“Everybody you tell will be haunted too”: Examining the Melding of Gothic and Modernist Literature in Mildred Haun’s The Hawk’s Done Gone


  • Harley Mercadal


This essay examines how Mildred Haun uses Appalachian themes and settings
to bridge the melding of Gothic and Modernist fiction through her short story
collection, The Hawk’s Done Gone. By examining this melding of two polar
genres, I seek to bring attention to an underappreciated author’s work and
further expand the canon of Taryn Norman’s concept of “Gothic Modernism”
into the rural literature space and beyond. I use cross-references to aid my
literary analysis of several stories in Haun’s collection to showcase her usage of
Gothic Modernism.
The Hawk’s Done Gone is a collection of stories that merges superstition,
folklore, and modern realism with dark themes of witchcraft, infanticide,
and incest to create a series of darkly-themed snapshots of Appalachian life
ranging from the Civil War era to the 1940s. Despite the haunting threads
connecting these stories, Haun deftly injects Appalachian songs, dialect,
and culture into her writing to lend an Appalachian spin on the expected
conventions of Modernism’s cityscapes or Gothic literature’s rural, wealthy
plantations. Haun’s skillful blending creates a new, liminal space of terror,
where readers feel tension from the characters, situations, and landscapes. In
this essay, I show how this text combines its Modernist timeliness, using Ezra
Pound’s idea of “make it new,” while also bringing in classic Gothic literature
tropes (fearful weather, blood curses, and prophecy) to deepen the text’s
complexity and showcase Modernist concerns, fears, and horrors.



2023-06-02 — Updated on 2023-06-14