Horror cinema is perhaps more readily available today than ever before. With a mere keystroke, one can say hello to all sorts of terrors—from the apocalyptic creatures of BIRD BOX to the puritanical evil of THE WITCH and from the Turkish hell demons of BASKIN to the Korean zombies of TRAIN TO BUSAN. Notably, this resurgence in horror is not confined to our cinema and iPad screens; it is taking place all around us. We live in neo-fascist times, after all, and if some monsters are produced by Amazon, other monsters are destroying the Amazon. Indeed, real-life ghouls are taking power across the globe, rolling back women’s rights, harassing the LGBT community, amplifying racism and xenophobic bigotry, exacerbating wealth disparities, destroying the lives of countless immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers, and ensuring that a worldwide ecological catastrophe awaits us in the near future—all with the giddy encouragement of their mob-like supporters. Had George Romero lived long enough to make another Living Dead film, he would have surely given his zombies “Make America Great Again” hats.
Strangely, the synchronous timing of these phenomena—the simultaneous appearance of monsters on the movie screen and on the political scene—has not been widely acknowledged. Much of the literature about this ongoing wave of horror avoids politics altogether. Taking inspiration from the scholarship pioneered four decades ago by Robin Wood and his colleagues with the 1979 publication of THE AMERICAN NIGHTMARE: ESSAYS ON THE HORROR FILM, we are seeking essays for a new edited book on contemporary horror cinema. We are interested in essays that approach horror from a radical perspective—that is, essays that explicitly engage with anti-racist, gay liberationist, feminist, socialist, anti-imperialist, and/or decolonialist politics. While the subject of the essay might be killer clowns, flesh-eating zombies, or chainsaw-welding cannibals, the point is to probe questions of oppression and liberation.
We invite essay proposals that closely examine individual films (e.g., CAM, HEREDITARY, PSYCHO RAMAN) or groups of films (e.g., mumblegore, New French Extremity films, the work of Jordan Peele). Authors are not restricted to Hollywood horror, and we welcome discussions on films from around the globe. While the focus is on cinema, we will consider proposals that look at other media forms in relation to film, including television and video games. Moreover, while we are particularly interested in contemporary horror, compelling proposals on earlier films will also be considered. Indeed, we would prefer an essay that looked at a well-worn text like PSYCHO or THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE through a fresh lens than an essay that discusses a brand new horror gem in an overly descriptive or politically naïve way. All essays should situate horror in a greater political context, and we invite contributors to address ongoing events—from the endless “war on terror” and the global rise of rightwing populism to the emergence of new resistance movements like Black Lives Matter.
Please note that a great emphasis will be placed on writing style. While we welcome the use of terms and concepts from film and cultural theory, authors should strive for sharp, readable prose. We want to invite readers from as wide of an audience as possible, not alienate them.
Abstracts between 300-500 words and a short biographical statement are due on July 15. Decisions on acceptance will be communicated to individual authors by August 15. Accepted papers between 5000 and 9000 words (including footnotes) will be due on December 15.
Please submit abstracts here or send them to Greg Burris, email@example.com