2. Gothic, Theory, Dream

  1. Charles L. Crow
  1. David Punter

Published Online: 13 SEP 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118608395.ch2

A Companion to American Gothic

A Companion to American Gothic

How to Cite

Punter, D. (2013) Gothic, Theory, Dream, in A Companion to American Gothic (ed C. L. Crow), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118608395.ch2

Publication History

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

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470671870

Online ISBN: 9781118608395



  • America;
  • Gothic;
  • Dream;
  • H.P. Lovecraft;
  • Charles Brockden Brown;
  • Edgar Allan Poe;
  • Cormac McCarthy;
  • Bob Dylan;
  • Derek Walcott;
  • Toni Morrison


This essay seeks to explore questions of space, place and time in the American Gothic. It does so by confronting “America” as a site of hybridity, where surfaces and depths intermingle. American Gothic has a complex relation to European Gothic, as it also does to America's own “pasts,” whether those involve colonialism, slavery, or more simply the transplantation from one culture to another. By looking at work by Stephen King, Charles Brockden Brown, Toni Morrison, Derek Walcott, Cormac McCarthy and Bob Dylan, it takes us on a journey through the palimpsestic territory which is “America,” exploring as it does so the relations between dream and history in American culture and the peculiar but also constitutive “takes” which Gothic has on the American predicament. “Making it new” may seem antithetical to the traditional purposes and structures of the Gothic; but in fact, confronted all the time with the haunting of occluded past histories, there is a particular urgency in the American context behind Gothic's continual attempts to address problematic questions of history, the inevitable underpinning of any attempt to move beyond the past while not succumbing to the pretense that it can be conveniently buried or left behind.