Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Lisa Ann Robertson


This project focuses on the intersections of space, power, gender, religion, and the architecture of institutions that confine and repress women. I argue that these texts focus on how patriarchal and domestic ideologies lock women into gendered expectations through oppressive gender politics. Chapter one demonstrates how early gothic female writers used representations of physical structures, such as abbeys and castles, to expose the eighteenth-century woman’s experiences of abuse and confinement by repressive patriarchal and monarchal rule. This chapter connects themes and arguments within Sophia Lee’s The Recess (1783) and Ann Radcliffe’s A Sicilian Romance (1790) to reveal the metaphors that represent socio-political constructs designed to keep women submissive to religious and patriarchal control. Chapter two argues that Jac Jemc’s use of architectural metaphors in The Grip of It (2017) signifies the confining nature of gendered, domestic expectations and the institution of marriage. Marriage often reduces women’s roles to gendered roles and expectations and keeps women prisoner to their husbands through economic, social, professional, and societal expectations. Chapter three argues that William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist (1971) works to reinforce religious and domestic ideologies by portraying women as conduits of evil by promoting religious, conservative values. When women resist the confines of oppressive domestic ideologies, the patriarchal order retaliates by initiating an aggressive and violent retaliation against women. I conclude that these novels incorporate demons and claustrophobic spaces to articulate the horrors women often experience as prisoners of domestic ideologies and patriarchal power. I argue that this project broadens the understanding of how architecture and space work in gothic and horror novels to examine the public and private spaces that women and marginalized communities occupy and the socio-political ramifications that transpire when they defy the patriarchal order.

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


Architecture, Feminism, Gender, Gothic, Horror, Politics

Number of Pages



University of South Dakota



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