Vicki Madden

Thesis title: Horror of Personality: Exploring the gothicization of depictions of mental illness in post-World War II American Fiction


Vicki earned both an MA and MScR with distinction from the University of Edinburgh. She began her PhD on American gothic fiction in 2015 under the guidance of Dr Ken Millard.

In her first year of study, Vicki's article “'We found the witch, may we burn her?': Suburban gothic, witch-hunting, and anxiety-induced conformity in Stephen King’s Carrie" was accepted for publication by the Journal of American Culture. She also co-organised LLC Blethers: An Evening of Academic Storytelling, an informal interdisciplinary conference showcasing postgraduate life and research.

In the past, Vicki has been a writer and editor for Inciting Sparks, an interdisciplinary, multimedia blog that shares insights into arts and humanities research. Currently, she is the co-editor of FORUM: University of Edinburgh’s Postgraduate Journal of Culture & the Arts, and acts as an editor for Project Myopia, an initiative that strives to diversify the University of Edinburgh’s English Literature curriculum by highlighting key works from marginalised voices. She is also the co-founder and co-convenor of LLC's bi-weekly American Television Reading Group.

Undergraduate teaching

  • English Literature 2 tutor (semester two)

Research summary

Vicki’s research explores the ways in which mental illness, particularly disorders of personality, have been gothicised in post-World War II American fiction. By specifically examining the intersections between literature, social history, and concurrent developments in psychiatry, her project traces the progression of the American psychological thriller from 1952 to 1990, with an emphasis on gender and the influence of psychoanalysis. Vicki’s dissertation centres on the themes of deviance, monstrosity, mythology, and the uncanny while engaging a number of prolific American writers such as Patricia Highsmith, Robert Bloch, Stephen King, and Thomas Harris. Her wider research interests include Victorian and fin-de-siècle gothic, weird fiction, feminist psychoanalytic theory, and the suburban gothic, on which she wrote her master’s thesis.

Project activity

Alongside her Edinburgh colleagues Joanna Wilson and Tim Craven, as well as Jamie Redgate and Ben Noad from the Universities of Glasgow and Stirling, Vicki is currently co-organising an interdisciplinary medical humanities conference entitled "Madness, Mental Illness and Mind Doctors in 20th and 21st Century Popular Culture," due to take place at the University of Edinburgh from 3-4 May 2018.

More details about the conference are available through our website at Twitter updates will also be posted via @MadPopCulture.

Current project grants

IAD Action Fund (Regular Grant)

Past project grants

LLC Student-Led Initiative Funding Grant
Innovative Learning Week Funding Grant


  • Co-organiser of the "Madness, Mental Illness and Mind Doctors in 20th and 21st Century Popular Culture" conference, to be held at the University of Edinburgh on 3-4 May, 2018.
  • Co-organised the LLC's Latest Learning Colloquy as part of the department's "Getting Over the Fear" project, serving as conference programme chair and publicity officer (2014).

Papers delivered

  • “‘Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?’: Gothic feminism and the final girl in The Witch.” Gothic Feminism: Women in Peril or Final Girls? Representing Women in Gothic and Horror Cinema, 24-26 May, 2017, University of Kent. Conference Presentation.
  • “Bluebeard’s Castle Redux: Hommes fatals and patriarchal spaces in Psycho and American Gothic.” Deeper than Swords: Fear and Loathing in Fantasy and Folklore, 19-20 January 2017, University of Edinburgh. Conference Presentation.
  • “Perpetual adolescence and the suburban gothic in Jeffrey Eugenides’s gothic suburbia.” Temporal Discombobulations: Time and experience of the gothic, 22-24 August 2017, University of Surrey. Conference Presentation.

Academic Publications

  • “‘We found the witch, may we burn her?’: Suburban gothic, witch-hunting and anxiety-induced conformity in Stephen King’s Carrie.” The Journal of American Culture, vol. 40, no. 1, 2017, pp. 7-20.

Blog Posts

  • "Shirley Jackson's The Bird's Nest." Project Myopia. Project Myopia, 25 Mar 2017. Web.
  • "Trumpocalypse Now: Musings on what lies ahead." Inciting Sparks. Inciting Sparks, 9 Jan 2017. Web.
  • "Donald Trump: Psychopath." Inciting Sparks. Inciting Sparks, 27 Aug 2016. Web.
  • "Hungry for Murder: Interrogating America's Obsession with True Crime." Inciting Sparks. Inciting Sparks, 30 May 2016. Web.