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.

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 cottagegore 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 books by authors that more often write outside the genre include:

  • American Gods (Neil Gaiman)
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes (Ray Bradbury)
  • Beloved (Toni Morrison)
  • Bonechiller (Graham McNamee)
  • After and Before the Lightning (Simon Ortiz)


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)
  • I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020)
  • The Devil All the Time (2020)

TV Shows

  • Stranger Things