American Studies
American Studies

Whitney Shylee May

Doctoral Student



The Gothic, 19th-century horror literature and culture, monster theory, literary criticism, spatial literary studies, history of capitalism, circus and sideshow history


Whitney S. May, MA, is a doctoral student in the American Studies program at the University of Texas. Her primary research interests include the Gothic and nineteenth-century horror literature, as well as depictions of the carnivalesque in horror fiction and in popular culture. Her recent work has been published in The Edgar Allan Poe Review and Supernatural Studies, as well as Literature's Kinkiest Corners (Lexington Books, 2019) and Circus Space: The Big Top on the Big Screen (McFarland Press, 2020).


Refereed Articles:

“The Lioness and the Protector: The (Post)Feminist Dialogic of Tamora Pierce’s Lady Knights.” Children’s Literature Annual, 48 (Forthcoming, 2020): 51-79.

“Through the Cheval-Glass: The Doppelgänger and Temporal Modernist Terror in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Supernatural Studies, 5.1 (2018): 121–135.

“The Influence of Place on Identity in Poe’s ‘Morella’ and ‘William Wilson.’ The Edgar Allan Poe Review, 18 (2017): 218–233. DOI: 10.5325/edgallpoerev.18.2.0218.

Book Chapters:

“The Technology of Anguish: (Re)Imagining Post-9/11 Trauma in Tamora Pierce’s Fantasy Universes,” Displaced: Literature of Indigeneity, Migration, and Trauma. Ed. Kate Rose. Routledge, 2020. 229-244.

“Spectrality and Spectatorship: Heterotopic Doubling in Cinematic Circuses.” The Big Top on the Big Screen: Explorations of the Circus on Film. Ed. Teresa Cutler-Broyles. McFarland Press, 2020. 31-46.

“‘To Test the Limits and Break Through’: How Femslash Rejects Straight-Coding of Queer Experiences in Disney’s Frozen.” Eds. Sara K. Howe and Susan E. Cook, Representing Kink: Fringe Sexuality and Textuality in Literature, Digital Narrative, and Popular Culture. Rowman & Littlefield, 2019. 117-140.

Conference Presentations

April 2020. “The Door Marked ‘Not Scary At All’: ‘Evil Clowns’ and Ontological Crisis Under Late Capitalism,” Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association, Philadelphia PA. (Event cancelled due to COVID-19 outbreak.)

March 2020. “The Door Marked ‘Not Scary At All’: ‘Evil Clowns’ and the Monstrous Abstract,” American Comparative Literature Association, Chicago, IL. (Event cancelled due to COVID-19 outbreak.)

January 2020. “‘It Was Only Because I Was Radically Both’: Fin de Siècle Doppelgängers and the New British Cosmopolitanism,” Modern Language Association, Seattle, WA.

January 2020. “‘Many Books, Many Poes’: Pop-Culture Authorship and the Cult of Edgar Allan Poe,” Modern Language Association, Seattle, WA.

October 2019. “‘They Tortured Us and Pretended it Was an Education’: Netflix’s The Perfection as Neo-Grotesque For the #MeTooPhD Era,” Society for Comparative Literature and the Arts. Atlanta, GA.

April 2019. “Topophilic Perversions: Fetishizing Sites of Monstrosity in American Dark Tourism,”Of Gods and Monstersconference. San Marcos, TX.

March 2019. “Remapping Terra Obscura: The Fetishization of Hauntology in American Dark Tourism,” American Comparative Literature Association. Washington, DC.

October 2018. “Pennywise and Pound Foolish: Scary Clowns and the Monstrous Marketplace,” Society for Comparative Literature and the Arts, The Woodlands, TX.

June 2018. “Fantastic Machines and National Trauma: Imagining the Post- 9/11 Future in Tamora Pierce’s Tortall,” Children's Literature Association. San Antonio, TX.

October 2017. “(In)Hospitable Spaces: How American Horror Story Reconsiders Transcendental Homelessness in the Digital Age,” Society for Comparative Literature and the Arts, Baltimore, MD.

March 2017. “‘Trapped and Bedeviled’: Pop-Culture Authorship and the Cult of Edgar Allan Poe,” North Eastern Modern Language Association, Baltimore, MD.

November 2016. “The Unmappable Self: Heterotopic Place and Gothic Dualism in Poe’s ‘William Wilson,’” South Central Modern Language Association, Dallas, TX.

August 2016. “A Sword in the Hand of the Goddess: Postsecular and Feminist Intersections in Tamora Pierce’s Tortall,” Mythopoeic Society, San Antonio, TX.

February 2016. “Shadows of Similitude: The Tomb as Interstitial Place in Poe's ‘Morella,’” Frontiers and Borders in American Literature symposium, American Literature Association, San Antonio, TX.

May 2015. “‘Half Myself Has Buried My Other Half’: Early Modern Anxieties in Poe's ‘The Man That Was Used Up,’” American Literature Association, Boston, MD.

October 2014. “Wildness and Wilderness: Eco-Empowering the Earth Mother in Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, Beloved, and Home,” South Central Modern Language Association, Austin, TX.

October 2014. “The Natural Features of the Natural Other: An Ecocritical Analysis of the Skrælings in The Vinland Sagas,” Texas Medieval Association, Denton, TX.

February 2014. “Paradise Lost: An Ecocritically Oedipal Resolution,” Sigma Tau Delta International English Honors Society Conference, Savannah, GA.