This thesis examines the materialisation of the Gothic in recent Canadian women's fiction in English. The Gothic has long been applied to female subjectivity and to Canadian spatiality and in materialising these abstract conceptualisations of identity and space, this thesis constitutes a critical approach to the genre and to dominant discourses in Canada. An emphasis on the political and local contexts of the Gothic in English-Canadian women's writing extends psychoanalytic and thematic approaches to the genre to address repressed traumas within the nation. Such a strategic adaptation of the Gothic provides a cartography and historical record of domestic and national haunted spaces. Crucially, the domestic here refers not only to the contained space of Gothicised female bodies and houses, but also to the establishment of a confining and domesticating colonial nation-state. This blurring of private and public spheres signals a movement from embodied haunting to cultural haunting, and between personal mourning and collective memorialisation.
In arguing for the political purchase made available by an insistence on the local, political, and historical contexts within Gothic texts, this thesis is necessarily intertextual and interdisciplinary. It draws on feminism, spatial theory, postcolonialism and poststructuralism in order to move between the abstract and the concrete and to provide close readings of the Gothic in Jane Urquhart's The Whirlpool (1986) and Away (1993), Ann-Marie MacDonald's Fallon Your Knees (1996), Eden Robinson's Monkey Beach (2000) and Dionne Brand's At the Full and Change of the Moon (1999). Working within and against the European and Canadian Gothic canons, these texts resituate familiar Gothic tropes within particular bodies and spaces, and with clear political agendas. Fugitive accounts set in nineteenth-century Niagara Falls, the ecologies of coastal regions, and a recent media event in Toronto are some of the disjunctive and contextualising histories, spaces and narratives threaded through each chapter to highlight the precise ontological, historical and geographical location of the Gothic. Such widely ranging contexts and intertexts enable the thesis to excavate a number of haunting histories and territorialise a range of haunted spaces that reveals the blemishes on the spotless image of the domestic nation.