28. Why Stephen King Still Matters

  1. Charles L. Crow
  1. Tony Magistrale

Published Online: 13 SEP 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118608395.ch28

A Companion to American Gothic

A Companion to American Gothic

How to Cite

Magistrale, T. (2013) Why Stephen King Still Matters, in A Companion to American Gothic (ed C. L. Crow), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118608395.ch28

Publication History

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

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470671870

Online ISBN: 9781118608395



  • Gothic;
  • Institutions and institutionalization;
  • Heroes and heroism;
  • Vampires;
  • Harold Bloom;
  • Popular writing;
  • American values;
  • Westerns;
  • Roland Deschain;
  • Stephen King


Stephen King, the author of over forty books of fiction, has emerged as one of the most popular writers of all time. In academe, he has also emerged as one of the most controversial writers of all time, splitting literary and cultural critics into camps distinguished by those who argue that popular writers do not produce serious art and those who are convinced that popularity does not necessarily preclude quality or substance.

This chapter makes the argument that the importance of Stephen King as an American writer is undeniable. King employs the gothic supernatural as a means for raising sociological and political concerns about the “real” world. At the same time that King should be read as a social critic of his era, he is also fiercely committed to core American values, such as his reliance on individualism and self-reliance.