Date of Award

Fall 12-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Literary and Cultural Studies

Committee Director

Manuela Mourão

Committee Member

Margaret Konkol

Committee Member

Avi Santo


This dissertation explores the dual nature of Richard A.W. Hughes as a marginalized Gothicist and modernist. This duality facilitated the development of the author’s reparative vision for a 20th-century world traumatized by planetary war. The present study utilizes close readings—both surface and symptomatic—combined with archival research to assert that Hughes fashions this reparative imperative consistently across his corpus: in his short stories, poems, novels, stage plays, and screenplays. In his short stories, this vision includes an embrace of the Stranger, a shadowy Gothic figure whose possessions, power, difference, and familiarity lead the human subject from contestation, through representation, and toward identification with the Stranger. Hughes continues to probe the uncharted and taboo through his poems of death and putrefaction, often in the comic Gothic vein, by which humanity must confront its shared abjection. The confrontational nature of Hughes’s poems follows from his understanding, shaped by fellow poet Robert Graves, that humankind is a neurotic, communicative, and pattern-making “animal.” By means of memento mori, Hughes promotes a view of death that re-members a society torn apart by modernity’s multiple dismemberments. Finally, in Hughes’s novels and dramas, the author emphasizes the means for humanity to interface imaginatively with the Abject through a series of metempsychotic masks that bring gods and devils to life. First, Hughes’s two sea novels explore the postcolonial world, engaging the cultural Other through masks that highlight female abjection in the face of cataclysmic trauma. Furthermore, in Hughes’s two interbellum novels, the author brings six movie monsters to life as he explores human subjectivity scarred by personal, societal, and historical traumas. Across Hughes’s oeuvre, including in his stage dramas and screenplays, the author leverages Gothic tropes, themes, and diegetical patterns as a form of shock therapy that demonstrates shared human abjection across genders as male subjects learn to crawl into the Cave of Abjection with all whom the male gaze has traditionally cast down into that space. This dissertation asserts that it is Hughes’s instinctive use of the Gothic within modernist literature that forms the crux of his reparative vision of truth, change, and forgiveness.