Real Terror in an Unreal Place
: Haunted Hollywood and Transplanted Trauma

  • Jordan Clark Osborne

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The multi-faceted nature of Los Angeles’ vast, vibrant body of critical and creative work provides an all- encompassing study of the city. To those native to the city, experiencing the unfiltered version of Los Angeles every day, it may present a misconception. However, as a writer who has only experienced the Los Angeles rendered in books, cinema, and critical theory, it is difficult to fully engage with the city as elucidated by its denizens. Yet I believe that does not lessen the vision of Los Angeles projected to a watching, reading world. It is physical reality pitted against role-playing fantasy and the many sides of this metropolis are represented in that disparity. A critical exegesis may exclusively seek to emphasize and rectify this conflict, but I think that it is more provocative to splinter what this unreal Los Angeles can become. The city’s heterogeneity presents a litany of stories to explore but my exegesis, and its unpacking of my creative artifact, inverts this hallmark of Los Angeles’ canon of literature/cinema. As a writer redefining what Los Angeles means to them, it is a matter of injecting and extracting. Los Angeles’ textual and cinematic influences are plotted in the dissection of the likes of Didion, Banham, and Fine but a new fictional Los Angeles emerges with the inclusion of exterior reference. In this vein, Los Angeles becomes a location that attracts for a different reason. Themes of identity, trauma, and intertextual distortion, caught in a maelstrom of horror, brings an already unstable Los Angeles under the spotlight. Consequently, this instability becomes a tool for exploring the self as projected against the city. This exegesis argues for this new understanding of Los Angeles and the individual tethered to the city in a different way. One that both acknowledges and rejects Los Angeles’ traits in favor of characteristics that split the difference between reality and twisted fictional expectation.
Date of Award18 Apr 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorSteven O'Brien (Supervisor), Rebecca Janicker (Supervisor) & Jane Marianne Chandler (Supervisor)

Cite this