emmadelosnardos asked: How would you define ‘Southern gothic’? I don’t know much about the genre in literature, much less in music.
Oh, how very glad I am that you asked (I shall refrain from spilling forth an entire essay on the matter).
Southern Gothic refers to a genre of American literature that focuses on macabre and disturbing themes borne out of the social, cultural, and religious climate of the American south. From fixations on the ‘grotesque’ and depraved behaviour of a marginalised few, to the sinister corruption of accepted societal mores, the genre is rooted firmly in explorations of God, morality, and the inner bedlam of the soul. The literary genre is often populated by a darkly satirical take on the aforementioned issues, and some contain elements of magical realism. The result is a deeply unsettling and engaging atmosphere of God-fearing people faced with the degenerate horror of their own making, surrounded by the oppressive heat of a Mississippi summer and blood on the barn door.
Prominent authors of the genre include Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, Shirley Jackson, Carson McCullers, Tennessee Williams, and Truman Capote. O’Connor’s short essay from 1960 entitled “Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction” provides a brilliant insight into the mind of the Southern gothic writer as a vantage point.
Exemplary literary works of note:
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying, Sanctuary
Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood, A Good Man is Hard to Find
Erskine Cauldwell, Kneel to the Rising Sun
Eudora Welty, The Robber Bridegroom
Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire
Truman Capote, Other Voices, Other Rooms
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
Shirley Jackson, The Lottery
The musical equivalent possesses many of the same characteristics, rooted in southern bluegrass and folk music. It tells of furtive strangers, biblical revelations, and lazy summer days punctuated by gunshot; all to the strum of a banjo.