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Nightmare 24: “Dreams or nightmares? Madness or Sanity? I don’t know which is which” - The Representation of Mental Health in the Horror Genre (Nightmare 24)

Hartlepool, United Kingdom
Organization: The Northern School of Art
Event: Nightmare 24
Categories: Film, TV, & Media
Event Date: 2024-04-25 to 2024-04-25 Abstract Due: 2024-02-16

The organisers invite proposals for 15-minute papers to be presented at the first Nightmare conference. Hosted by staff, post-graduate and final year undergraduate students aligned to the Stage & Screen Faculty of The Northern School of Art, this event will take place in person on the 25th April 2024. The theme for this year’s conference will explore the representation of mental health in the horror genre from both cinematic and audience perspectives.

A key cinematic text will be Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971, dir. John D. Hancock). This film will be shown the night before the conference in our theatre with a digital address from internationally renowned film critic Kim Newman.

The CFP will broadly look a three key strands:

·         The contextual impact of Let’s Scare Jessica to Death

·         Body Politics and Horror

·         Recontextualising Mental Health in Horror

This conference seeks to align film-makers and academics to create a working dialogue across the industry. The themes of this year’s conference will shed light on the areas of mental health both in cinematic texts but also how audiences respond to these films. The conference will aim to develop our understanding of artistic, social and psychological attitudes to mental health representation.

This will be an in-person conference but we will consider some online papers as part of specific panels if appropriate. There will also be a strong student presence to the conference both organisationally but also as part of the audience of the events, a forward move to de-mystify both academic and professional artistic discussions. A student conference will take place the day before.

The keynote speaker will be Matt Glasby, an international film journalist and author. His work has been published by the likes of GQ, Radio Times and Total Film, and his books have sold nearly 40,000 copies worldwide. His latest, The Book of Horror: The Anatomy of Fear in Film, is an illustrated guide to the scariest movies ever made 

The evening event will see director Keith Wright present the 4K remaster of his film Harold’s Going Stiff (2011), a touching zombie comedy drama described as ‘Night of the Living Dead meets Last of the Summer Wine’. Keith’s work has won numerous awards and the screening will be followed by a live Q&A conducted by Fortean Times columnist Bob Fischer. The event will end with a drinks reception where the winners of the Nightmare ’24 illustration prize will be announced.

We would particularly welcome contributions on the following:

·         The legacy of Let’s Scare Jessica to Death

·         Madness or Sanity: Cinematic case studies

·         The Politics of the Abject Body

·         Recontextualising cinematic texts using contemporary approaches to mental health research

·         The Slasher as Representative Patient

·         The Impact on Children in Horror

·         Mental Health and Horror – audience perspectives

·         Horror as an Audience’s ‘Cosy Guardian’

·         “Your mind and your body don’t belong to you” – Body Horror and Concepts of the Self


The deadline for proposals is Friday February 16th 2024

When submitting your abstract, please:

Include ‘Nightmare24’ in the title of your email

Submit abstracts in .docx format with the title ‘Nightmare24 – [Surname]’

Please state if you will attend in person or if this will be an online proposal (again, in-person is preferable but online will be considered if appropriate)

Submit abstracts (300 words maximum) and biography (100 words maximum) on the same document

Please include name, the title of the paper and institutional affiliation (independent scholars are welcomed)

Please direct any formal enquiries to the conference organiser David Edwards at david.edwards@northernart.ac.uk

All proposals should be emailed to David Edwards (david.edwards@northernart.ac.uk), Alyson Agar (alyson.agar@northernart.ac.uk), and Olivia Burton (olivia.burton@northernart.ac.uk)



David Edwards