Aesthetics Wiki

Midwest Gothic is a type of Regional Gothic aesthetic characterized by the portrayal of common facets of the Midwestern American lifestyle in a macabre light. Like many other Regional Gothic aesthetics, it originated and rose to popularity in the middle 2010s on Tumblr. Just to clarify however, This ain't Midwest life. The person who told you that lives in a studio apartment in a major city and wants to live the "pure life" without actually knowing what it is. The Midwest is city, town, forest, and cornfield, except Detroit, that place is Midwest Gothic in a city. All of this applies to cottagecore as well.

Common themes found in Midwest Gothic works include the indifferent and mysterious qualities of nature, references to local folklore, exaggerations of Midwestern traditions, and a sense of isolation and disconnection, as well as poor weather and depressing lives. The aesthetic is often linked to cottagecore and liminal spaces.



Like its predecessor, Southern Gothic, Midwest Gothic flourishes mainly in literary works. Although most self-described literature in the genre is microfiction on Tumblr, there exists a significant body of literature by established authors that falls into the classification. Some authors known for their Midwest Gothic work include:

  • Scott Thomas
  • Donald Ray Pollack
  • Lauren Beukes
  • Thomas Ligotti
  • C.M. Muller

More specific stories by authors that more often write outside the genre include:

  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Bonechiller by Graham McNamee
  • After and Before the Lightning by Simon Ortiz
  • The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

A publication worth mentioning in this category is the Midwestern Gothic literary journal, which, though sadly out of print, collected Midwest based fiction, poetry, and nonfiction from various authors.


Midwest Gothic can also be found represented in various high-profile films. As many of the tropes of Midwest Gothic can easily be transferred to the cinematic realm, several works have been described as being a part of the genre. These include:

  • The Last Picture Show (1971)
  • Children of the Corn (1984)
  • What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
  • Fargo (1996)
  • Gummo (1997)
  • A Serious Man (2009)
  • Nebraska (2013)
  • 1922 (2017)
  • I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020)
  • The Devil All the Time (2020)

TV Shows[]

  • Picket Fences (1992-1996)
  • Stranger Things (2016-)

Video Games[]

  • Lady Ice (2016)


  • Unwell, a Midwestern Gothic mystery