Bodies of evidence: Critical theory and audience response to American Gothic narratives

Bruce G Johnson, University of Rhode Island

Abstract

Some academic critics are making claims about audience reactions and responses to American Gothic literature and film in order to provide arguments about this particular genre. In presenting their predictions about audience behaviors, however, these critics typically fail to test the accuracy of their theories by providing any empirical evidence regarding the ways in which actual readers and viewers are impacted by these texts. This exploratory study, then, offers a preliminary method for measuring demonstrable audience responses to American Gothic literature and film in order to illuminate whether or not some of these critical theories about audience reactions are verifiable. More explicitly, this provisional study surveyed the reactions of a specific set of readers and viewers to this genre's texts by collecting empirical data about their attitudes towards these kinds of literary and film narratives. While the results of this study are not generalizable to a larger population because the survey was administered to a convenience sample, such results are still valid. Moreover, they have provided the researcher with a number of ways to refine both the research methodology and the instrument utilized to collect data in this study in order to gain a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of behavioral claims being made by cultural critics about this particular narrative genre. ^

Subject Area

Sociology, Theory and Methods|Literature, American|Cinema

Recommended Citation

Bruce G Johnson, "Bodies of evidence: Critical theory and audience response to American Gothic narratives" (2010). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3415520.
http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/dissertations/AAI3415520

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