24. The Strange Case of Joyce Carol Oates

  1. Charles L. Crow
  1. Gavin Cologne-Brookes

Published Online: 13 SEP 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118608395.ch24

A Companion to American Gothic

A Companion to American Gothic

How to Cite

Cologne-Brookes, G. (2013) The Strange Case of Joyce Carol Oates, in A Companion to American Gothic (ed C. L. Crow), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118608395.ch24

Publication History

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

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470671870

Online ISBN: 9781118608395



  • Autobiography;
  • Doppelgänger;
  • Dostoevsky;
  • Feminism;
  • Genre;
  • Nietzsche;
  • Parody;
  • Postmodernism;
  • Pseudonym;
  • Psychopath


While the work of Joyce Carol Oates exudes the ideals of American Pragmatism she also has a distinctly Gothic side. Her fascination with the self often leads to explorations of the doppelgänger theme, and this extends to the fact that she writes under the pseudonyms, Lauren Kelly and Rosamond Smith. Her fascination with the Gothic is evident in her essays, novels and memoirs, but her stories provide us with some of her most fantastic worlds. Her Gothicism can be explicit but is often implicit. She makes use of the genre's more traditional elements, such as remote houses, castles, phantoms, the demonic and the abject, yet also deploys a Gothic realism, hinting at a darker side to ordinary lives, interior worlds that suggest the imagination to be as fantastical as it is rational, and the weirdness that can lurk in everyday phenomena.