Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type



Arts and Sciences


Hispanic Studies

First Advisor

Susan Carvalho


Latin American literary criticism has traditionally underestimated the significance of the Gothic aesthetic, in spite of the rich Gothic literary tradition of Latin America. Specifically in the Southern Cone - the focus of my research - there is a particular recurrence and consumption of this genre, not only in literature but also in cinema, which has not been deeply analyzed. I argue that a close examination of the Gothic and Fantastic elements in these novels and films unveils anxieties, repressions and manifestations of social decay that underlie common codes of social decency and the conventions of maintaining an oppressive social tradition. My analysis of particular novels extends from the beginning of the twentieh-century through the Boom; my discussion then extends to film productions from the 1960s to the present.

In the first chapter I explore the dissemination of Gothic figures and forms from their eighteenth-century origins to the present. In the second chapter I discuss how the Gothic aesthetic was used at the beginning of the twentieth-century to comment on the effects of modernization and scientific/psychological discoveries in the Southern Cone. I also analyze the Gothic as a powerful feminist discourse. Chapter three focuses on the way the Gothic aesthetic is employed as a mechanism to communicate social and moral decay in a typical Southern Cone family. I also explore how the Gothic is used to question a political-social repression or a dictatorship. In chapter four I focus on cinema in an aesthetically and technically diverse selection of filmes. All of them employ vampirism to comment on different sexual issues, such as repression, incest, homosexuality, fetishism, sadism, and other sexual-social taboos. Finally, the conclusion demonstrates that, while the Gothic aesthetic maintains certain constants throughout the twentieth-century, its underlying meaning shifts to reflect the dominant political-social themes of each era, thus ensuring its continued relevance to popular audiences.