Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Humanities, PhD

Committee Chair

Gibson, John

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Bertacco, Simona

Committee Member

Bertacco, Simona

Committee Member

Williams, Michael

Committee Member

Lowenstein, Adam

Author's Keywords

horror genre; American culture; placelessness; globalization; literary and cinematic studies; humanist geography


This dissertation investigates particular American anxieties concerning cultural identity and place, particularly fears about America’s place (or lack thereof) within the global world, that can be seen throughout much of post-WWII American horror literature and film. More specifically, this project explores how an existent pattern of visual and narrative depictions of destroyed bodies and places illustrates larger tensions and fears about placelessness—the affect and effect of incomplete, partial, or inauthentic relationships with the places that provide cultural and individual identity and meaning. I argue that representations of placelessness within American horror texts become vehicles for addressing and signifying American fears about globalization and America’s place(lessness) within the global landscape. This dissertation begins with a discussion of how the methodologies of literary and cinematic theory, humanist geography, and cultural studies work together to produce an interdisciplinary examination of the intersections between American horror, placelessness, and globalization. The introduction sets up the primary concepts and key definitions central to this project’s understanding of horror, place, and identity. The overall structure of the dissertation then spirals out from the most localized of places to the most globalized of places that appear within American horror. The four main chapters of this dissertation each focus on a specific place or type of interaction with places: the home, everyday places, the American landscape/wilderness, and global tourism. Each chapter uses a particular theoretical framework that, in addition to the overarching ideas of placelessness and globalization, serves as a foundation for in-depth, close-readings of specific key horror texts. The dissertation concludes with a brief examination of adaptation theory in horror and a return to the project’s original premise: that post-WWII American horror presents specific and particular American anxieties tied to the fear that our cultural and individual identities are as fabricated and fraudulent as are our cultural and individual understandings of our places. I maintain that the ultimate source of horror in these texts is the insidious suggestion that such fears are warranted and the consequences of this horrific placelessness will be the terrible destruction and inevitable untethering of cultural and individual identities, bodies, and places.