CFPs: Utopia & Dystopia, Gothic mashup, Screening loss, SyFy films, Gothic games, performing fairy

1. First, a conference CFP: Utopia & Dystopia: Conference on the Fantastic in Media Entertainment, University of Southern Denmark, 28-29 May 2020. Deadline: 10 December 2019.

This conference invites new research in the fantastic. Why is the fantastic more popular than ever? What theories – or bundle of theories – capture the specific nature of the fantastic? What purposes do fantastic genres serve in terms of evolution, adaptation, sensory pleasures, and cognitive as well as social uses? How do we create fantastic stories across media platforms and in different aesthetic forms? How is worldbuilding used to create transmedia stories of the fantastic? How do new technologies and media aesthetics affect the fantastic in terms of production, distribution, and fan uses?

2. Call for Submissions: Gothic Mash-Ups (Edited Collection). Deadline: 30 August 2019.

Intended for publication with Lexington Books, Gothic Mash-Ups will theorize and trace the way that producers of gothic fiction – from the 18th century to today – appropriate, combine, and reimagine elements from earlier texts and genres. Particularly welcome are essays about individual texts (or groups of texts) that bring together characters and storylines from two or more prior gothic narratives or cross gothic storylines with other kinds of stories. From Walpole’s early generic hodgepodge and Universal Pictures’ monster film crossovers to such contemporary “Frankenfictions” (De Bruin-Molé) as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Penny Dreadful, this collection will examine the fundamental hybridity of the gothic as a genre.

3. Call for Chapters – Screening Loss: An Exploration of Grief in Contemporary Horror Cinema. Deadline: 30 September 2019.

This collection addresses horror films’ treatment of loss, specifically grief and how grief shapes, magnifies, and escalates the horrific. Selected films should be from the last twenty years. This contemporary approach will lend the collection a sense of urgency. Moreover, in addition to conventional horror films, we highly support explorations of less frequently examined films that contain a high degree of complexity in content and aesthetics. A24 films are the perfect example of this. Additionally, examinations of genre-defying films such as Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer and David Lowery’s A Ghost Story are especially encouraged.

4. Essays on SyFy Channel Original Films. Deadline: 31 October 2019.

This collection’s goal is to devote critical attention to an understudied avenue of popular culture: Sci-Fi/SyFy Channel’s original films. Since 2002, Sci-Fi/SyFy Channel’s production company, Sci-Fi Pictures, has created over 200 original films, spawning such franchises as the Sharknado and Lavalantua series alongside cult/fan favorites like Ghost SharkIce Spiders, and Mongolian Death WormSharknado’s release in 2013 saw unprecedented popularity for one of SyFy’s creature feature films, correlating to a meteoric rise in popularity of not just the recently-minted Sharknado franchise, but SyFy’s feature films as a whole.

5. Call for articles: Revenant journal, special issue ‘Performing Fairies’. Deadline: 31 October 2019.

Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural ( is now accepting abstracts for critical articles, creative writing pieces, and book, film, music, or event reviews for a themed issue on ‘Performing Fairy’, examining contemporary and historical intersections of phenomenological fairy practice.

Contributing to this discussion, we invite abstracts for work that examine the role of fairy and its evolution as a cultural marker and interrogator of societal issues across film, TV, literature, video games, art, music or public performance.

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Werewolves and Wildness: The Open Graves, Open Minds special issue of Gothic Studies

Reblogged from EUP Blog, 8 July 2019


The first issue of Gothic Studies published by EUP is also the first ever issue devoted to werewolves. In the twenty-first century, the era of late capitalism, new werewolf myths have emerged from our cultural memory around humans and wolves. Gothic texts deal with a variety of themes just as pertinent to contemporary culture as they were to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when Gothic novels first achieved popularity. The werewolf is easily situated within themes of monstrosity, liminality and the divided self, showing it to be a decidedly Gothic creature.

This special issue of Gothic Studiesand its companion edited collection of essays, In the Company of Wolves: Werewolves, Wolves, and Wild Children (MUP, 2020) are intended in part to address a lack of critical writing on the werewolf. Both these publications emerged from the groundbreaking conference organised by the Open Graves, Open Minds Project at the University of Hertfordshire, 3-5 September 2015: ‘The Company of Wolves’: Sociality, Animality, and Subjectivity in Literary and Cultural Narratives – Werewolves, Shapeshifters, and Feral Humans’(organised by Sam George, Bill Hughes, and Kaja Franck; the conference was inspired in part by Kaja’s pioneering research on werewolf fiction in her PhD thesis).

The Company of Wolves conference

During the conference, we visited the UK Wolf Conservation Trust sanctuary in Reading and observed the wolves and made a pilgrimage to the eighteenth-century grave of Peter the Wild Boy (thought to have been raised by wolves or bears) at St Mary’s Church, Northchurch in Hertfordshire.

The grave of Peter the Wild Boy

The conference and its outputs embraced not only the werewolf but the actual wolf, with all its ambiguous characteristics of pack sociality and alleged savagery, and also narratives of wild children (who are often claimed to have been raised by wolves and thus partake of the same liminal quality as the werewolf, hovering between humanity and animality, society and nature). The conference inspired much debate about the place of the werewolf within academia and received many accolades and acknowledgements for providing a first for the UK academy.

Gothic studies can be accused (with some validity) to have become too all-encompassing; we should therefore justify our venturing into narratives of the wild child alongside the werewolf in a journal devoted to the Gothic. There is the close relationship between the werewolf and feral children; the suggested animality they share was explored at the conference. In addition, narratives of the wild child do often evoke horror as though they too are monsters (as both Nevárez and Brodski show in their articles). There is the intertextuality between the narratives of wolves, werewolves, and wild children. And many of the most significant original narratives of wild children, closely bound up with speculations on the origins of language and society, stem from the eighteenth century, when Gothic itself as a genre was born; wildness and the boundaries of language are truly Gothic themes.

One of the ways Gothic as a genre has mutated in recent years has been through its encounter with romantic fiction to create a new form, paranormal romance, which features the sympathetic monster – vampires, notably, but also subsequently other creatures, including werewolves. The twenty-first-century werewolf is thus more humanised, and this assimilation of otherness, correlated with shifts in social attitudes towards minority groups, colours contemporary werewolf narratives. This includes post-9/11 attitudes to terrorism, as examined by Marsden in his article. Alongside this has been a certain feminisation of the werewolf, with women in urban fantasy and paranormal romance often appearing as the werewolf protagonists. Alongside this, werewolf fictions may explore masculinity, as Chaplin and Evans show in their articles. The particular essence of the werewolf as animality irrupting into humanity makes them especially suited to explore concerns about nature and wildness, aligning them with the recent development of eco-Gothic as a distinct perspective within Gothic studies; Runstedler and George explore this perspective. Our contributors each respond to these new emphases on wildness and the werewolf in various and thought-provoking ways. Thus, as this new werewolf scholarship will show, to cite Kathryn Hughes, ‘in our dog-eat-dog world, it’s time for werewolves’.

Werewolf biscuits at the conference

Read Werewolves and Wildness: Volume 21, Issue 1 here!

About the authors

Sam George is Senior Lecturer in Literature at the University of Hertfordshire, UK and the Convenor of the Open Graves, Open Minds project. Her interviews have appeared in newspapers from the Guardian to the Independent and the Wall Street Journal. Her research straddles the boundaries between the life sciences, animal studies and the gothic.

Sam George

Bill Hughes is co-organiser of the Open Graves, Open Minds: Project at the University of Hertfordshire. Bill researches contemporary paranormal romance. Elsewhere his research and publications explore the interrelation of the dialogue genre and English novels of the long eighteenth century. Bill also researches contemporary paranormal romance.

Bill Hughes
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Book Review: Elizabeth von Arnim, Vera

As you may know from previous posts, I have been tracing the genetic mutations from which the genre of paranormal romance arose by looking at an earlier manifestation, Gothic romance (or romantic suspense). This genre flourished from about the 1940s to the 1980s and has as its architexts the Brontës’ Jane Eyre (1847) and Wuthering Heights (1847) and, nearer in time Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (1938).

This line of research led me to Elizabeth von Arnim’s Vera (1921) which has been claimed as an important influence on du Maurier’s classic romance of a young and vulnerable woman who loves and marries a man whose life is haunted (figuratively) by the powerful presence of his dead first wife, Rebecca.

Vera is a darkly comic transformation of the Gothic romance paradigm. In novels of that genre (and in paranormal romance too), the plot moves towards an overcoming of the otherness of the demonic lover with a promise of mutuality, often involving the redemption or reformation of the man. (This sometimes involves a very dubious sexual politics where, as in Victoria Holt’s aptly named The Demon Lover (1982), the ‘hero’ has abducted and raped the heroine but is transformed by her love.)

In von Arnim’s novel, Lucy Entwhistle, a young woman whose father has just died, is comforted by an older and very self-assured man who is himself bereaved: his wife, Vera has, it is rumoured, committed suicide. The man, Everard Wemmys, courts her and soon marries her. He is genuinely demonic – bullying, rigidly puritanical, monstrously selfish. His dominance (fearful but exciting in Gothic romance) is viciously oppressive, stifling any possibility of mutuality (his conversational style with others reveals this; his silencing of Lucy herself; even the obsessive locking away of the books in the library he doesn’t read). Lucy seems to have had a vaguely academic or bohemian life when her father was alive and his friends visited and is used to free and lively dialogue, but now she is cut off from social life with an egotistically monologic husband. And his monstrosity is singularly without glamour.

The gothicised romance plot typically shows the reformation of the rake (after Samuel Richardson’s Pamela (1740)) or taming of the monster, culminating in marriage. Vera arrives at marriage very quickly and Wemmys’s petty cruelties begin even on their honeymoon (though the reader becomes aware of his despotism even earlier). Von Arnim strips away romantic illusion or utopian possibilities, depicting the horrific afterlife of courtship in a brutally constricting marriage. It is significant that Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights is referred to in the novel. This is a key intertext in Gothic and paranormal romance and is a similarly uncomfortable depiction of the interaction of love and violence. (Arnim’s friend John Middleton Murray likened the book to Wuthering Heights as written by Jane Austen, which captures its caustic wit.) The novel lays bare the allure of Gothic/paranormal romance. It is horribly, excruciatingly funny.

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Conference Report: Queer Fears Symposium (University of Hertfordshire), Odyssey Cinema, St Albans, 28 June 2019

Conference report by Daisy Butcher, PhD candidate, University of Hertfordshire

On Friday the 28th of June I attended the Queer Fears Symposium run by my wonderful secondary PhD supervisor Dr Darren Elliott-Smith at the Odyssey Cinema in St Albans. The day consisted of academic papers on the topic of Queerness in Horror film and TV and also a film screening of Nightmare on Elm Street 2:Freddy’s Revenge in the evening. This article is a short review of the symposium’s presentations and the event as a whole.

The first panel, entitled ‘In and Out of the Closet’, included the University of Hertfordshire academics Chris Lloyd, Tim Stafford, and Ben Wheeler. The panel discussed American Horror Story, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,and The Lost Boys,which were favourites of mine as both a fan and researcher. Points of particular interest for myself included Chris Lloyd’s analysis across the seasons of American Horror Story, Tim Stafford’s argument surrounding the queerness of the Spellman family structure, and Ben Wheeler highlighting the inherent homoeroticism of The Lost Boys.

The second panel, on Queer Performative Horror, featured Valeria Lindvall, who explored the web series Dragula; Daniel Shepherd, who delivered his paper on the appropriation of the Babadook as a Queer icon; and Lexi Turner analysing Queer dance in the films Suspiria and Climax. Although I had not actually seen these films and webseries, the presentations were very engaging and effective in emphasising the unique queer elements.

After this panel we were treated to lunch. The catering at this conference was of excellent quality with plenty of vegetarian options for myself. We also had a pint-sized Freddie Kreuger serving us biscuits throughout the day, which was a fun touch!

The first afternoon panel was on ‘Consuming Queerness and other Gross Tales . . .’, where Robyn Ollett and Eddie Falvey both examined Julia Ducournau’s 2016 film RAW which explores university hazing culture and cannibalism. Robyn Ollett explored themes such as the self-destructive body horror of the film while Eddie Falvey opted for more of a survey approach to the female body in horror film, comparing Ducournau’s film to Teeth, which shows a vagina dentate body as a site of resistance, as well as Thanatomorphose and Contracted, which seemed more regressive in their representation of the female body as diseased after sex/rape. Lastly, the University of Hertfordshire academic Laura Mee rounded off the panel by discussing the films of Lucky McKee, which feature monstrous female forms such as hybridised bug-women who devour their mean landladies.

The final panel of the conference, entitled ‘Frightfully Problematic Queerness’, featured Sam Tabet and the University of Hertfordshire PhD candidate Siobhan O’Reilly. Unfortunately, Christopher Clark was unable to make it but on a positive note it meant we had more time for questions and discussion at the end of both papers. Siobhan O’Reilly’s paper was extremely enlightening on the reality of transphobia in horror film history. In fact, she had completed a comprehensive list of films which feature trans characters negatively, often as the killer of the stories. One film in particular that she used as a case study was Sleepaway Camp, where the film’s final twist is the revelation that Angela was in fact the murderer. Siobhan O’Reilly showed a clip of the final scenes which highlighted how the characters seem more shocked by her having a penis than the fact she is a serial killer. Sam Tabet analysed the more recent film What Keeps you Alive from 2018, which featured a lesbian couple where one of them was a psychotic killer. Sam went into detail about the film’s conception, as the director originally had the idea for a heterosexual couple and then opted to swap out the murderous husband for a lesbian wife instead. She highlighted the problematic nature of the film and its reinforcement of the link between lesbian desire and violence.

To end the symposium, Dr Darren Elliott-Smith delivered the keynote on the gay zombie: ‘”Unbury Your Gays”: Queer Zombies, Mental Illness and Assimilation Anxieties in Contemporary Film and TV’. In his presentation, he looked into contemporary zombie film and TV shows such as In the Flesh and Otto.

The attention to detail at the conference was first class, as the post-keynote wine reception and refreshments included rainbow drops served by Freddie and a magnificent rainbow cake with rainbow napkins. Moreover, the Odyssey as a venue was fantastic as all film clips and presentations took place on their professional cinema screen. Not to mention that the staff were very helpful and enthusiastic, even going as far as to put up themed horror film posters around the venue and hiding Freddie Kreuger gloves on their current film posters such as Spiderman: Far from Home and Rocketman. I did not attend the film screening in the evening but overall this one-day symposium was one of the best academic events I have ever attended. While Queer Theory had not been my specific research approach, it was a very thought-provoking conference and it was inspiring to see how academics approached Queerness as a topic more broadly than I first anticipated. The commitment and passion behind it was obvious as Dr Darren Elliott-Smith did a wonderful job in organising the event. It was certainly a worthy send-off and legacy for him to leave the University of Hertfordshire with as he moves on to pastures new at the University of Stirling. I would like to wish him the best of luck and am grateful to him for remaining my secondary PhD supervisor and staying attached to my project.

Further reading:

Darren Elliott-Smith, Queer Horror Film and Television: Sexuality and Masculinity at the Margins (London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2016)

Author biography:

Daisy Butcher is a Gothic and horror PhD student at the University of Hertfordshire attached to the Open Graves Open Minds project. Her thesis focuses on the monstrous feminine, psychoanalysis, and body horror from the nineteenth-century Gothic short story to modern film and TV reincarnations. Her PhD project particularly analyses the female vampire, mummy, and the killer-plant monster. She is currently editing a publication with the British Library, Evil Roots: Killer Tales of the Botanical Gothic, which will be released in Autumn 2019.

Twitter: @Daisy2205

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CFPs: Myth and art, Tales of Terror, Supernatural Studies

Some more CFPs and Calls for Articles:

1. Myth and Art Revisited conference, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece, 18-19 December 2019. Deadline: 31 July 2019.

This international two-day conference hosted by the Department of English Language and Literature, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, seeks to explore from a comparativist and interdisciplinary perspective the relationship between classical myth and art as a “revisiting,” or rereading, by other means, of the mythical narratives provided to us by traditional scholarship from a later framework.

2. Call for articles: Gothic Studies Special Issue – Tales of Terror: Gothic and the Short Form. Deadline for proposals 5 August 2019.

The aim of this special issue of Gothic Studies (23/3, to be published Nov 2021) is to bring together research that does not simply consider Gothic short fiction and its artistic and cultural brethren as incidental, but integral to the design and effect and/or cultural significance of the piece because the short form in the Gothic tradition has, as yet, received little in the way of sustained scholarly attention. Form and structure, publication histories, and multi-media adaptation, in various guises, will comprise a key focus of the issue.

3. Call for articles: Supernatural Studies, Summer 2019 issue.

Supernatural Studies is a peer-reviewed journal that promotes rigorous yet accessible scholarship in the growing field of representations of the supernatural, the speculative, the uncanny, and the weird. The breadth of “the supernatural” as a category creates the potential for interplay among otherwise disparate individual studies that will ideally produce not only new work but also increased dialogue and new directions of scholarly inquiry. To that end, the editorial board welcomes submissions employing any theoretical perspective or methodological approach and engaging with any period and representations including but not limited to those in literature, film, television, video games, and other cultural texts and artifacts.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935) and OGOM 2020

Next year will be the tenth anniversary of the OGOM Project. Sam and I are working on something very special and magical for our celebrations and 2020 conference. All will be revealed soon but some of our background research involved watching Max Reinhardt’s 1935 film production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s a remarkably good film, though some performances may be a little weak. But it’s visually superb and evokes a truly other world of slightly Gothic Faery through light and shade and effects that still seem spectacular.

Serendipitously, the next day I found this steamy Regency bodice ripper (featuring Robin ‘Puck’ Goodfellow Blackthorn and an abduction from a masked ball) in a charity shop:

A related theme can be found in Sam’s Twitter Moment, where she has been researching the interrelationship of fairies and the Gothic in Victorian painting and literature: Victorian Fairies and the Gothic.

John Fitzgerald, Fairies Looking Through a Gothic Arch (1864)
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CFPs: Gothic times, Gothic nature, Gothic realities

Some exciting conferences coming up!

1. Gothic Manchester Festival Conference 2019 ‘Gothic Times’, Manchester Metropolitan University, 26 October 2019. Deadline: 30 July 2019.

In the opening decades of the twenty-first century, with Trump in the White House and Brexit on the horizon, Angela Carter’s famous assertion of 1974 that ‘we live in Gothic times’ has never been more apt.
This year’s Gothic Manchester Festival Symposium picks up on these concerns, inviting twenty-minute papers on the theme of ‘Gothic Times’ that are accessible to a non-specialist audience. These may focus on any aspect of Gothic culture – literature, film, television, music, graphic novels, games, Goth subcultures, etc.

2. The Gothic Nature journal is being launched, with CFPs for a symposium ‘Gothic Nature II: New Directions in Ecohorror and the EcoGothic’, University of Roehampton, 14 September 2019. Deadline: 20 July 2019.

Gothic Nature is a new interdisciplinary and peer-reviewed academic journal seeking to explore the latest evolutions of thought in the areas of ecohorror and the ecoGothic. It welcomes articles, reviews, interviews, and original creative pieces from researchers and artists interrogating the darker sides of our relationship to the nonhuman.

3. Gothic Realities: A Postgraduate and Early-Career Researcher Symposium, University of Stirling, 24-25 October 2019. Deadline: 30 August 2019.

Since its inception, Gothic has had a complex and fascinating relation to the real. Its origins in the mid and late-eighteenth century are imbued with the socio-cultural emergence of modernity, yet the Gothic Romances of this period, such as Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto and those of Ann Radcliffe, playfully offset any historical veracity through fakery, phantasy and terror. The genre’s resurgence as a mode in the nineteenth century, and as an ever-increasingly plastic substance or style in the twentieth and twenty-first, has resulted in an explosion of Gothic literature and media. From its narratives and counter-narratives of property ownership, Empire, Queerness, technology, and life itself, Gothic has produced a multitude of metafictional realities –political and ontological.

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Polidori Vampyre Symposium report

Sorry for the delay, but we’ve finally produced the report on our fabulous symposium for the bicentenary of John Polidori’s The Vampyre, which was held 6-7 April 2019 at Keats House, Hampstead. You can read the report by following this link.

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Werewolves and Wildness

Woo hoo we’re excited to announce that OGOM’s Dr Sam George and Dr Bill Hughes have edited the first ever issue of Gothic Studies on werewolves and it is out now from Edinburgh University Press: ‘Werewolves and Wildness’ 21.1 (May 2019) If you are a member of the IGA, you should be able to access this online. We hope you enjoy it. We would like to thank all our wonderful contributors. The contents are as follows:

Introduction: Werewolves and Wildness, Sam George and Bill Hughes, 21(1), pp. 1–9

‘Daddy, I’m falling for a monster’: Women, Sex, and Sacrifice in Contemporary Paranormal Romance, Sue Chaplin, 21(1), pp. 10-27

Full Moon Masculinities: Masculine Werewolves, Emotional Repression, and Violence in Young Adult Paranormal Romance Fiction, Tania Evans, 21(1), pp. 28–39

‘One look and you recognize evil’: Lycan Terrorism, Monstrous Otherness, and the Banality of Evil in Benjamin Percy’s Red Moon, Simon Marsden, 21(1), pp. 40–53

The Benevolent Medieval Werewolf in William of Palerne, Curtis Runstedler, 21(1), pp. 54–67

Wolves in the Wolds: Late Capitalism, the English Eerie, and the Weird Case of ‘Old Stinker’ the Hull Werewolf, Sam George, 21(1), pp. 68–84

Playgrounds in the Zombie Apocalypse: The Feral Child, Lisa Nevárez, 21(1), pp. 85–99

The Cinematic Representation of the Wild Child: Considering L’enfant sauvage (1970), Michael Brodski21(1), pp. 100–113
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Easter Greetings from OGOM

Happy holidays to all from OGOM. Here’s a cover from a turn-of the-19th-century satirical magazine Puck announcing a very mischievous Easter:

However you are spending the bank holiday, I hope you catch some mummers or pace egg plays as they are always a delight. We have already had reports from Todmorden and St Albans. You can read about the play’s themes and significance in our earlier post here.

If you are short of ideas for pace eggs, we do have some that would appeal to gothic sensibilities….wow just wow!!

Rue Apothecary

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