Extended deadline!

EXTENDED DEADLINE! Abstracts accepted until Friday 1st March

Technology, Women, and Gothic-Horror On-Screen 

2 – 3 May 2019

University of Kent

Keynote speaker: Dr Lisa Purse (University of Reading)

 

CALL FOR PAPERS

 

Gothic and technology appear, on the surface, to evoke contradictory connotations. As David Punter and Glennis Byron highlight, the Gothic came to be a term associated with the “ornate and convoluted”, “excess and exaggeration, the product of the wild and the uncivilized, a world that constantly tended to overflow cultural boundaries” (Punter and Byron, 2004, 7). Technology, on the other hand, is a term often linked to science, innovation and progressive invention. If the Industrial Revolution is emblematic of what one imagines a technological revolution to be, then technology becomes synonymous with the associations defining 18th Century culture, described by Terry Castle as “the period as an age of reason and enlightenment – the aggressively rationalist imperatives of the epoch” (Castle, 1995, 8).

Yet technology and the Gothic have been linked and have interacted since the latter’s beginnings in fiction. From the earliest reception of the original novels that give our Gothic films their name, fans and critics alike referred to the “machinery” of the narratives, implying that that the mechanisms that made them go were audible. Clara Reeve, who wrote The Old English Baron – itself is a tad creaky – commented on The Castle of Otranto that “the machinery is so violent, that it destroys the effect it is intended to excite” (Reeve, 2008, 3). And Horace Walpole, himself, made reference to the story’s “engine” (Walpole, 2014, 6).  The Gothic can thus be conceptualised as metaphorically mechanical, a link explored within a different context by Jack Halberstam who writes that “Gothic fiction is a technology of subjectivity … designed to produce fear and desire within the reader” (Halberstam, 1995, 2).

Technology and the Gothic have also intersected in more literal terms, as with the horror created by the intersection of the two in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818). On the one hand, the novel stands as a canonical Gothic text, and Ellen Moers argues that the story can be defined as the Female Gothic, a term commonly associated with the women-in-peril narratives which later saw the influence of Gothic literature translated onto the cinema screen in Hollywood during the 1940s. On the other hand, the tale of an unnatural and scientific birth is credited with establishing the generic tropes of science fiction, a mode of storytelling which is indebted to technology and acknowledges “contemporary scientific knowledge and the scientific method”, as Barry Keith Grant suggests. He also continues: “Science fiction, quite unlike fantasy and horror, works to entertain alternative possibilities” (Grant, 2004, 17). However, Fred Botting notes that the combining of science fiction and Gothic – two “generic monsters” – reveals a “a long and interwoven association” whereby both genres “give form to a sense of otherness, a strangeness that is difficult to locate” (Botting, 2008, 131).

Our conference aims to explore this relationship between technology and the Gothic by focussing upon its intersection as depicted on screen within visual media, with a specific focus on how such concerns impact on gender representations and, in particular, women. This connection may be explored figuratively: the “machinery” identified in Gothic fiction can also be extended to the filmic Gothics which centre upon the Gothic heroine. The Hollywood 1940s Gothics possess noticeably excessive convolutions of plot, as with Sleep, My Love (1948), and one could argue this trend has continued in contemporary returns to the Old Dark House and horror with films like Crimson Peak (2015). Technology may also be physically present within these Gothic-horror films. If the “machinery is so violent” in Crimson Peak’s narrative, then this is additionally foregrounded within the diegesis: Thomas Sharpe’s engine for extracting the red clay from the ground stands as both a metaphor for the genre’s mechanical plot – drawing on familiar tropes which unearth deadly secrets – as well as functioning as a visual spectacle around which the climax of the film shall take place.

Actual mechanical or technological inventions which impact upon the story may be wide-ranging: the railway, cars, telephones, recording devices, electric light and gaslight are just some examples of technologies integrated into the narratives of Gothic films, often with the intention of contributing to the imperilment and oppression of the central heroine. Technology can also do this by evoking the uncanny, itself a phenomenon which forms “the background and indeed the modus operandi of much Gothic fiction” (Punter and Byron, 2004, 286). Tom Gunning demonstrates this when he recounts several versions in early cinema of a woman-in-jeopardy story, Heard Over the Phone, which could almost be Gothic in that the woman is in her own home and menaced there by a male assailant. Drawing on Freud’s musings upon the ambivalent nature of technology, Gunning highlights the ambiguous – and uncanny – position of the telephone: it is a device which brings the absent near through sound, but actually this serves only to underline the actual distances involved. Gothic-type narratives, gender, and technology merge in these early films to reveal “the darker aspects of the dream world of instant communication and the annihilation of space and time” (Gunning, 1991, 188).

More recent Gothic and Gothic-horror films may update these technologies to include computers, the Internet and mobile phones. Technology also includes film and the moving image itself: this conference will explore how filmic technologies mediate and emphasise the connection between technology, the Gothic, and gender, including through the use of visual effects. Film is a particularly apt medium through which to contemplate these ideas as cinema’s ontology embodies both technology’s scientific roots and the Gothic’s appeal to excess and the supernatural. As Murray Leeder notes: “With its ability to record and replay reality and its presentation of images that resemble the world but as intangible half-presences, cinema has been described as a haunted or ghostly medium from early on” (Leeder, 2015, 3).

These ideas may also be explored by expanding upon the original notion of Moer’s Female Gothic: if the literary Female Gothic is defined by female writers working in this mode, then this conference would also like to explore how female filmmakers have made use of Gothic-horror conventions. It is significant to note that the most iconic examples of Gothic films focusing on stories about the victimisation of women, particularly in the 1940s, were directed by men. By thinking about the technology behind the screen, this event will also consider what influence women filmmakers have had upon this tradition, including within present day, and what further reflections may be offered between this relationship of the Gothic to gender and technology.

With this third annual Gothic Feminism conference, we invite scholars to respond to the theme of technology in the woman-in-jeopardy strand of the Gothic and Gothic-horror film or television.

Topics can include but are not limited to:

– the tension between Gothic and technology as the supernatural, fantastic and paranoia versus the rational, reason and logic. How do these elements intersect with the representation of gender in film and television?

– the traditions of the Gothic heroine on-screen and her interaction with technology. Does technology help the female character or is it another agent of terror used against her?

– the technology behind the screen. How have female filmmakers used the genres of Gothic-horror to express themselves?

– the technology of the screen. How has the technology of cinema, including visual effects, been used, and how do these aspects interact with the representation of the central female protagonist/s?

Please submit proposals of 500 words, along with a short biographical note (250 words) to gothicfeminism2016@gmail.com by Friday 1st March 2019.

We welcome 20-minute conference papers as well as submissions for creative work or practice-as-research including, but not limited to, short films and video essays.

Conference organisers: Frances A. Kamm and TamarJeffers McDonald

https://gothicfeminism.com/

https://twitter.com/GothicFeminism

This conference is the third annual event from the Gothic Feminism project, working with the Melodrama Research Group in the Centre of Film and Media Research at the University of Kent. Gothic Feminism explores the representation of the Gothic heroine on-screen in her various incarnations. 

 

References

Botting, Fred. (2008). Gothic Romanced: Consumption, Gender and Technology in Contemporary Fictions. London and New York: Routledge.

Castle, Terry. (1995). The Female Thermometer: 18th Century Culture and the Invention of the Uncanny. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gunning, Tom. (1991). “Heard Over the Phone: The Lonely Villa and the de Lorde Tradition of the Terrors of Technology.” In: Screen. 32:2. 184-196. 

Grant, Barry Keith. (2004). “‘Sensuous Elaboration’: Reason and the Visible in the Science Fiction Film.” In: Redmond, Sean. (ed). Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader. New York, Chichester: Wallflower Press.

Halberstam, Jack. (1995). Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Leeder, Murray. (ed). (2015). Cinematic Ghosts: Haunting and Spectrality From Silent Cinema to the Digital Era. New York and London: Bloomsbury.

Punter, David and Glennis Byron. (2004). The Gothic. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Reeve, Clara. (2008). The Old English Baron. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Walpole, Horace. (2014). The Castle of Otranto. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

NEW Call for Papers: Technology, Women, and Gothic-Horror On-Screen

Technology, Women, and Gothic-Horror On-Screen 

2 – 3 May 2019

University of Kent

 

Keynote speaker: Dr Lisa Purse (University of Reading)

 

CALL FOR PAPERS

 

Gothic and technology appear, on the surface, to evoke contradictory connotations. As David Punter and Glennis Byron highlight, the Gothic came to be a term associated with the “ornate and convoluted”, “excess and exaggeration, the product of the wild and the uncivilized, a world that constantly tended to overflow cultural boundaries” (Punter and Byron, 2004, 7). Technology, on the other hand, is a term often linked to science, innovation and progressive invention. If the Industrial Revolution is emblematic of what one imagines a technological revolution to be, then technology becomes synonymous with the associations defining 18th Century culture, described by Terry Castle as “the period as an age of reason and enlightenment – the aggressively rationalist imperatives of the epoch” (Castle, 1995, 8).

Yet technology and the Gothic have been linked and have interacted since the latter’s beginnings in fiction. From the earliest reception of the original novels that give our Gothic films their name, fans and critics alike referred to the “machinery” of the narratives, implying that that the mechanisms that made them go were audible. Clara Reeve, who wrote The Old English Baron – itself is a tad creaky – commented on The Castle of Otranto that “the machinery is so violent, that it destroys the effect it is intended to excite” (Reeve, 2008, 3). And Horace Walpole, himself, made reference to the story’s “engine” (Walpole, 2014, 6).  The Gothic can thus be conceptualised as metaphorically mechanical, a link explored within a different context by Jack Halberstam who writes that “Gothic fiction is a technology of subjectivity … designed to produce fear and desire within the reader” (Halberstam, 1995, 2).

Technology and the Gothic have also intersected in more literal terms, as with the horror created by the intersection of the two in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818). On the one hand, the novel stands as a canonical Gothic text, and Ellen Moers argues that the story can be defined as the Female Gothic, a term commonly associated with the women-in-peril narratives which later saw the influence of Gothic literature translated onto the cinema screen in Hollywood during the 1940s. On the other hand, the tale of an unnatural and scientific birth is credited with establishing the generic tropes of science fiction, a mode of storytelling which is indebted to technology and acknowledges “contemporary scientific knowledge and the scientific method”, as Barry Keith Grant suggests. He also continues: “Science fiction, quite unlike fantasy and horror, works to entertain alternative possibilities” (Grant, 2004, 17). However, Fred Botting notes that the combining of science fiction and Gothic – two “generic monsters” – reveals a “a long and interwoven association” whereby both genres “give form to a sense of otherness, a strangeness that is difficult to locate” (Botting, 2008, 131).

Our conference aims to explore this relationship between technology and the Gothic by focussing upon its intersection as depicted on screen within visual media, with a specific focus on how such concerns impact on gender representations and, in particular, women. This connection may be explored figuratively: the “machinery” identified in Gothic fiction can also be extended to the filmic Gothics which centre upon the Gothic heroine. The Hollywood 1940s Gothics possess noticeably excessive convolutions of plot, as with Sleep, My Love (1948), and one could argue this trend has continued in contemporary returns to the Old Dark House and horror with films like Crimson Peak (2015). Technology may also be physically present within these Gothic-horror films. If the “machinery is so violent” in Crimson Peak’s narrative, then this is additionally foregrounded within the diegesis: Thomas Sharpe’s engine for extracting the red clay from the ground stands as both a metaphor for the genre’s mechanical plot – drawing on familiar tropes which unearth deadly secrets – as well as functioning as a visual spectacle around which the climax of the film shall take place.

Actual mechanical or technological inventions which impact upon the story may be wide-ranging: the railway, cars, telephones, recording devices, electric light and gaslight are just some examples of technologies integrated into the narratives of Gothic films, often with the intention of contributing to the imperilment and oppression of the central heroine. Technology can also do this by evoking the uncanny, itself a phenomenon which forms “the background and indeed the modus operandi of much Gothic fiction” (Punter and Byron, 2004, 286). Tom Gunning demonstrates this when he recounts several versions in early cinema of a woman-in-jeopardy story, Heard Over the Phone, which could almost be Gothic in that the woman is in her own home and menaced there by a male assailant. Drawing on Freud’s musings upon the ambivalent nature of technology, Gunning highlights the ambiguous – and uncanny – position of the telephone: it is a device which brings the absent near through sound, but actually this serves only to underline the actual distances involved. Gothic-type narratives, gender, and technology merge in these early films to reveal “the darker aspects of the dream world of instant communication and the annihilation of space and time” (Gunning, 1991, 188). 

More recent Gothic and Gothic-horror films may update these technologies to include computers, the Internet and mobile phones. Technology also includes film and the moving image itself: this conference will explore how filmic technologies mediate and emphasise the connection between technology, the Gothic, and gender, including through the use of visual effects. Film is a particularly apt medium through which to contemplate these ideas as cinema’s ontology embodies both technology’s scientific roots and the Gothic’s appeal to excess and the supernatural. As Murray Leeder notes: “With its ability to record and replay reality and its presentation of images that resemble the world but as intangible half-presences, cinema has been described as a haunted or ghostly medium from early on” (Leeder, 2015, 3).

These ideas may also be explored by expanding upon the original notion of Moer’s Female Gothic: if the literary Female Gothic is defined by female writers working in this mode, then this conference would also like to explore how female filmmakers have made use of Gothic-horror conventions. It is significant to note that the most iconic examples of Gothic films focusing on stories about the victimisation of women, particularly in the 1940s, were directed by men. By thinking about the technology behind the screen, this event will also consider what influence women filmmakers have had upon this tradition, including within present day, and what further reflections may be offered between this relationship of the Gothic to gender and technology.

With this third annual Gothic Feminism conference, we invite scholars to respond to the theme of technology in the woman-in-jeopardy strand of the Gothic and Gothic-horror film or television.

Topics can include but are not limited to:

– the tension between Gothic and technology as the supernatural, fantastic and paranoia versus the rational, reason and logic. How do these elements intersect with the representation of gender in film and television?

– the traditions of the Gothic heroine on-screen and her interaction with technology. Does technology help the female character or is it another agent of terror used against her?

– the technology behind the screen. How have female filmmakers used the genres of Gothic-horror to express themselves?

– the technology of the screen. How has the technology of cinema, including visual effects, been used, and how do these aspects interact with the representation of the central female protagonist/s?

Please submit proposals of 500 words, along with a short biographical note (250 words) to gothicfeminism2016@gmail.com by Friday 1st March 2019.

We welcome 20-minute conference papers as well as submissions for creative work or practice-as-research including, but not limited to, short films and video essays.  

Conference organisers: Frances A. Kamm and Tamar Jeffers McDonald 

https://gothicfeminism.com/

https://twitter.com/GothicFeminism

This conference is the third annual event from the Gothic Feminism project, working with the Melodrama Research Group in the Centre of Film and Media Research at the University of Kent. Gothic Feminism explores the representation of the Gothic heroine on-screen in her various incarnations. 

          

References

Botting, Fred. (2008). Gothic Romanced: Consumption, Gender and Technology in Contemporary Fictions. London and New York: Routledge.

Castle, Terry. (1995). The Female Thermometer: 18th Century Culture and the Invention of the Uncanny. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gunning, Tom. (1991). “Heard Over the Phone: The Lonely Villa and the de Lorde Tradition of the Terrors of Technology.” In: Screen. 32:2. 184-196. 

Grant, Barry Keith. (2004). “‘Sensuous Elaboration’: Reason and the Visible in the Science Fiction Film.” In: Redmond, Sean. (ed). Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader. New York, Chichester: Wallflower Press.

Halberstam, Jack. (1995). Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Leeder, Murray. (ed). (2015). Cinematic Ghosts: Haunting and Spectrality From Silent Cinema to the Digital Era. New York and London: Bloomsbury.

Punter, David and Glennis Byron. (2004). The Gothic. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Reeve, Clara. (2008). The Old English Baron. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Walpole, Horace. (2014). The Castle of Otranto. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

CFP for American Horror Story

Please see below for another exciting CFP, this time for an edited collection on American Horror Story. There are a few days left to submit a proposal!

Please direct queries to: AHSspecialissue@gmail.com

Call for Papers
Edited Collection: Gender, Sexuality and Queer Identities in American Horror Story
Editors:
Harriet Earle, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
Jessica Clark, University of Suffolk, UK
This call for papers seeks submissions that engage with the television series American Horror Story (produced by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk) as part of an edited collection on the theme of gender, sexuality and queer identity. Over seven seasons (so far), American Horror Story has received massive popular and academic interest for its bold and often apposite reworkings of a wide range of cultural tropes and folk stories, set against uniquely American backgrounds and played out through a distinct cast of characters. The series has included many nuanced – and also problematic – representations of sexuality and queer identities, as well as brought into question culturally entrenched issues of heteronormativity and mononormativity.
Papers should be between 7000-8000 words and the deadline for final submission is 31st January 2018. Papers should be submitted to the editors Harriet Earle and Jessica Clark via AHSspecialissue@gmail.com.
Submissions to this edited collection must focus on the wider theme of gender, sexuality and queerness in American Horror Story. Topics could include, but are not limited to, critical interrogations of:
– The development of queer representation in American popular culture
– Intersectionality, imagery and representation: femininity, masculinity, sexuality, disability, ethnicity, class, age, etc.
– Violence and/or sexual violence
– Queer bodies, identities and selves
– Sex, sexual bodies and sexual pleasure/desire
– Fandoms and cultural production
The list is by no means exhaustive and we are happy to consider any piece which works with some/all of the current six/seven series of American Horror Story or those which cross series boundaries with a strong thematic focus at their centre.
All authors are welcome to submit abstracts: from PhD candidates and early career researchers, to established academics. We look forward to receiving abstracts for consideration.
This exciting themed edition has evolved from a related but separate journal special issue on ‘AHS’ that Harriet and Jessica are editing. As such, the editors are in the process of approaching respected academic publishers to achieve the best possible publication terms for this volume. Authors will be kept continually informed about final publisher selection.
Publication schedule:
Submission of abstracts: 5th November 2017
Notification of abstract acceptance: 12th November 2017
Submission of full chapters : 15th April 2018
Publication date: To be confirmed

TV Horror conference: registration open!

Registration is now open for ‘At Home with Horror? Terror on the Small Screen’, a 3 day conference taking place at the University of Kent on Friday 27th October – Sunday 29th October 2017.

The keynote will be delivered by Dr Helen Wheatley (University of Warwick) and the programme features a great selection of papers, which you can view here: https://tvhomeofhorror.wordpress.com/

Many regular participants of Gothic Feminism will be there too, so we hope to see as many of you as possible!

To register, please visit: http://store.kent.ac.uk/product-catalogue/faculty-of-humanities/school-of-arts/arts-events/at-home-with-horror-terror-on-the-small-screen

For any queries please contact Katerina: kf214@kent.ac.uk

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Exciting new CFP: Women Make Horror

EDIT: Please note that submission for the proposal stage of the book has now closed. Alison will be in touch again in 2018 with another CFP for specific areas – so watch this space!

We are back after the summer and are thrilled to share an exciting opportunity to contribute to a new edited collection entitled: Women Make Horror: Filmmaking, Feminism, Genre, edited by Alison Peirse. The collection will be proposed for publication with Palgrave and potential contributors should get in touch with Alison by the 20th October 2017. You can find out more information below and here: Women Make Horror Edited Collection Overview. For further information or to suggest a chapter, please contact Alison here: alison.peirse@york.ac.uk

Women Make Horror: Filmmaking, Feminism, Genre
Edited Collection, Proposal to Palgrave October 2017
Edited by Alison Peirse
Overview
In the past five years, there has been a significant global breakthrough of women directors, screenwriters and producers working in the horror genre. Films such as The Babadook (2014, Jennifer Kent), A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014, Ana Lily Amirpour) and Évolution (2015, Lucile Hadžihalilović) interrogate taken-for-granted assumptions about genre, feminism and gender. As a result, film festivals are changing. Major genre festivals such as Dead by Dawn (Glasgow) and Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival are now screening women-made films, including screenwriter Sarah Daly’s The Unkindness of Ravens (2016, Lawrie Brewster). New women-only horror festivals such as Atlanta’s Women in Horror and Tokyo’s Scream Queen FilmFest are springing up to screen the huge range of new shorts and features including Berkshire County (2014, Audrey Cummings) and Slut (2014, Chloe Okuno). These filmmakers then take advantage of the new circuits of distribution. As well as theatrical and DVD / Blu-ray releases, they are streamed on Netflix and Amazon Prime, as well as specialist horror streaming services Screambox and Shudder.
Films, filmmakers and television shows are also now garnering extensive and international critical interest. Prevenge (2016, Alice Lowe), Raw (2016, Julia Ducournau), XX (2017, Benjamin et al), Egomaniac (2016, Kate Shenton), The Bad Batch (2016, Ana Lily Amirpour) and The Love Witch (2016, Anna Biller) have all been recently profiled in Rolling Stone (2016), the Guardian (2017) and Sight and Sound (2017). Recently, Broadly announced ‘welcome to the golden age of women-directed horror’ (2017). Earlier this month, Drew Barrymore’s production company Flower Films announced the production of Black Rose Anthology, a television horror series created entirely by women.
However, this does not mean that working as a woman practitioner in the genre is now straightforward. Gender inequality remains a huge problem. In 2016, 92% of the top 250 grossing films in the USA were directed by men and 77% had no women writers (Lauzen, 2017: 1). In the past ten years, less than 12% of all UK films have been directed by women (Directors UK, 2016). Horror is the only genre where women have the most screen time and speaking roles (Narayanan et al, 2016), yet are least likely to be employed in behind-the-scenes jobs (Lauzen, 2016: 3). Producer Jennifer Handorf recently commented in Screen Daily, ‘At FrightFest they still only had four films out of seventy from female directors. That’s not bragging rights’. Relatedly, in academia, horror has long been considered a misogynist genre, and much scholarship has identified horror film history as the domain of the male auteur, creating texts based on images of female fear for a presumed male audience and male pleasures. This leads us to the major problem that this project will investigate.
There is a substantial gap in academic thinking about women and horror film and TV, and a significant lack of work on genre in scholarly analyses of women horror practitioners. In academia, we lack any critical or methodological tools to investigate this complex and contradictory state of affairs. In the 1990s, genre scholarship began to tentatively reflect upon the potential pleasures of horror for a female audience (Williams, 1991). There was a brief turn to consider women as real horror film audiences (as opposed to hypothetical spectators) (Cherry, 1999) but this has gained little traction. In academia, women do not make horror films. They are on screen, to be looked-at, or, at best, they are now able to look. Similarly, in existing scholarship on women filmmakers, and in gender inequalities in media industries, horror is almost never discussed. There is a complete absence of engagement with the potential feminist implications of horror films by women, working in a genre that they are told is not for them, and in an industry that discriminates against them (see the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s 2017 ruling that major studios systematically discriminate against women directors).
In addition, the research for this proposal has revealed that the above surge in women-made horror is not entirely unprecedented. There is an invisible history of women working in the horror genre since the 1950s. However, it is entirely undiscussed in horror film histories, which are written by male writers about male practitioners. This historical, critical and methodological gap is so obvious, and explicit, it’s now left to the filmmakers themselves to engage with this problem. As writer-director Jovanka Vuckovic explains, ‘XX is a direct response to the lack of opportunities for women in the horror genre in particular… an area where women have been historically misrepresented onscreen and under-represented behind the camera’.
Research Questions
No scholar has yet asked what happens in horror when sense-making is done by women, rather than done to women. This project raises and then answers this question. As a whole, it is underpinned by three interlocking sets of research questions:
1. Cultural perception. Horror is a misogynist genre (Hunt, 1992; Rieser, 2001). How can a woman want to make these films (let alone watch them)? Do the women who make these films consider themselves feminist, or that their films are feminist? Why?
2. The Politics of Storytelling. What kinds of stories are told in these films? How do
they represent women? Are they distinctive from, or similar to, stories told in horror
films made by male teams?
3. The Politics of Authorship. Paraphrasing Annette Kuhn’s Women’s Pictures, a
horror film made by a woman may not be feminist, and men may make feminist horror films. So, what makes a horror film either a) a woman’s film or b) feminist? Is it the attributes of the author, attitudes inherent in the work, or because of the way the film can be read?
The project utilises a variety of methodological approaches, across numerous disciplines, from a range of academics who are at different stages in their careers. It will illuminate the impact of women horror practitioners on a genre long considered to be created by men for male audiences, and canonised as such by male scholars. It charts the contributions of women to the genre since the 1950s, then analyses and contextualises the new wave of women horror filmmakers. It explores not only their understanding of and experience of feminism within an industrial context, but also the key story tropes that emerge in women-made horror film. It develops new interdisciplinary methods and approaches for studying the relationship between filmmaking, feminism and genre. In sum, it will create: a) an alternative feminist history at odds with prevailing academic studies of the horror genre, b) a new, interdisciplinary research area across (at the very least) horror studies, feminist film theory and media industry studies, and c) a set of analytical and methodological tools with which to analyse contemporary working practices in genre filmmaking.

Definitions
1. In terms of filmmaking texts, I am happy to look (way) beyond theatrical, feature length releases, to readily encompass shorts, television plays and series, VoD, streaming services, web series etc. I’m very interested in independent / no / low budget and short productions – this is the arena in which many women are working.
2. I’m also keen to explore cultural frameworks for developing and publicising women practitioners and horror, such as horror film festivals and women-only festivals (e.g. Frightfest, Atlanta’s Women in Horror), women writing about horror film / horror film magazines (e.g. Kat Ellinger / Diabolique), the development of streaming services (e.g. BlackBox Tv Studios), podcasts and vlog creators, funding initatives for women / horror practitioners (e.g. BAFTA Elevate, Warp X’s Darklight)
3. There is no limitation on academic approach. Formal / theoretical analysis is grand, as is media industries, audience and reception studies, exploitation and distribution, specific studios, practitioner interview and contextualisation, analysis of screenplays / production documentation, etc. The wider the range of methodologies across the collection the better. If you have a text that you feel passionate about, and fits with the collection, but don’t feel you have industry ‘data’ or practitioner or archival access to support your approach, that is OK. For example, if you want to look at a film or practitioner in terms of national cinemas, the European avant-garde, the gothic, etc., please do not be put off. An important element of this book will be highlighting the role women played in creating iconic films – and simply discussing this as a fact is important in and of itself. So, even if you can’t get Juliet Snowden to talk to you about writing 2014’s Ouija (!), the fact that you will frame your analysis within the context of the woman’s contribution makes your work valuable to this collection.
Equally, historical overviews of the changing theoretical approaches to women academics studying horror film (e.g. Clover, Creed, Williams, Pinedo) and a consideration of their work in the current filmmaking climate are most welcome.
4. In terms of practitioners, most of this proposal has been written with screenwriters, producers and directors in mind, as this is where my own interests in storytelling lie. However, I am very keen to extend this out to include all above the line roles (e.g. actor) and definitely below-the-line crew (DoP, editor etc).
Initial Indicative List of Potential Films
(but please do feel free to go way beyond this list, and think about telly, web series etc).
1960s – 1970s
• Blood Bath (1966, wr & dir Stephanie Rothman & Jack Hill, Yugoslavia / US, feature)
• The Velvet Vampire (1971, co-wr & dir Stephanie Rothman, USA / Phillipines, feature)
• Halloween (1978, John Carpenter, co-wr & pr Debra Hill, USA, feature)
1980s
• The Fog (1980, John Carpenter, co-wr & co pr Debra Hill, USA, feature)
• The Slumber Party Massacre (1982, Amy Holden-Jones, wr Rita Mae Brown, USA, feature)
• The Sorority House Massacre (1986, Carol Frank, USA, feature)
• Blood Diner (1987, Jackie Kong, USA, feature)
• The Slumber Party Massacre II (1987, dir, wr & co-pr Deborah Brock, USA, feature)
• Near Dark (1987, co-wr & dir Kathryn Bigelow, USA, feature)
• Pet Sematary (1989, Mary Lambert, USA, feature)
• Dance of the Damned (1989, co-wr & dir Katt Shea, USA, feature)
1990s
• The Slumber Party Massacre III (1990, dir Sally Mattison, wr & pr Catherine Cyran, USA, feature)
• Mirror Mirror (1990, Marina Sargenti, wr Annette & Gina Cascone, USA, feature)
• Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991, Rachel Talalay, USA, feature)
• Tale of a Vampire (1992, wr & dir Shimako Sato, UK, feature)
• Organ (1996, wr, dir & cin Kei Fujiwara, Japan, feature)
• Office Killer (1997, Cindy Sherman, USA, feature)
• The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999, Katt Shea, USA, feature)
• Ravenous (1999, Antonia Bird, Czech / UK / USA, feature)
2000s
• American Psycho (2000, co-wr & dir Mary Harron, co-wr Guinevere Turner, USA, feature)
• Ginger Snaps (2000, John Fawcett, wr Karen Walton, pr Karen Lee Hall, Canada, feature)
• Trouble Every Day (2002, co-wr & dir Claire Denis, France / Germany / Japan, feature)
• Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed (2004, Brett Sullivan, wr Megan Martin, pr Paula Devonshire, Canada, feature)
• Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004, Grant Harvey, wr Christina Ray, pr Paula Devonshire, Canada, feature)
• Pathogen (2006, wr & dir Emily Hagins, USA, feature)
• The Dead Outside (2008, co-wr & dir Kerry Anne Mullaney, UK, feature)
• Amer (2009, wr & dir Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani, France/Belgium, feature)
• The Retelling (2009, wr & dir Emily Hagins, USA, feature)
• Jennifer’s Body (2009, dir Karyn Kusama, wr Diablo Cody, ed. Plummy Tucker, USA, feature)
2010s – (split into features, anthologies, shorts)
Shorts
• Goodnight My Love (2012, Kellee Terell, USA, short)
• Slut (2014, wr & dir Chloe Okuno, USA, short)
• Blame (2014, wr & dir Kellee Terell, USA, short)
• El Gigante (2014, Gigi Saul Guerrero & Luke Bramley, Canada, short)
• The Stylist (2016, Jill Sixx Gevargizian, pr Sarah Sharp, USA, short)
• Nasty (2016, co-wr & dir Prano Bailey-Bond, UK, short)

Or, the brand-new, 2017 #weareweirdos tour, organised by The Final Girls, featuring female-directed horror shorts: The Puppet Man (Jacqueline Castel), Undress Me (Amelia Moses), Pulse ( Becki Pantling), I Should Have Run (Gabriela Staniszewska), Sorry We’re Closed (Alexis Makepeace), A Mother of Monsters (Julia Zanin de Paula), Dead.Tissue.Love (Natasha Austin-Green), Don’t Think of a Pink Elephant (Suraya Raja), Shortcut (Prano Bailey Bond), I Want You Inside Me (Alice Shindelar).
Anthologies
• The ABCs of Death (2012, inc wr & dir Hélène Cattet, USA / NZ, anthology)
• V/H/S (2012, inc. pr Roxanne Benjamin, cin Victoria K. Warren, USA, anthology)
• The ABCs of Death 2 (2014, inc wr & dir Kristina Buožytė; dir Jen & Sylvia Soska; pr Jenn Wexler, multiple countries, anthology)
• Southbound (2015, anthology, wr, dir & pr Roxanne Benjamin; wr Susan Burke, USA anthology)
• Holidays (2016, anthology, inc. wr, dir & ed Sarah Adina Smith, dir Ellen Reid, cin Rebecca Joelson, USA, anthology)
• XX (2017, wr, dir & pr Roxanne Benjamin, wr & dir Karyn Kusama, co-wr & dir Jovanka Vuckovic, co-wr & dir Annie Clarke, Canada / USA, anthology)
Features
• Silent House (2011, Chris Kentis & Laura Lau; pr Laura Lau, France, feature)
• Kill List (2011, Ben Wheatley, co-wr & ed Amy Jump, UK, feature)
• American Mary (2012, wr & dir Jen & Sylvia Soska, Canada, feature)
• Soulmate (2013, wr & dir Axelle Carolyn, UK, feature)
• The Borderlands (2013, Elliot Goldner, pr Jennifer Handorf, UK, feature)
• Carrie (2013, Kimberley Peirce, co-ed Nancy Richardson, USA, feature)
• Ritual (2013, Mickey Keating, pr Chelsea Peter, ed Valerie Krulfeifer, USA, feature)
• Warm Bodies (2013, Jonathan Levine, ed Nancy Richardson, USA / Canada, feature)
• What We Do in the Shadows (2014, Jemaine Clement &Taika Waititi, ed Yana Gorskaya, New Zealand, feature)
• Goodnight Mommy (2014, wr & dir Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala, Austria, feature)
• The Babadook (2014, wr & dir Jennifer Kent, pr Kristina Ceyton, Australia / Canada, feature)
• Honeymoon (2014, co-wr & dir Leigh Janiak, pr Esme Howard, musHeather McIntosh, USA, feature)
• Tormented / Berkshire County (2014, dir & pro Audrey Cummings, Canada, feature)
• A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014, wr & dir Ana Lily Amirpour, USA, feature)
• Inner Demon (2014, wr & dir Ursula Dabrowsky, pr Sue Brown & Julie Byrne, Australia, feature)
• The Lesson (2015, wr & dir Ruth Platt, UK, feature)
• Rage: Midsummer’s Eve (2015, wr, dir & ed Tii Ricks, co-ed Maria Haipus, USA, feature)
• Green Room (2015, Jeremy Saulnier, ed Julie Bloch, USA, feature)
• Évolution (2015, co-wr & dir Lucile Hadžihalilović, pr Ángeles Hernández & Sylvie Pialat, France / Belgium / Spain, feature)
• The Invitation (2015, Karyn Kusama, pr Martha Griffin, ed Plummy Tucker, USA, feature)
• The Unkindness of Ravens (2016, Lawrie Brewster, wr Sarah Daly, UK, feature)
• Egomaniac (2016, wr, dir, pr & ed Kate Shenton, pr Sarah Barker, UK, feature)
• The Bad Batch (2016, wr & dir Ana Lily Amirpour, USA, feature)
• Prevenge (2016, wr & dir Alice Lowe, pr Jennifer Handorf, UK, feature)
• Viral (2016, Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman, wr Barbara Marshall, pr Sheryll Clark, cin Magdalena Górka, USA, feature)
• Blood Hunters (2016, dir & pr Tricia Lee, ed Jane MacRae, Canada, feature)
• Raw (2016, wr & dir Julia Ducournau, France / Belgium / Italy, feature)
• The Neon Demon (2016, Nicolas Winding Refn, co-wr Mary Laws & Polly Stenham, pr Lene Børglum, cin Natasha Braier, Denmark / France / USA, feature)
• The Love Witch (2016, wr, dir, pr, mus & ed Anna Biller, USA, feature)
• Wish Upon (2017, John R. Leonetti, wr Barbara Marshall, pr Sheryll Clark, USA / Canada, feature)
• The Bye Bye Man (2017, Stacy Title, USA / China, feature)
Potential Practitioner Case Studies:
• screenwriter Barbara Marshall
• editor Amy Jump
• director Stephanie Rothman
• writer / director Kei Fujiwara
• producer Jenn Wexler
• director Anna Biller
• producer / director Roxanne Benjamin
• producer / writer Debra Hill
• writer / director Jen & Sylvia Soska (AKA the Twisted Twins)
• writer / director Ana Lily Amirpour
• producer Jennifer Handorf
• editor Plummy Tucker and / or Tucker’s collaboration with director Karyn Kusama.
Potential Film Festival Case Studies:
Scream Queen FilmFest (Japan); Women in Horror (USA), Underwire (UK), Stranger With My Face (Australia), Abertoir (Wales), Frighfest (UK), Dead by Dawn (UK), Etheria Film Night (USA), Sitges (Spain), BIFF – Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival (Belgium), PiFAN – Bucheon Int. Fantastic Film Festival (South Korea), Screamfest (USA)
Provisional Timetable
• January 2018
Proposal accepted by Palgrave, contract sent out
• October 2018
5000 – 7000 word chapters due
• December 2018
Edited chapters returned to authors for final submission
• February 2019
Final submission chapters returned to editor
• Summer 2019
Book submission to Palgrave
• Spring – Summer 2020
Book publication. Champagne and feasting.

Conference Closing Remarks

My sincerest thanks to everybody who came to participate in and support our second Gothic Feminism conference on the representation of women in Gothic and horror cinema.

A special thank you to our keynote speaker Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes for his excellent keynote which perfectly captured the mood and themes of this conference by talking about “What Final Girls Did Next: Horror Heroines in the Age of Postfeminism”. Xavi’s talk opened events and, in a particularly apt fashion, placed an emphasis upon feminism and the discourses of post-feminism. Gothic Feminism is, of course, the name of our research group which generated this conference and the name is no accident: the aim of the group is to unapologetically focus on women and their representation on the cinema screen. Our activities are relatively modest but we do sincerely hope to contribute to that under-researched area of the Gothic in film which Xavi identified in his talk.

The name Gothic Feminism also poignantly incorporates two particular points Xavi emphasised in his talk. First Xavi asserted how the Gothic and horror provide “empowering tools through which to study gender representation”, as well as related issues such as the study of women filmmakers and reception studies (but with a view to avoid essentialist conclusions). Second, there is a sense that cinema (and particularly contemporary cinema) actively engages with these discussions and provides a forum through which we can explore the complexities of feminism and post-feminism (or, as Xavi’s talk discussed, post-feminisms) in the 21st Century.

In my opening remarks and response to Xavi’s talk, I mentioned how many of the above issues are also embodied by the slippage in definitions and boundaries between Gothic and horror. As the call for papers for this event highlighted, Gothic and horror each have their own distinctive traditions for female representations yet these are very much comparable in respect to the mode or genre’s relationship to feminism: in both Gothic and horror, we have films which have central, female protagonists who have narrative and visual agency, and yet whose activities are contained within stories of violence, threat and oppression. The difficult question Gothic and horror equally pose is: are these texts exploitative in their representations, or are they using such plots in order to challenge, undermine and ultimately challenge the inequality of women experienced in real life?

And it is testament to this similarity between Gothic and horror in respect to women that the key examples Xavi identified in his talk could be classified as either or both. These include: Crimson Peak, The Witch and Under the Shadow. These examples are horror films – and one could argue for the presence of the archetypal Final Girl in each of these narratives – and yet Xavi also notes how these women are Gothic heroines. So we must ask ourselves: what relationship does Gothic have to horror – or horror to the Gothic – in respect to female representation? What can we say about the centrality given to female performance in both these genres/modes? How does this relate to feminism?

How does one define this feminism or post-feminism? Should we, following on from Xavi’s talk, be discussing the concept in a way which emphasises multi-faceted approaches? Therefore should we speak of Gothic or horror feminisms? And, in light of this, are the women in these films ultimately women-in-peril of the Gothic heroine kind, or are they Final Girls, or are they both?

The Gothic and horror genre is (to borrow Xavi’s terminology once again) a “language” through which to discuss these issues. This conference enabled us to begin a fruitful debate which extends this language, establishing an inclusive but diverse vocabulary in order to explore the connections between feminism, female representation, the Gothic and horror.

In doing so, the conference far exceeded our expectations in that we saw papers which covered a broad range of films, topics and female protagonists, highlighting discourses between texts under the heading of Gothic and horror. This conversation opened with Crimson Peak as the film nicely exemplifies the blurring between these two within contemporary film, but this was only a fragment of the wider discussion. We have taken a journey through cinematic history where the heroines may be old or young, the victim or the aggressor, human or supernatural or mechanical, and maybe not even gendered at all; or, at least, gender is highlighted to be another construction, a concept of porous definitions.

This debate on Gothic and horror has highlighted mainstream films, particularly those made in the US, but it also crossed national boundaries, as well as genres and even mediums: this discussion is just as relevant to television and videogames.

There were several recurring themes: the works of Doane, Clover, Kristeva and Creed were cited often, and Freudian analysis – particularly the evocation of the uncanny – haunted many of the papers given. There was an on-going debate on the question of genre: what makes a Gothic or horror film, and what term should be used to incorporate such definitions? Over the course of the conference, various names were utilised and discussed, including: Gothic, horror, Female Gothic, Gothic Romance, Gothic fairy tale, eco-Gothic, melodrama, film noir (or neo-retro noir), Gothic horror, comedy, folk horror, slasher film, possession films, vampires, survival horror.

The diversity of genre labelling possible also speaks to another central theme of the conference: the tensions that exist between borders and the subversion of these perceived boundaries. The variety of genres listed above are a good example of this, which many papers explored by discussing how conventional genre tropes could be undermined or transformed in the representation of the central female protagonist. Importantly, many papers highlighted how this process exists as a dialectic relationship with its knowing audience: contemporary films, in particular, draw upon and then subvert the viewer’s previous conceptions of the conventional Gothic heroine or Final Girl. This raised another important issue implicit in several presentations: one must consider how the women on screen relate to spectators in real life as this, of course, has significant ramifications in how such texts relate to feminist discourses.

During the conference there was a panel called “transgressive women” and, indeed, the term perhaps best describes the protagonists seen in these films and shows. These women defy easy definitions or categorisation and, together, these heroines present a complex and complicated picture of how women in Gothic and horror are represented. And that, perhaps, is the most important point: these characters necessitate the need for interpretation and evaluation as we assess how these stories of fear and terror exploit, celebrate or appropriate these tales in their depiction of the female experience.

And I am reminded once again of Xavi’s phrase from his keynote: Gothic and horror are “empowering tools through which to study gender representation.”

So we end where we started, at the beginning of this event with Xavi’s talk on feminism and this, I think, is particularly apt: as the conference has helped to show it is within feminism, post-feminism or feminisms which is where all conversations of this topic should begin, and not end.

Thank you all so much again for your contributions to the event.

Photo 26-05-2017, 13 59 52

Conference this week!

Gothic Feminism 2017 is nearly upon us and here are just some final reminders for those travelling to Kent this week:

Conference location

The conference will take place in the Grimond building on the Canterbury campus of the University of Kent:

Grimond Building

University of Kent

Canterbury

Kent

CT2 7NZ

You will find the registration desk in the foyer area directly in front of you as you enter through the main entrance.

Registration

Registration will take place between 9am – 9.30am.

The conference shall begin at 9.30am.

Travelling to Kent

For further information on travelling to Kent, please see: https://gothicfeminism.com/travelling-to-kent/

Film screening

For those of you who have reserved a cinema ticket, The Eyes of My Mother screening will take place at the Canterbury Curzon at 7pm on Thursday 25th May, located here:

Westgate Hall Road

Canterbury

CT1 2BT

If you reserved a ticket, your name has already been sent to the Curzon. On the night of the screening you will need to collect and pay for your ticket (which will be £10.50). When collecting your ticket, tell the staff you are part of the Gothic Feminism conference and have a reservation (to ensure you receive the discount).

If you have not reserved a ticket but would like to attend the screening, then there may still be tickets available on the day. You are advised to visit the Curzon box office on the day and ask if there are any seats available. If so, you should again say you are part of the Gothic Feminism conference so that you receive the same discount.

Auteur Publishing stall

We are very lucky this year to be joined again by John from Auteur Publishing who will have a stall with a selection of titles on Gothic and horror available to buy. So do take a look and maybe treat yourself to a book or two?!

Conference report

We are looking for a volunteer to write a conference report of the three days to be published in a special issue of a journal. If you are interested in writing the report then please do get in touch.

 

We look forward to seeing you soon!

GothFem2 logo

Get Out at the Gulbenkian

Dr Frances A. Kamm (me!) will be providing the introduction for the hugely successful Get Out at the Gulbenkian cinema on Tuesday 9th May at 7pm.

Get Out is the directorial debut of Jordan Peele and produced by Blumhouse Productions, and the film has been widely praised by critics and audiences alike. The film tells the story of Chris, who is in a interracial relationship with Rose, as he visits the latter’s parents and meets her strange extended family…

The introduction shall reflect upon the film’s success as a small-budget horror film, outlining why the film has been celebrated for its discussion of race and the African-American experience, particularly from the perspective of a young, black man. I shall also discuss the influences which are present in the film, including how the Gothic can be seen inspire the film’s narrative and tone, with the topic of gender now supplanted by discourses on race.

Tickets for the film are available here. (Please note: students are able to purchase 2 for 1 tickets for this screening).

I hope to see you there!

get out