Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (iii, 57 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Kir Kuiken

Committee Members

James Lilley, Kir Kuiken


Gothic Literature, Horror/ Terror, Patriarchal Structures, Supernatural, True Crime, Women, Women and literature, Women in literature, Horror tales, True crime stories, True crime television programs, Gothic literature, Detective and mystery stories, Sex role in literature, Violence in literature

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


This thesis examines society’s interest in gothic literature, horror, and true crime. Beginning with the first gothic works, and ending with modern true crime media, a focus of this exploratory piece will be on women because women have always been, and remain, the primary consumers of the gothic, and of true crime. The question is: Why? To examine the possible reasons, I will be examining the success of original gothic writers, namely, Ann Radcliffe. Other authors who influenced the development of the Gothic genre will influence our modern understanding of these origins. I will examine Poe’s “The Mystery of Marie Roget” to explain how detective fiction encouraged female readership, terrifying society by reminding us that we have more reason to fear one another than supernatural forces. Modern true crime media, being influenced by Poe and early gothic works, will be explored through the lens of the female experience. In order to conceptualize the genre’s popularity among women, this paper will explore modern true crime’s representation in media and pop culture using television and podcast series’ including “See No Evil,” “Serial,” “Macabre London Podcast,” and “My Favorite Murder.” The scope of this paper will focus on my research-based speculation about women’s obsession with true crime, focusing on television programming, books, and other popular present-day true crime media. The goal is to determine why women are inordinately attracted to the true crime genre by exploring the links between original gothic works and present day crime media. Based on the timeline of true crimes development beginning with supernatural literature, the most historically supported reason for women’s interest in the genres is that the genres support the articulation of women’s experience and problematic status as the subordinate sex under a patriarchal society.