Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Dr. Elizabeth Steeby

Second Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Lewis

Third Advisor

Dr. Jay Watson


Today, much scholarship on the Southern Gothic concerns itself with assessing the genre as a set of tropes confined to particular texts. This approach fails to consider how the Southern Gothic has transcended the text and infiltrated the cultural consciousness. In this thesis, I analyze William Faulkner’s 1936 novel, Absalom, Absalom!, centering on Faulkner’s idiosyncratic critique of the Southern Gothic, especially its colonial origins and use of spectacle. I apply this lens to New Orleans tours and their marketing materials, paying close attention to the spectacle in the story of enslaver Madame LaLaurie. Finally, I consider how the genre’s tropes influenced public policy and media coverage regarding Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Through this analysis, I aim to situate the Southern Gothic as more than an inert set of tropes, showing instead that this pliable genre performs cultural work that carries critical implications for race relations in the United States.


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Available for download on Tuesday, December 15, 2026