CFP Reminder: Gothic Style(s), Gothic Substance; Gothic Manchester Festival Conference, MMU, 28 October 2017

Just a reminder that the deadline for the Gothic Style(s), Gothic Substance; symposium at Gothic Manchester Festival Conference is soon. Here are the details again:

Gothic Manchester Festival Conference
Saturday 28 October 2017
Call for Papers
Gothic Style(s), Gothic Substance

After the great success of last year’s Gothic North conference, our attention turns this year to the topic of Gothic Style(s).
At the start of the twenty first century, the Gothic is ubiquitous. Fiction and film, television and graphic novels have not only made the Gothic’s plots and protagonists their own, but have brought Gothic style(s) even more firmly into the mainstream. Victorian Gothic architecture looms large over modern cities such as Manchester, contemporary Goth fashion and music tirelessly reference the mode, and our streets and bars, clubs and homes have generated new Gothic styles of their own.
But is there substance to the Gothic’s many styles? Does the Gothic continue to reveal the great unspoken truths of our world? Did it ever? Is the Gothic anything more than a commercial product that may be sold, as a recognisable style, to a new generation of consumers? Was it ever thus? What cultural functions do Gothic styles serve? And how have these evolved from the Enlightenment to the neoliberal present?
This one-day conference invites abstracts for papers of 20 minutes on any aspect of Gothic style(s) and / or substance. As such, topics may include, but are most certainly not limited to:
• Literary, Filmic and Popular-Cultural Stylistics – ‘authentic’ Gothic or merely stylistic flourish?
• The Gothic styles of art and architecture
• Gothic fashion – from subculture to haute couture
• The histories of Gothic styles
• Goth-style music, clubs and clubbers
• The singularity (or otherwise) of Gothic style
• The popular perception of Goth(ic) style – from Halloween dress-up to hate crime.

Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words to Dr Linnie Blake, Head of the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies, by 1 August 2017.

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RIP George Romero

The zombie as it has appeared in popular culture–the abject, shambling, carnivorous undead rather than the animated slaves of Caribbean folklore–was practically invented by the director George Romero, who has sadly died. Romero’s pioneering film Night of the Living Dead (1968) and subsequent films inaugurated a whole new subgenre of horror, one that enabled the undead monster to stand in for and explore many aspects of modern society. In some of these films he even anticipates the sympathetic monster of paranormal romance by suggesting the return of autonomy to the creatures and by focusing on the plight of their dehumanisation. Below are links to three articles on Romero that also give a critical account of his genius. All are excellent starting points for research on the Romero zombie.

First, Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes of Manchester Metropolitan University draws attention to that human aspect in ‘How George A. Romero made humans of violent brain-devouring zombies‘.

John DeFore gives a more general account of Romero’s work in ‘Critic’s Notebook: In George Romero’s Zombie Films, a Cathartic Form of Escapism‘.

The last article is from the LRB (it’s incomplete unless you subscribe, unfortunately); Thomas Jones, in ‘Les zombies, c’est vous‘ (a review of Colson Whitehead’s Zone One), places the Romero zombie in a contemporary context, revealing its enormous influence.

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Catherine Spooner on Goth Culture

The brilliant Dr Catherine Spooner of Lancaster University (who has been an inspirational contributor to the OGOM Project from its inception) gives an erudite and fascinating interview on Goth culture here:

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RIP Nelsan Ellis

Very sad news that Nelsan Ellis, who played Lafayette magnificently in the HBO vampire series True Blood, has died.

This is one of his most memorable scenes:

Xavier Aldana Reyes wrote a superb article on this in our OGOM special issue of Gothic Studies.

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OGOM website: new features

I’ve made a few changes to the website. We think that the site can be an immensely useful research tool for Gothic studies, the fantastic, and the magical in fiction and folklore. To help students, scholars, and those with a general interest in these fields, I’ve added a ‘How to use this site’ page. There’s a link to it on the Welcome page and you can also access it via a new menu option underneath the ‘About’ menu tab. We’d welcome any feedback on this on how we could make it even easier to find the material you’re looking for.

There is also a new forthcoming event, ‘Animal-Human Boundaries: Banishing the Big, Bad Wolf‘, details of which can be found on the Events page and from its own menu tab. This is part of the nationwide Being Human Festival, and Sam has previous blogged about it here. We will give fuller details nearer the time.

And we have added pages about the two forthcoming OGOM Publications: the book of edited essays, In the Company of Wolves: Werewolves, Wolves, and Wild Children – Narratives of Sociality and Animality, and the special Wolves and Wilderness issue of Gothic Studies. These, too, will be filled out with more detail over the next few weeks.

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Reader I Married Him

Congratulations are in order for OGOM’s Kaja who has married Duncan in a beautiful ceremony in London. Guests gathered at Battersea Park for the happy couple to marry on the bandstand in the warm summer sunshine surrounded by family and friends. After a delightful champagne reception at the Pump House there were games before a customised London bus (‘the wedding express’ below), collected guests to take them to the reception in Brixton.

Kaja broke with tradition in choosing to give a speech herself and to share the first dance not with Duncan but with her Dad Julian. There were quotations from Romeo and Juliet and Duncan indulged Kaja’s gothic sensibilities with the table plans and gothic table settings which featured vampire books and stakes!

The gothic inspired table themes included ‘Seelie Court’, ‘Cinderella’, ‘Gothic Romance’ and ‘Lycanthropes’ (see plan below).

Ooh and they walked down the metaphorical isle to a live version of ‘Love Song for a Vampire’ played on an acoustic guitar (my favourite bit). Kaja did not disappoint with a jaw dropping black lace, Spanish-inspired gothic gown which was a delight to behold (and of course Duncan looked pretty dapper and handsome too).

Have a wonderful life together both of you and thank you for a very special day on behalf of all at OGOM!!

‘The greatest gift…you’ll ever learn…is just to love and be loved in return’   

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Sophie Lancaster: Representation and Appropriation

I am just posting this link to the drama about the murder of goth girl Sophie Lancaster ten years on for my Generation Dead YA Fiction and the Gothic students next year.  I haven’t watched ‘Murdered for Being Different Yet’ but I hope to discuss this and other representations of Sophie in a paper entitled ‘Black Roses: Sophie Lancaster, Appropriation and Gothic Sensibility  – From Broken Britain to Brexit’  for the Manchester Gothic Festival in October

Also of interest is this interview with Sophie’s boyfriend, Robert Maltby, who was left for dead. Robert talks for the first time about his recovery and the way the crime was portrayed  in the media in ‘The Goth Thing was an Oversimplification’  





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OGOM at the Being Human Festival 2017

We are proud to announce that OGOM has been successful in its bid to participate in the Being Human Festival 2017. Our event is detailed below:

Animal-Human Boundaries: Banishing the Big, Bad Wolf

Saturday 18th November, University of Hertfordshire

6.30. p.m. – 9.00 p.m. Research-led Talks/ Short Screening/ Public Debate

Hunted to extinction in Britain, wolves haunt the human imagination. This event engages audiences with the persecution, loss and reintroduction of the wolf. A short film introduced by the UK Wolf Trust and a series of research-led talks will interrogate contrasting representations of the wolf, before the audience debate the possibility of redeeming and re-wilding this much maligned ‘beast’.

The illustrated talks are developed from innovative chapters in the OGOM Centre’s forthcoming Company of Wolves book and  challenge humankind’s perception of the Big, Bad Wolf. Topics include lupophobia or humankind’s hatred of the wolf, the myth of children raised by wolves, the legacy of Beauty and the Beast, the monstrous werewolf, the  last wolf, and the extinction and re-wilding of the wolf in the UK.

This activity fits the festival theme of ‘Lost and Found’. As the wolf was eradicated in  Britain it is currently a ‘lost’ species. The idea of the metaphorical ‘wolf hunt’ is essentially a game involving lost and found.  The event also interrogates ‘Being Human’ through animal/human relations, i.e. the negative wolf which we hope to ‘lose’ and the redeemed wolf which we hope to ‘find’.  This event builds on the success of the OGOM research Centre and  our Company of Wolves project, which saw the largest conference in the UK on wolves, werewolves and feral children. We received unprecedented attention in the local, international and global media (10K shares for coverage in The Independent for example, live coverage on the BBC, stories in Russia Today and the South China Post, etc. and the acknowledgement of a first for a UK Academy in the THES).

This year’s festival is taking place nationally 17 – 25 November 2017. Being Human is led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.

Put this in your diary. More details soon!

She looked with angry woe at the straining and snarling horde below (from ‘The Wooing of Becfola’)

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Wonder Woman and Her Influence

A fascinating essay by Michele Kennerly and Carly S. Woods, ‘Wonder Woman and Her Influence‘, which takes an unusual approach through Classical Studies and rhetoric, considering the reception of the iconic feminist superheroine and exploring the stress on persuasion that surrounds the figure.

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Archive of 6,000 Historical Children’s Books

The University of Florida have digitised the 6,000 children’s books of their Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature and made them available on line for free. This is a marvellous resource and I have added it to the Related Links list on the right-hand side of the blog. Josh Jones gives an excellent introduction to the collection here, tracing the history of children’s literature via the research of M.O. Grenby and pointing to how these books led to the proliferating genres of present-day children’s and YA fiction. 

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