Female Gothic, Modernity and the Aesthetics of Change: Demythologising the South in Eudora Welty

  • Shabbir Ahmad
  • Khadija Khalid
  • Azra Khanam


Eudora Welty, an American fiction writer, brings forth women’s issues and promotes feminist ethics in her writings: novels and short stories. Her stories reveal her concern with the extended subordination of women under machismo in Southern America. More significantly, her work highlights the growth of women’s liberal thinking during the development of modernity in the southern parts of America. She looks at the change in time and thought under modernity to examine the local culture and literature with a critical eye on the strict gender order in the South. Her fiction explores varied forms of oppression in marriage, kinship, and community structure of the changing South through female Gothicism. In depicting her female characters as fleeing spatial confinement for freedom and self-transformation, Welty develops an aesthetic of mobility that threatens the mythologized constructions of Southern culture. This eventually leads to a reactionary modernism that calls for the redefinition of identity and culture in the history of Southern America. For centuries, the South has been considered the most segregated, white-centric patriarchal society due to its particular culture, geography and history. The change in thought and culture caused by modernity becomes a threat to the customary plantation business as well as to the conservative male hierarchical order as it engenders a revision of women’s identity. This study may help in further research on Gothic literary studies in combination with discourses on culture and women’s identity in literary works.
Keywords: Female Gothic, mythologized culture, modernity, Southern America, women’s identity