Famous painting created by American artist Grant Wood in 1930. It depicts two grim-faced farmers, a man and his spinster daughter, standing in front of their home. The man holds a pitchfork, and the house is built in what was called the "gothic carpenter" style. The painting was influenced by the German and Dutch primitive painters who Wood studied while traveling in Europe. It includes fine details, particularly in the architecture of the farmhouse.

The painting was an immediate sensation and transformed Wood into a celebrity. In fact, the painting remains one of the most famous--and most frequently parodied--American paintings ever.

If I remember my art history, the models for the painting were Wood's sister and his dentist.
Perhaps one of the most famous and celebrated pictures in American history is Grant Wood's work entitled "American Gothic", so named for the carpenter gothic style house in the background. Wood came across the house in August, 1930 in the little town of Eldon, Iowa. For the image, Wood's sister is Nan and Dentist Dr. Byron McKeeby both posed idividually in front of the house, on seperate sittings. When he finished the painting, he submitted it to a juried exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago, where it remains today. It took home a bronze, and a prize of $300.00.

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM  MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM  MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMP",,`4MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMP",d$$hc`4MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMP",c$P" "$$.`4MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMP",c$F ,d$b "?hc`4MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM" zd$F , $??$$ ."$h.`4MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMP z$$P",d$ ".."? $c,"?h.'"4MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMPPPPPMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMP',d$P",d$F ,d$$hc ?$$c "$$c,"MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMPP""_.,zccccccc,.`"4MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMP',d$P", $P",d$F  "$$.`?$ c "?$c 4MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMP".,c$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$L. "4MMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM" z$$P"zd$ ",c$P".!!. "$c," $$c,"?$c,"4MMMMMMMMMP" cd$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$c,   "4MMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM",c$$" z$$$$ ,$$"?,`!!',d"?$c $$$$h `$$c,"4MMMMMP" ,$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$c    "MMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM".z$$P" $$$$$',$$',,"?,,c",, ?$r`$$$$ c,"$$h."4MMP  ,d$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$h   "MMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMP".z$P".zd $$$$$ $$F,!!,`$$',!!,`$$ $$$$ $$c "$$c "M ' $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$L   )MMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMP",c$P",c$$$ $$$$$ $$ !!!! $$ !!!! $$ $$$$ $$$$c`?$$c d$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$r  \  MMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMP",c$P". $$$$$ $$$$$ $$ !!!! $$ !!!! $$ $$$$ $$$$$L ."$" $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$L '  )MMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM",c$$",cP $$$$$ $$$$$ $$ !!!! $$ !!!! $$ $$$$ $$$$$$ $c, '<$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$F;,?'MMMMM
MMMMMMMP".,..,.."44MMP""`" z$$P"z$$$$ $$$$$ $$$$$ $$ ```` $$ ```` $$ $$$$ $$$$$$ $$$ !d$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$h !! MMMMM
MMMMP",c$$$$$$$$$$hc .zd" =$$P"zd$$$$ $$$$$ $$$$$ $$ """""$$"""""`$$ $$$$ $$$$$$ $$$ !$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ `! )MMMM
P".. z$$$$$$$$$$??"".iic=   c;,_`""$$ $$$$$ $$$$$ $$ !!!! $$ !!!! $$ $$$$ $$$$$$ $$$ !<$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$P"""?$$$$> `\4MMMM
z$P c$$$$$$$P"..;;z$???id$?? "$$??c," $$$$$ $$$$$ $$ !!!! $$ !!!! $$ $$$$ $$$$$$ $$$ !`$$$$$$??""":$$$$$$$$$P""      ?$$$' _.."\4M
"",c$$$$$$P",d$;d$??ic???icd$ $$h>??h.`?$$$ $$$$$ $$ !!!! $$ !!!! $$ $$$$ $$$$$$ """ ! $$$$"     `"??$$$$$$P".-====. `?$$"zF". "4M
$.`?$$$$$",d$$$$$Lz$$$;d??""_.""?$$c<?> ?$$ $$$$$ $$ !!!! $$ !!!! $$ $$$$ $$$$$$ ,??c, <$$F.- .   "? `$???".="    c ?c`P z$F<$.`dM
$$c ?$$$"z$$$$$$$$$$$$P",c$$$$$cc,`"?h<? ?$ $$$$$ $$ !!!! $$ !!!! $$ $$$$ $$$$$$ F,c$$L ""._ `?   " .. zcr $c,"   .zd$- d$F  ?h MM
$$$h."$",$$$$$$$$$$$P"zd$$$$$$$$$$$c`??\h`$ $$$$$ $$ ```` $$ ```` $$ $$$$ $$$$$$ `,$F,$$c ?$$ccccc$$$F,$$$. "$$$$$$$$P .$$ h dF,MM
"""""  ,$"?$$$$$$$P",d$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$h ?\-' $$$$$ $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ $$$$ $$$$$$ .`$L`$ ?c "$$$$$$$$" d$$$r   $$$$$$" .<$$ ".P dMM
!!!!!>.P";$$$$$$$" d$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ \?. $$$$$ """""""""""""""""" $$$$ $$$$$$ $.`$.`L`$h.`"?$??"",$$$$$F ?c,`""_,c$F<$P $P nMMM
!!!!! ';c$$$$$$$",d$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$L ;; $$$$$$ $$$$$ $$$$$ $$$$ $$$$$ $$$$$$ $$c`?$$.?$$$ccccc$$??$$$$F <$$$$$$$$$;d$"-",dMMMM
!!!!! c$P"d$$$$",$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ ?i ?$$$$$ $$$$$ $$$$$ $$$$ $$$$$ $$$$$$ $$h, `$>`$$??$$$$$F d$$$$$. ??$$hl?$$$?$ ndMMMMMM
!!!! z$P;c$$$$"z$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$h<$L ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, `$F<$$$$$.`""?$$"" /i?$$$>?$$\4 MMMMMMMM
!!!! $F;d$$$$ z$$$$P""_.,.`"$$$$$$$?????F`$$ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ?$>$$$$$$ccc,,.,,,d$i<?$$<$?<$ MMMMMMMM
!!!>',c$P"$$F,$$$$$c??""""" ?$$$P" ====.' $$ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!,`$>?$$$$$$$$F<$$$$$$$$i?P;Fi$P 4MMMMMMM
!!! d$$F z$$ $$$$$cc,."  " $$$$" < ,.`\ $$ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ?h<$$$$$$$$\7$$$$$$$$$h;4"<$';,'"""""4
!!! ?"";d$$",$$$$$$$$$$cccc$$$$$ c, `.,.. $$ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!> ?<?$$???"""`"""""??$$$;$>$' !!!;,`?h.
!!! cc$$$$",$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ ?$$$$$$$ $F !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!>`<?$$cccd$$$$$$$$$$$$$;P>".,,,cCC`.,$
,,, `?;dP z$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$L ?$$$$$$ $',,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, c`$$$$$$??CCC??t$$$$?;F. `"'F)CC,$??
$$$h <$F ,d$$$$$$$$$$$$$$??$$$$$$c $$$$$$ ".?$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ $.`$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$P;" $Fd $F<$$P"zc
,,,,, "'`$?$$$$$$$$$$$$$$F.???$$?? <$$$$$ ,, ,, ,,, , ,,, ,, ,,, , ,,, ,, ,, ,, ,,, ,, ,, ,,, $hc`"$$$$$$$$$$$$$P;' d$F' $L`$",d$$
"""""" ?." $$$$$$$$$$$??iz$hc,,. ' d$$$$F,$$ $$ !!! $ !!! $$ !!! $ !!! $$ $$ $$ $$$ $h $$ P"  $$$$= ."??$$????""" ,d$$F " "z$$$$
$$$$$ $ ?$ "$$$$$$$$??id$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$P d$$ $$ !!! $ !!! $$ !!! $ !!! $$ $$ $$ $$$ $$ $F    <$$$$hcc;;rcccccc";;ii$$P" "$$$$
$$$$$ $.?$h."$$$$$$$CC$$$$??"""""?$$$$$F $$$ $$ !!! $ !!! $$ !!! $ !!! $$ $$ $$ $$F P"       ?$$$$$$$$cc</CCCid$$$$$P dr `?$$
,,,,, $L`$$h $$$$$$$$$P .,..,... .,$$$$ ;$$$ $$ !!! $ !!! $$ !!! $ !!! $$ $F ""             <."?$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$" c$F "
$$$$$ $$c`?$ ?$$$$$$$$Ci$$$$iizcc$$$$$' d$$$ $$ !!! $ !'` $$ !!! $ !!' "" .                 ?hc.""?$$$$$$$$$$$??".z$$$P
""""" $$$ ."?<$$$$$$$$$$$$CCid$$$$$$$'. $$$$ $$ !!! $ ! $ $$ !!' " $                         c `"?$$c,,.`"""`_.,cr??" d".
$$$$$ $$$ hc `$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$P',$ $$$$ $$ ,,,,$,, $ $$ $            <$                .""??$$$$$$$??".,cdccc,.
$$$$$ $$$ $$$ $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$P" c$$ $$$$ $$ """"$"" $ P $             <$                    $$$cc,. _,,,cc$$$$$$$$$$-
,,,,, $$$ $$$ $$$$$$$$$$,._""""_.,c $$$ $$$$ $$ !!! $ ! $                  $               <$   $$$$$$$ $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$ $$$ $$$ $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ $$$ $$$$ $$ !!! $ ! $                  $               <$ $ $$$$$$$ $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
,,,,, $$$ $$F,$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ ?$$ $$$$ $$ !!! $ ! $                  $               <$ $ $$$$$$$ $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$ $$$ $$F<$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ `"$ $$$$ $$ !!! $ ! $                  $               <$ $ $$$$$$$ $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
""""" $$$ "..<$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$L .' $$$$ $$ ``` " ! $                  $               <$ $ $$$$$$$ $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$F
$$$$$ $P",d$h."?$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$",$h "$$$ $$ccccccc  $                  $               <$ $ $$$$$$$ $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$'
,,,,, / d$$$$$$c,`"?$$$$$$$$$$$$$$",$$$$.`$$ """"""""   $                  $.              <$ $ $$$$$$$ $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$  <$$$$$$$$$$c,`"?$$$$$$$$$" z$$$$$$c $$$$ $$$     $                  $>              `$ $ $$$$$$$ $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
""""    "$$$$$$$$$$$$hc,""????"",$$$$$$$$$c`?$$ $$$     $                  $>               $ $ $$$$$$$ $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$P'      "?$$$$$$$$$$$$$??"""`?$$$$$$$$$" " ?$$        $                  $h               $ $ $$$$$$$ $$$$$$$$$$$$$$F
"           "?$$$$$$$$P".r ..?. "?$$$$" `"              $                  $h               $ $ $$$$$$$ $$$$$$$$$$$$$$'
              "?$$$$$" $ d$$.4  "?"                     $                  ?h               $ $ $$$$$$$ $$$$$$$$$$$$??
?                 """ ? "$P d                           $.                 /h               ? P $$$$$$$ $$$$$$$???".,c
`=c                      ?.,.="                "        $>                 /h               ' F.."""""" `""".,,zc$$$$F
!.`=4                      "                  ,P        $>                 `$                 F`??$$$??????????""??.,;
!!! ==4c                                     ,==        $>                  F                 F;;;;;;;;;;;-'''```.. ;!
!!!>, "==.                               .,r" /         $>                  F                 F ..``````!! ,;!!!!!! `!
!!!!!!!! `???r .                      _d-r* ..!         $h                 `F                 F`!!!!!!! !>'!!!!!!!!>'!
!!!!!!!!>;;`"""?c44,c=c,/=,,=,,*-.."" ",;;<!!'          $h                 .L                 F`!!!!!!! !>'!!!!!!!! ;>
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!>.,;,``.`". ".,.,;;,;;!!!!!!!!!          ?h                 `F                 F`!!!!!!! !, !!!!!!!! !>
!!!'```!!!!!!!!' .`<!!!!!!!!! ..`!!!!!!!!! .'           \h                  F                 F`!!!!!!! !! !!!!!!!! !>
!!! `? !!!!!!!! "?";!!!!!!!!! "" !!!!!!!!> "            \h                  $                 F`!!!!!!, !! !!!!!!!! !>
!!!!;;!!!!!!!!!!;;<!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!           \h                  $                /F !!!!!!! !! !!!!!!!! !>
!!!!!!!!!'```!!!!!!!!!'__`!!!!!!!!!' .`!!!!!            \h                  $                /F`!!!!!!! !'`!!!!!!!! !>
!!!!!!!!! ?$ `!!!!!!!! "" !!!!!!!!! "? !!!!!            `h                  $                /F`!!!!!! <! !!!!!!!!! !>
!!!!!!!!!>;;!!!!!!!!!!;;!!!!!!!!!!!;;!!!!!               h                  $                dF`!!!!!! !! `!!!!!!!! !!
!!!',,`!!!!!!!!'```<!!!!!!!!!''``!!!!!!!!!!              ?r                 $                dF`!!!!!! !!'`!!!!!!!! !
!!! ??-`!!!!!!!,`?-`!!!!!!!!! "? !!!!!!!!!!               ?                 $r               d>'!!!!!! !! !!!!!!!!! '
!!!;;;;!!!!!!!!!>;!!!!!!!!!!!;;<!!!!!!!!!'                 ?.               $F              .P !!!!!!! !! !!!!!!!!!''
!!!!!!!!!'```!!!!!!!!!'``<!!!!!!!!!!'`!!!!                  ?               $F             z" ;!!!!!!! !! !!!!!!''' !
!!!!!!!!! ?P !!!!!!!!! $= !!!!!!!!! " `!!                   "',             $h           .z'  ..``'`!! !! ``..,;;;''
!!!!!!!!!;;;;!!!!!!!!!;,;;!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!                     "=-,.._       $$c,,,.,.-=""     ``!!;;;;;!!;!!!''``,;><
!!!'`!!!!!!!!!!'```!!!!!!!!!!'``<!!!!!!!                            `"""""$$$$""""            ,;;,,,.. !> ,;;;;!!!!><
!!>,c,`!!!!!!!! $hr`!!!!!!!!>,$c !!!!!!                                   .,..                !!!!!!!! !>'!!!!!!!!!,'
!!>.",;!!!!!!!!;,".<!!!!!!!!>.?..!!!!!                                    d$$$               `!!!!!!!! ! ;!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!'!!!!!!!!!!!!'`!!!!!!!!!!!!'                                    $$$$.               !!!!!!!! ! !!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!! c,`!!!!!!!!! 4c`!!!!!!!!!!'                                     $$$$$               !!!!!!!>! !!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!! `" !!!!!!!!!; ".!!!!!!!!!!                                      $$$$$               !!!!!!!>'! !!!!!!!!!!!>
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!                                       ?$$$$r              !!!!!!!>'! !!!!!!!!!!!>
!!! ..`!!!!!!!!' .`!!!!!!!!!! .,`!!>                                      <$$$$F              !!!!!!!>'! !!!!!!!!!!!!
!!> ?" !!!!!!!! ?$ !!!!!!!!!! ?? !!>                                      <$$$$F              !!!!!!! `! !!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!;;;!!!!!!!!!;;;;!!!!!!!!!!;;;!!!,                                      <$$$$F              !!!!!!! !! !!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!'!!!!!!!!!!!'```!!!!!!!!!!                                      <$$$$$             ;!!!!!!! !! !!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!! c,`!!!!!!!!! ?P `!!!!!!!!!                                      $$$$$$             `!!!!!!! !! !!!'''''```'
!!!!!!!!!..,;!!!!!!!!!;,;;!!!!!!!!!!>                                     $$$$$$             ````''`' !!..,;;;;''''`'
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!''`!!!!!!!!!!''`<!!!!                                     ?$$$$P             .`````.. !! .,.,;;;;!!!!!
!!!..'`!!!!!!!! 4c,`!!!!!!!!\-hr !!!!>                           ,c$$$$$$cc,"??? $ccc,.     ;!!!!!!!! !! !!!!!!!!!!!!>
!!,`"".!!!!!!!!;,".<!!!!!!!!!;;;;!!!!!>                          $$$$$$$$$$$$ccc,`"?$$$ccc   `!!!!!!! !! !!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!'!                          $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$c ?????"   `!!!!!!! !! !!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!'.``!!!!!!!!! ..`!!!!!!!!!! . >                        c$$$$$$.`"?$$$$$$$$h          `'''''' `' `''''''''```'
!!!!!!!!> "" !!!!!!!!! "".!!!!!!!!!,`" !                       ,$$$$$$$$$$hcc,_`"""""       ;!!!!>>><<!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!>
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!                     c$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$c,       `!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!>
!!!''`<!!!!!!!!'`,`!!!!!!!!! ,,.`!!!!!!!!!                   d$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$?$h      `!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!\-$r !!!!!!!! "? !!!!!!!!! ?$F !!!!!!!!!!                  d$$$$$$$$$$$h."""""???P $$"    <!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!>.,;<!!!!!!!!!;;!!!!!!!!!!;,,.<!!!!!!!!!!!                <$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ccc,,."     !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sources:

Most of the text was taken from http://www.arts.ufl.edu/art/rt_room/wood/gothic.html
The ASCII art was taken from http://users.inetw.net/~mullen/woodg.htm

Literary Genre: American Gothic

This writeup is part of my studies for my Gothic Fictions course. Previous writeups spinning from these studies include my writeup on Gothic Fiction. Because of this being an ongoing study, I have not taken specific note of what parts of this writeup comes from what book. As such, this writeups does not contain references in the text itself. For further study, please consult the sources at the end of this writeup.

The starting point of the Gothic Fiction which has its roots in the USA is difficult to pinpoint, but - despite not being the first American to write Gothic fiction, Charles Brockden Brown (1771-1810) is the first writer who made Gothic fiction a specifically American tradition, rather than basing it on the European (especially British) Gothic tradition.

The differences between American and European gothic are few, yet significant. The most obvious difference is the difference in setting: Whereas European gothic writers would use uncanny and / or sublime landscape settings to create a gothic atmosphere, the American gothic tradition went two different routes; towards the urban and southern gothic.

Notable writers of American Gothic styles are Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Ambrose Bierce and Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

One of the most notable differences between American and European gothic is the way it is perceived by the audience. In the US, Gothic fiction was seen as a serious genre - a platform for telling stories and bringing messages. In contrast, in Europe, the gothic genre was seen as a form of popular fiction - much as we would see paperback spy fiction today - written purely for entertainment: Not something a serious author would bother with.

At present, the latter perception seems to have gained foothold in the US as well. Despite the gothic subculture being alive and well (see Goth vs. Gothic for a description far better than anything I could possibly come up with)

Urban gothic

The Urban gothic tradition was revolutionary for the Gothic genre. Moving away from the unknown (dark forests, scary mountains, haunted swamps and long, dangerous journeys), the setting was moved to the familiar: The cities and townships.

In the process of turning the cities into devices and / or locations of gothic fiction, they have undergone some degree of alienation or destruction. This process can be through epedemic diseases, demonic invasion, violent gangs or similar factors. The city - usually considered a relatively safe place to be - is transformed into a hunting ground; the home of predators - a place where you need special skills to survive. The Urban gothic tradition is still popular - depicted in movies such as Blade, The Crow and Bladerunner.

Typical for Urban gothic stories, the main character's nemesis is not a single person or cause, but rather a group of people or an organisation. Following the tradition of Bram Stoker's brainchild Dracula, vampires (either as the opposing force or as the main characters) often play a key role in urban gothic novels.

Southern Gothic

Southern gothic is an offspring of the Urban gothic movement, but it offers a distinct movement away from the urban atmosphere, and back towards the European gothic genre. Southern Gothic got its name from the writers' (in particular Carson McCullers, Tennessee Williams, Zora Neale Hurston and William Faulkner) fascination about the southern decadence and distanciation from the north through their southern ways. In such, a sense of almost incestuous mystique shrouded the south - also to the people who actually lived there - making it lend itself particularly good to the gothic genre. In the 1940s and the 1970s, the genre had some particularly strong followers and writers, breaking through to the mainstream culture.

The Southern Gothic genre is less focused around physical journeys, and more around psychological journeys. The southern Gothic tradition often focuses on family secrets, about how the events of the past are dangerous in unpredictable ways.

The characters in Southern Gothic novels are often young - or part of the novel is set in the past, to describe the youth of the characters. The theme of the novels is often the dangers of being young, and containing descriptions - either implied or explicitly - of unorthodox religions, such as Voodoo and Satanism. The stories will also often include elements of demonology and the invocation of demons.

The novels often use explicit sexuality (frequently exploiting homoeroticism) to shock and make a point.

A good example of current Southern Gothic writing is Poppy Z. Brite's and Anne Rice's work.

American Gothic today

The Gothic genre is slowly getting diluted with other genres; In particular the fantasy genre. Many scholars argue that Tolkien's Lord of the Rings contain obvious use of elements typical to the gothic genre. The same goes for Iain Banks and many of today's horror writers.

Some of the purest Gothic influences on our society today are actually found in certain subcultures of popular culture - especially in role-playing environments. Games such as Dungeons and Dragons, Heresy: Kingdom Come, Jyhad: A Game of Modern Gothic Horror, Vampire: The Masquerade and Magic: The Gathering all contain strong links to the gothic culture.

Despite the Gothic culture being quite prominent in American youth culture, the music has disappeared from the charts, turning the musical scene over to local bands and the classical goth bands (The Cure, Souixie and the Banshees, et al.). In a way, this is likely to create a stronger core of Gothic subculture: The fact that contemporary Gothic music cannot be purchased from Virgin Megastore and the likes means that the local, smaller bands (or even, heaven forbid, own initiative) gains entry into the subculture, further causing cultural bonding between the members of the various groups.

As for gothic fiction and arts, the amateur novelists and artists are apparent in online arts communities, such as Deviant Art. With the Internet as a communication medium, the subcultures become less isolated, and it is only a matter of time before Goth and Gothic fiction breaks its way back into mainstream media again. After all, previous waves of Gothic Fiction were prevalent in the 1970s, the 1940s and early in the 1900s - if this rhythm keeps up, the reborn interest about television series such as Buffy the Vampire slayer, Angel, Dark Angel and the increased frequency of vampire-related films may be the prophecy that The Next Coming of gothic fiction in mainstream culture is not far away.

Sources: (Harvard Referencing System)

Bleiler, EF. (1983) The Guide to Supernatural Fiction. Kent: Kent State University Press
Crawford, G et al. (1983) Bibliography of Gothic Studies. Baton Rouge: Gothic Press
Frank, F (1984) Guide to the Gothic: An Annotated Bibliography of Criticism. Metuchen: Scarecrow Press
Hodkinson, P (2002) Goth New York: Berg
Mercer, M (2002) 21st Century Goth. London: Reynolds and Hearn
Spector, R (1983) The English Gothic Greenwood Press
Stoler, J (1975) One Hundred Years of English Gothic Fiction Erasmus Press Microfilm Series

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.