Department or Program


Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Vernon Shetley

Additional Advisor(s)

Patricia Berman


Horror as a genre dates back to the Gothic of the 18th century, but like all genres, does not remain static. Horror seeks to explore, explain, and exploit what scares us and why, and as such, is a fascinating mirror to society. This thesis considers what is behind the curtain of American late 20th-century horror, and specifically, a common theme referred to in this study as the "suburban uncanny." This thesis argues that the homogeneity and false notions of happiness encouraged by the American suburban lifestyle create a perfect cultural environment for uncanny villains, arising from the inherent impossibility of that sort of saccharine perfection. Works examined include IT, Needful Things, The Stepford Wives, Blue Velvet, and Poltergeist.