;
  • New Historicism;
  • Cultural Studies


American Gothic fiction has only recently been considered worthy of serious study. Before Leslie Fiedler's Love and Death in the American Novel (1960), such works were greatly deemphasized within the assumptions of New Criticism, “Old” Historicism, the History of Ideas, and the theories of literature and culture underpinning those movements. What Fiedler and others helped bring about was enabled by quite different theories and approaches to analysis, some older and some quite new, that arose to supplant those “schools” in academic influence and in the kinds of literature they valued and found new ways to read. This essay therefore traces the changes in assumptions about and interpretations of American Gothic works that have taken place since 1960 because of resurgences in forms of Psychoanalytic and Marxist theory and the innovations also made possible by Post-Structuralism, Feminism, Gender Theory, “Queer” Theory, New Historicism, and the many different branches of Cultural Studies.