Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in English, Literature



Major Advisor

Thomas Hillard, Ph.D.


Cheryl Hindrichs, Ph.D.


Jeffrey Westover, Ph.D.


This thesis examines three novels all communicating ideas about race, gender, and slavery under the conventions of Gothic literature. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables (1851) show how patriarchy oppressed and haunted women while keeping slavery at the margins. Beloved (1987), by Toni Morrison, fictionalizes the account of a female slave who murdered her child to assert her power and reject slavery. However, Morrison rewrites and defies aspects of the Gothic mode by bringing the ghost of the murdered child back to life, and later showing steps the community can take to heal from their collective trauma. The third novel, The Bondwoman’s Narrative, is assumed to have been written by Hannah Crafts around the mid-late 1850s, but not published until the 21st century. Similar to Morrison, Crafts vocalizes the terrors felt as a result of systemic oppression through her Gothic storytelling techniques but focuses on ways slavery impacted both blacks and whites. Studying these three novels together shows how these two African American female authors subverted traditional approaches to the Gothic in a way Hawthorne did not. These specific female novelists recognize how the Gothic mode can be used to provide accurate accounts of history alongside race gender, and slavery; however, they were conscious and deliberate in their choices to re-appropriate and rearrange certain aspects of the Gothic mode in a more subversive way.