Poe Ballantine and the Gothic frontier

Kenneth Millard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article situates Ballantine’s Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere in terms of its creative engagement with gothic history, where the domestic narrative of the “memoir” and the monstrosity of Steven Haataja’s death are closely complementary. Ballantine’s book has a keen conceptual interest in the issue of origins: Where does the (textual) “self” begin, and how can history be understood without proper knowledge of true origins? This article examines other forms of beginnings in American literature (Twain, Hawthorne, Rip van Winkle) to advocate the value of Ballantine’s work as a significant contribution to American gothic history, one founded not on secure origins but on the repudiation of history. Ballantine’s memoir is a metafictional examination of this problem, where the failure of enlightenment discourses of law and medicine is understood as an anxious expression of the potential futility of the errand into the wilderness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-476
Number of pages12
JournalCritique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction
Issue number4
Early online date8 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2016


  • Gothic
  • metafiction
  • West
  • origins


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