Aesthetics Wiki

Southern Gothic is a gothic subgenre encompassing fashion inspired by Southern outfits, locations from the 1800s, and literary works. It originated in works by 19th-20th century Southern authors criticizing their society's racism, sexism, classism, fixation on the past, and decaying economy. Later the aesthetic deviated from literature with the "regional gothic" trend on tumblr in the mid-2010s, which places greater emphasis on Liminal Space, modern American iconography, evangelicalism, and controversially, hillbilly horror. Because of this, this entry is divided into two sections, with one based on the literary movement and the other on the tumblr revival.

A few movies in the 2000s have gone against the harmful tropes revolving around “evil hillbillies and evangelicals in the South”, such as 2010’s Dale and Tucker Vs Evil. This is still a rarity though, and is definitely a sociological issue that needs to be better addressed.



The visuals of the literary movement connect with the gothic imagery of decay as a metaphor for the fall of society due to lack of progress. Imagery tended to emphasize the political themes of the work and highlight the differences between the plantation class, poor white people, and black people.

  • American Civil War imagery
  • Daguerreotypes
  • Ghosts and other supernatural beings
  • Plantation houses in states of decay
  • Southern Belle-style dresses

Regional Gothic

  • Abandoned gas stations
  • Animals with cultish undertones, such as deer and rams
  • Bayous and swamps
  • Billboards with evangelical messages meant to inspire fear in the reader
  • Grotesque looking people. This is extremely controversial due to the classism and fatphobia inherent in deeming Southerners "ugly and creepy"
  • Women in white dresses (not necessarily 19th century) resembling ghosts
  • Supernatural and ritualistic objects such as Ouija boards and candles
  • Voodoo

Media (Literary)

Please note, a TVTropes page exists for the aesthetic, as well as it being a genre that is much observed and compiled.

Books, Anthologies, and Short Stories

  • Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
  • A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor
  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  • Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor
  • Light in August by William Faulkner
  • "The Gold-Bug" by Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  • The Violent Bear it Away by Flannery O'Connor
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
  • The Raven Boys series by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Tennyson by Lesley M.M. Blume


  • Tucker and Dale Vs Evil (2010)
  • Haunted Spooks (1920)
  • Swamp Water (1941)
  • A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
  • The Night of the Hunter (1955)
  • The Young One (1960)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
  • Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)
  • The Beguiled (1971)
  • Deliverance (1972)
  • The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972)
  • Macon County Line (1974)
  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
  • Eaten Alive (1976)
  • Ode to Billy Joe (1976)
  • The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)
  • The Evictors (1979)
  • Wise Blood (1979)
  • A Day of Judgment (1981)
  • The Beyond (1981)
  • Southern Comfort (1981)
  • Crimes of the Heart (1986)
  • Angel Heart (1987)
  • Near Dark (1987)
  • Pumpkinhead (1988)
  • Flesh and Bone (1993)
  • Interview With The Vampire (1994)
  • Sling Blade (1996)
  • Eve's Bayou (1997)
  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)
  • Beloved (1998)
  • George Washington (2000)
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
  • Frailty (2001)
  • Big Fish (2003)
  • Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus (2003)
  • The Skeleton Key (2005)
  • Black Snake Moan (2007)
  • In the Electric Mist (2009)
  • Winter's Bone (2010)
  • Killer Joe (2011/2012)
  • Mud (2012)
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
  • Jug Face (2013)
  • Beautiful Creatures (2013)
  • Joe (2013)
  • Stoker (2013)
  • Jessabelle (2014)
  • Cold in July (2014)
  • Nocturnal Animals (2016)
  • Lemonade (2016)
  • The Beguiled (2017)
  • Mudbound (2017)
  • The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)
  • The Devil All the Time (2020)

TV Shows

  • In the Heat of the Night (1988–1995)
  • American Gothic (1995–96)
  • Justified (2010–15)
  • The Heart, She Holler (2011)
  • American Horror Story: Coven (2013)
  • Rectify (2013–16)
  • The Originals (2013–2018)
  • True Detective, seasons 1 (2014), and 3 (2019)
  • Bloodline, seasons 1 (2015) and 2 (2016)
  • Preacher (2016–present)
  • Outcast (2016–present)
  • Ozark (2017–present)
  • Hap and Leonard (2016–2018)
  • Outsiders (2016–2017)
  • True Blood (2008–2014)
  • Sharp Objects (2018)
  • Cloak and Dagger (2018–19)
  • The Act (TV series) (2019)
  • Lovecraft Country (2020–present)
  • Tell Me Your Secrets (2021–present)

Video Games

  • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (2017)


Southern Gothic music, also known as Dark Country, describes the umbrella of different genres typically associated with the American South, such as Country, Negro Spirituals, Bluegrass, Gospel, Rock, and Folk. Instrumentation tends to be acoustic, except electric guitar, and either in a slower tempo due to the singers' lower pitch and mournful theme, or in a rapid, scat-like approach to singing that is typically in more rock-like and rebellious songs.

The lyrics address the common motifs of Southern Gothic: poverty, religion, drug addiction, the supernatural, and death. They often utilize tropes within novels and folktales, such as making deals with the Devil at the crossroads, witch trials, mothers mourning the death of their children, and becoming a killer.

In playlists, there are exceptions, and multiple songs that carry across either an abandoned or a sublime, witch-like sound that do not suggest the American South are also popular.

Several Goth bands (ironically mostly in Britain’s Positive-Punk and Australia’s Swampie scenes) employed imagery and musical styles influenced by the dark side of country and rockabilly.


  • Ethel Cain
  • The Sisters of Mercy
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
  • The Mission
  • The Gun Club
  • The Birthday Party
  • The Cramps
  • Danielle Dax
  • Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
  • Blues Sacareno
  • The Brothers Bright
  • The Dead Weather
  • Fire on Fire
  • Tom Waits
  • Johnny Cash
  • Rising Appalachia
  • Robert Johnson