About the researcher

Vik Gill is working on a feminist supernatural Cornish Gothic novel as part of a practice-based PhD thesis. Key themes of her research include vengeful ghosts, feminist vigilantes, and Cornwall as a site for crime fiction. Other research interests include representations of older women’s selfhood, sexuality, and spirituality in crime, gothic and transgressive fiction and cinema.  

Key research interests

  • Crime fiction 
  • Feminist theory  
  • Gothic Literature 
  • Horror 
  • Literary criticism and theory 
  • The Occult 
  • Supernatural studies 
  • Transgressive fiction 

Vik Gill researcher profile photo
Vik Gill

PhD abstract

Thesis title

The Ghost of Vicarage Row: Crossing the Threshold of Cornish Gothic, Crime and Feminist Noir. 


How can a novel examine the Cornish Gothic as a mode for twenty-first century transgressive crime and ghost narratives? 

Fiction-based research affords opportunities for exploring topics that can be difficult to approach, including the promulgation of empathy. Many women authors have used the Gothic mode, crime fiction, and ghost stories to critique systems of patriarchal power in which women are devalued and to challenge female identities portrayed in the cultural imagination. The concept of a female ghost seeking retribution for harm that it endured as a living person is part of many folklore traditions. The Gothic mode provides a home for vengeful ghosts, and ghost stories offer opportunities to explore revenge and anger directed at men as a facet of the female experience.  

Divisions between Gothic and crime fiction have been said to reflect the changing tastes of popular culture rather than delineating key tenets of either genre. Their commonalities reflect the permeable nature of crime fiction; indeed scholars have argued that ghosts arise from crime. Within contemporary crime fiction, literary noir holds space for exploring female trauma and cultivating empathy for survivors. My thesis will argue that the female vengeful ghost prevalent in the Gothic mode has much in common with the feminist vigilante trope found in crime fiction. My feminist supernatural novel, set in the twenty-first-century, is inspired by crime stories centring female vigilantes and by gothic literature foregrounding vengeful ghosts, all drawn from a variety of forms.  

As a central element of the craft of writing fiction, a strong sense of place is essential for Gothic storytelling. Cornwall’s economic and physical geography inform themes of place and identity operating within the Cornish Gothic mode. These themes include heritage, dark tourism and the romantic sublime. My research will explore Cornwall as a tourist destination and a dark economy in a twenty-first-century Gothic context.