Southern Gothic is a literary tradition that came into its own in the early twentieth century

Southern Gothic is a literary tradition that came into its own in the early twentieth century. It is rooted in the Gothic style, which had been popular in European literature for many centuries. Gothic writers concocted wild, frightening scenarios in which mysterious secrets, supernatural occurrences, and characters’ extreme duress conspired to create a breathless reading experience. Gothic style focused on the morbid and grotesque, and the genre often featured certain set pieces and characters: drafty castles laced with cobwebs, secret passages, and frightened, wide-eyed heroines whose innocence does not go untouched. Although they borrow the essential ingredients of the Gothic, writers of Southern Gothic fiction were not interested in integrating elements of the sensational solely for the sake of creating suspense or titillation. Writers such as Flannery O’Connor, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Harper Lee, Eudora Welty, Erskine Caldwell, and Carson McCullers were drawn to the elements of Gothicism for what they revealed about human psychology and the dark, underlying motives that were pushed to the fringes of society.