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




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


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:

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



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

Call for papers: At Home with Horror?

Our colleagues at the University of Kent, and members of the Gothic Feminism group,  Katerina Flint-Nicol and Ann-Marie Fleming have announced an exciting call for papers on horror on television. The conference will take place at Kent on the 27th – 28th October 2017 – just in time for Halloween! – and the keynote speaker will be Dr Helen Wheatley. Please see the CFP below. All queries should be directed to and you can find out more information here:

Flyer #2

At home with horror? Terror on the small screen
27th-28th October 2017
University of Kent
Keynote speaker: Dr Helen Wheatley (University of Warwick)
The recent horror output on TV and the small screen challenges what Matt Hills found to be the overriding assumption ‘that film is the [horror] genre’s ‘natural’ home’ (Hills 2005, 111). Programmes such as American Horror Story, Penny Dreadful and The Walking Dead are aligned to ‘‘quality TV’, yet use horror imagery and ideas to present a form and style of television that is ‘not ordinary’’ (Johnston 2016, 11). Developments in industrial practices and production technology have resulted in a more spectacular horror in the medium, which Hills argues is the ‘making cinematic’ of television drama (Hills 2010, 23). The generic hybridity of television programmes such as Whitechapel, and Ripper Street allow conventions of the horror genre to be employed within the narrative and aesthetics, creating new possibilities for the animation of horror on the small screen. Series such as Bates Motel and Scream adapt cinematic horror to a serial format, positioning the small screen (including terrestrial, satellite and online formats) as the new home for horror.
The history of television and horror has often displayed a problematic relationship. As a medium that operates within a domestic setting, television has previously been viewed as incompatible with ‘authentic’ horror. Television has been approached as incapable of mobilizing the intense audience reactions associated with the genre and seen as a medium ‘restricted’ in its ability to scare and horrify audiences partly due to censorship constraints (Waller 1987) and scheduling arrangements. Such industrial practices have been seen as tempering the genre’s aesthetic agency resulting in inferior cinematic imitations or, ‘degraded made-for-TV sequels’ (Waller 1987, 146). For Waller, the technology of television compounded the medium’s ability to animate horror and directed its initial move towards a more ‘restrained’ form of the genre such as adapting literary ghost stories and screening RKO productions of the 1940s (Ibid 1987). Inferior quality of colour and resolution provided the opportunity to suggest rather than show. Horror then, has presented a challenge for television: how can the genre be positioned in such a family orientated and domesticated medium? As Hills explains, ‘In such a context, horror is conceptualised as a genre that calls for non- prime-time scheduling… and [thus] automatically excluded from attracting a mass audience despite the popularity of the genre in other media’ (Hills 2005, 118).
Helen Wheatley’s monograph, Gothic Television (2006), challenges the approach of television as a limiting medium for horror, and instead focuses on how the domestic setting of the television set is key to its effectiveness.  Focusing on the female Gothic as a domestic genre, Wheatley draws a lineage from early literary works, to the 1940s cycle of Gothic women films and Gothic television of the 1950s onwards. Wheatley argues for the significance of the domestic setting in experiencing stories of domestic anxiety for, ‘the aims of the Gothic drama made for television [are] to suggest a congruence between the domestic spaces on the screen and the domestic reception context’ (Wheatley 2006, 191).
Developments in small screen horror are not restricted to contemporary output. In his work on the cultural history of horror, Mark Jancovich argues that it was on television in the 1990s where key developments in the genre were taking place (Jancovich 2002). Taking Jancovich’s work as a cue, Hills develops his own approach to the significance of horror television of the 1990s. Hills cites Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The X Files as examples of programmes striving to mobilise the genre’s more graphic elements while existing as a ‘high-end’ cultural product: ‘authored’ TV that targeted a niche fan audience (Hills 2005, 126). 
Taking these recent developments into account, the aim of this conference is to engage with such advances. Can we say that it is on the small screen where critical and creative innovations in horror are now being made? How has the expansion of satellite television and online sites impacted the genre? How has the small screen format developed the possibilities of horror? Is the recent alignment with ‘quality TV’ evidence of horror’s new mainstream status? This conference will also reflect on seminal works on television horror and revisit the history of the genre. In addressing these questions the conference will underline the importance of the small screen for horror, within the study of the genre and of the medium, and ask: is the small screen now the home of horror?  
Topics can include but are not limited to:
  • The seasons and horror on the small screen
  • Gothic television
  • Gender and horror
  • Historical figures and events in small screen horror
  • Small screen horror as an ‘event’
  • Adaptation from cinema to small screen ‘re-imaginings’
  • Production contexts
  • Censorship and the small screen
  • Serialisation and horror production
  • National television production of horror
  • The impact of Netflix and Amazon Prime
  • TV history and horror
  • Literary adaptations
  • Children’s TV and horror
  • Genre hybridity
  • Fandom
  • Teen horror
  • Stardom and horror
Please submit proposals of 400 words, along with a short biographical note (250 words) to by Friday 30th June. 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: Katerina Flint-Nicol and Ann-Marie Fleming

The Handmaiden at the Curzon

Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden will be screening at the Curzon in Canterbury from tomorrow, including with a very special introduction by Gothic Feminism’s Dr Tamar Jeffers McDonald! Tamar will be giving an introduction to the film on Saturday 15th April at 2.25pm. This screening will also be a special director’s cut version of the film which features an extra 20 minutes of footage.

The screening and introduction are part of the wider Gothic Feminism project exploring the representation of women on screen in Gothic cinema. Purchase your tickets from the Curzon website here.

The Handmaiden

Conference screening: The Eyes of My Mother at the Curzon

We are very excited to announce that, as an extension to the conference proceedings, we will be hosting a screening of The Eyes of My Mother (2017) at the Curzon cinema in Canterbury. The screening will take place at 7pm on Thursday 25th May and will be introduced by our keynote speaker Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes.

To attend the film screening as part of the conference, please see the details below.

For registered delegates:

If you have already registered for the conference, we are able to offer you the opportunity to purchase a ticket to the screening at the reduced price of £10.50. In order to take advantage of this offer, could you please confirm to me via email ( that you will be attending the film screening by Friday 28th April.

The Curzon will then reserve your ticket for you and you will need to pay them directly for it on the night of the screening. (Please note: we kindly request that you only reserve a ticket if you intend to pay for it and attend the screening).

For non-registered delegates:

If you have not yet registered for the conference and would like to take advantage of the above offer, please complete conference registration ASAP here: 

Once you are registered, please follow the instructions above and again let me know by Friday 28th April that you will be attending the film screening so I can reserve a ticket for you at the Curzon.


We hope you will be able to take advantage of this offer and attend this exciting event!


Conference registration is now open!

Registration for the Gothic Feminism conference Women-in-Peril or Final Girls? Representing Women in Gothic and Horror Cinema is now open and will close on Friday 12th May 2017.

To register, please visit the University of Kent’s Online Store here or via:

Registration Fees

The conference fees are:

£45 (waged)

£25 (unwaged)

The conference fee includes a delegate pack, lunch and refreshments for the three days.

Registration Deadline

Registration with close on  Friday 12th May 2017.

Further Information

The conference programme can be viewed here. Advice on travelling to Kent can be found here. Please direct any queries to:

These details are also available to view on Registration page.

We look forward to welcoming you to Kent!

Blog background

Conference programme: Women-in-Peril or Final Girls? Representing Women in Gothic and Horror Cinema

We are thrilled to announce the programme of this year’s Gothic Feminism conference. A huge thanks for everyone who submitted an abstract and for all those speakers who have agreed to participate.

The programme is also available to view here.

Gothic Feminism presents:

Women-in-Peril or Final Girls? Representing Women in Gothic and Horror Cinema

24th – 26th May 2017

University of Kent


Wednesday 24th May

09:00 – 09:30              Registration

09:30 – 9:45                Welcome and Opening Remarks

9:45 – 11:00                Keynote Speech – Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes (Manchester Metropolitan University):

What Final Girls Did Next: Horror Heroines in the Age of Postfeminism’

11:00 – 11:30              Tea & coffee break

11:30 – 13:00              Papers 1: The Gothic and Horror of Crimson Peak

‘Taking the Final Girl Backwards: Femininity and Abjection in Del Toro’s Crimson Peak’ – Marine Galiné (University of Reims-Champagne-Ardenne)

‘Don’t Call it a Horror Film: The Uses of the Gothic in Crimson Peak’ – Matt Denny (University of Warwick)

‘The Presence of Absence: The Supernatural Gothic of Crimson Peak’ – Frances A. Kamm (University of Kent)

13:00 – 14:00              Lunch

14:00 – 16:00              Papers 2: Split Identities

‘“Sins? What Sins? I am a Scientist I Cannot Sin”: Exploring Thematic Dichotomies in the Filmic Representation of Mary Shelley’ – Linda McCarthy (University of East Anglia) and Richard Sheppard (University of Wales)

‘Silver Spangles in Her Eyes: The Gypsy Outlaw and Female Fantasy in the Gainsborough Gothics’ – Carolyn King (Independent Scholar)

‘“The Human Component in a Turing Test” Monstrous Final Girl-in-Peril: Creating Gothic Horror Through Setting and Character in Ex Machina” – Rebecca Jones (De Montford University)

‘Dead Girls on Film: Murder, Media and Nostalgia’ – Katherine Farrimond (University of Sussex)

16:00 – 16:30              Tea & coffee break

16:30 – 18:00              Papers 3: Age

‘A “Child-Friendly” Horror Aesthetic: Coraline as Female Gothic and Slasher Film’ – Catherine Lester (University of Warwick)

‘Matron or Nanny: Representations of Older Women in Modern British Gothic Horror Films’ – Natasha Parcei (Leeds Beckett University)

‘That Cold Day in the Park: A Countercultural Gothic’ – James Kloda (Freeland Writer and Journalist)

18:00 – 19:00              Cake and wine reception


Thursday 25th May

09:30 – 11:00              Papers 4: Bewitching the Body

‘The Terrifying and the Teenage: How Possession Films Reflect the Societal Fear of Young Women’s Sexuality and Agency’ – Hannah Granberry (University of Colorado Boulder)

‘“Wouldst Thou Like to Live Deliciously?”: Gothic Feminism and the Final Girl in The Witch’ – Victoria Madden (University of Edinburgh)

‘Witches, “Bitches” or Feminist Trailblazers? Tracing Interpretation of the Witch from Piers Haggard’s Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971) to Robert Egger’s The Witch (2016)’ – Chloé Germaine Buckley (Manchester Metropolitan University)

11:00 – 11:30              Tea & coffee break

11:30 – 13:00              Papers 5: Transgressive Women

‘The “Penultimate Girl” as Gothic Woman-in-Peril and Modernist Final Girl in Vincenzo Natali’s Haunter (2013) – Lee Broughton (Independent Scholar)

‘“Unsettling the Men”: The Representation of Transgressive Female Desire in Daughter of Darkness (1948)’ – Paul Mazey (University of Bristol)

‘Bewitched, Bedazzled and Bewildered: The Rituals of Witchcraft in The Neon Demon’ – Jennifer Richards (Manchester Metropolitan University)

13:00 – 14:00              Lunch

14:00 – 16:00              Papers 6: International Gothic and Horror

‘From Gothic Ballet to Horror at the Opera: The Endangered Female in Dario Argento’s Suspiria and Opera’ – Maria Giakaniki (Independent Scholar)

Miss Christina: From Mircea Eliade’s Novella to the Romanian Gothic Big-Budget Production’ – Oana-Maria Mazilu (University of Kent)

‘La Fille Final: The Final Girl in Contemporary French Horror Cinema’ – Maddison McGillvray (York University, Canada)

‘“The Saviour Who Came to Tear My Life Apart”: Queer Subjectivity and Reparative Paranoia in Chan-wook Park’s The Handmaiden’ – Robyn Ollett (Teeside University)

16:00 – 16:30              Tea & coffee break

19:00                           Film Screening (TBC) Ticket not included in registration fee


Friday 26th May

09:30 – 11:00              Papers 7: Post-Gender

Martyrs: The Defacement of Gender in a Monstrous Female Melodrama’ – Katerina Flint-Nicol (University of Kent)

‘Virgins and Vampires: The Ambiguous Women of Jean Rollin’s Gothic Dreams’ – Virginie Guichard (Westminster School)

‘The Final Girl of 21st-Century EcoGothic Cinema’ – Dawn Keetley (Lehigh University)

11:00 – 11:30              Tea & coffee break

11:30 – 13:00              Papers 8: Gothic Horror on TV

‘Demonic Possession, Gothic Suspicion and the Homme Fatale in Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ – Louise Child (Cardiff University)

‘The Women of Penny Dreadful: Gothic, Horror, and the Melodramatic Imagination’ – Alison L. McKee (San José State University)

Jamaica Inn: Simplifying Gender, Simplifying Genre’ – Holly Hirst (Manchester Metropolitan University)

13:00 – 14:00              Lunch

14:00 – 15:30              Papers 9: Gothic and Horror in Unexpected Locations

‘Gone Girl: Gender, Sexuality, and Horror in Gone Home’ – Andra Ivanescu (Brunel University and Anglia Ruskin University)

‘Rambler, Mother, Killer: Alice Lowe’s subversion of the Gothic Heroine in Sightseers and Prevenge’ – Lawrence Jackson (University of Kent)

‘“Sarge! She’s as hard as a rock!” – “You don’t have to tell me that. I’ve been married to her for fifteen years!” or How the Role of the Gothic Woman is Represented in Carry on Screaming!’ – Steven Gerrard (Leeds Beckett University)

15:30 – 16:00              Final remarks and closing of conference

16:00 – 16:30              Tea & coffee