Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Carol Wardell



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Jeffrey Scraba

Committee Member

Donal Harris

Committee Member

Shelby Crosby

Committee Member

Terrence Tucker


“‘Sometimes Human Places Create Inhuman Monsters’: An Examination of the Monstrous and the Abject in American Gothic Literature” defines “characters” in select texts as monstrous beings. These identified beings engage Julia Kristeva’s abject and differ from a grotesque. Whereas a grotesque character is often supportive in relation to the development of the story, the characters I have identified are crucial to the text. Without these characters and the abjection these monstrous beings evoke, the story would not develop in the same manner, have the same repercussions, nor have the same representation of cultural anxieties. In order to develop a definition of these “beings,” I trace the trajectory of the Gothic and its monsters to its current home in Southern Gothic literature. Relying on Flannery O’Connor’s definition of the grotesque, I establish the difference between a grotesque character and a monstrous being. This project then examines select texts and the various facets of the abject that the reader experiences when encountering the monstrous beings, the metaphorical implications of the monstrous beings, and reveals how the monstrous erupt borders by violating categories of age, race, class, and gender. Chapter one analyzes the paradoxical abjection the reader experiences when confronted with sexualized adolescent female child-as-killers. Chapter two explores how empathetic abjection arises from the infestation of parasites in humans. Chapter three explains how linguistic abjection towards “others” is a monstrosity that operates as a vehicle to solidify white identity. Chapter four examines religious and taboo abjection born from reproductive abjection.


Data is provided by the student

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest.


Embargoed until 12/18/2025

Available for download on Thursday, December 18, 2025