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What Motivated Joyce Carol Oates to Become a Gothic Writer?
It is common in many gothic writers to have a dark past, using their writing as an outlet for coming to terms with their experiences. One of the most notable contributors to American gothic literature is Joyce Carol Oates. She lived a happy childhood in a small farming community, and attended the Catholic Church with her family. Oates has shown exemplary talent in writing even before she learned about the scandal her family was involved with. This suggests that Oates has had various influences—people, stories, and events that made her who she is both as a person and as a writer. American author Joyce Carol Oates has more than 100 books and works of drama to her name. She was born in 1938 in a small farm community in Lockport, New York (Berlind, “Joyce Carol Oates”). Oates started her fascination in reading at a very young age. In her early teens, she consumed herself with the writing of William Faulkner. She began writing at 14, when she received her first typewriter from her paternal grandmother, Blanche Woodside (Berlind, Joyce Carol Oates”). She worked for her high school newspaper until her graduation in 1956. She was the first in the family to finish high school. Oates earned a scholarship to attend Syracuse University. At 19, she won the prestigious fiction contest funded by Mademoiselle Magazine (Berlind, “Joyce Carol Oates”). She was valedictorian of her graduating class in college. Oates completed her Master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin where she met her late husband Raymond Smith (Academy of Achievement, "Joyce Carol Oates Biography"). They married in 1961 after three months of courtship. Her first book, With Shuddering Fall, was published when she was 28 (Academy of Achievement, "Joyce Carol Oates Biography"). This novel received the National Book Award. When Oates and her husband moved to Canada in 1974, they opened a small press and published a literary magazine called The Ontario Review, where she acted as an associate editor (Academy of Achievement, “Joyce Carol Oates Biography”). In the early 1980s, Oates released a series of novels, beginning with Bellefleur, in which she reinvented the precepts of Gothic fiction and reimagined large swaths of American history (Academy of Achievement, “Joyce Carol Oates Biography”). Oates received the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Art of the Short Story in 1996. Oates suffered severe depression following the death of her husband in 2008. Her experiences were described vividly in the journal, A Widow’s Tale, published in 2011 (Academy of Achievement, "Joyce Carol Oates Biography"). In 2009, she married Charles Gross, a professor in the Psychology Department and Neuroscience Institute at Princeton University (Academy of Achievement, "Joyce Carol Oates Biography"). At present, Oates is a Distinguished Professor of Humanities in Princeton, New Jersey (Academy of Achievement, "Joyce Carol Oates Biography"). Joyce Carol Oates is hailed as the Grande Dame of the new Gothic being the only female recipient of the Bram Stoker for Achievement (Guran, “Joyce Carol Oates: The Gothic Queen”). Oates earned the award for her serial killer novel Zombie published in 1995. Her novels appeared in seven of the twelve The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror Annual Anthologies. She is a major influence in defining modern gothic through her writing and editing of the American Gothic Tales. In her introduction to the anthology, she revealed that many of the writers chosen for the volume are general writers. Their inclusion is intended to emphasize the depth of Gothic (Guran, "Joyce Carol Oates: The Gothic Queen"). According to Oates, horror is a feature of life; as a writer, she is fascinated by all features of life (Wolinsky, “The Pendulum”). She considers Gothic as the most imaginative of all genres of literature, exhibiting an obvious relationship to the...
Cited: Academy of Achievement. "Joyce Carol Oates Biography." 2012. Web. 13 May 2014.
Berlind, Roger. “Joyce Carol Oates.” Princeton University, 2014. Web. 13 May 2014.
Encyclopedia of World Biography. "Joyce Carol Oates Facts." The Gale Group, Inc., 2010. Web. 13 May 2014.
Guran, Paula. "Joyce Carol Oates: The Gothic Queen." Universal Studies, 1999. Web. 13 May 2015.
Nutt, Amy Ellis. "Joyce Carol Oates: Princeton 's 'Dark Lady of Fiction ' Comes Shining." NewJersey.com, 15 March 2010. Web. 13 May 2014.
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