The Dread of Difference(s): Horror, Gender, and Cinematic Defiance (Seminar)


Cultural Studies and Media Studies / Women's and Gender Studies

Ruth Z. Yuste-Alonso (University of Connecticut)

Valeria Dani (Cornell University)

Since Carol J. Clover’s seminal work Men, Women, and Chainsaws (1992), feminist readings of horror movies have gained an enthusiastic theoretical momentum. In employing various frameworks and lenses and by complicating our spectatorial position, this rich corpus of literature has perhaps contributed to a resignification of the genre and its tropes. However, amid the emergence of luminous movies that defy and challenge horror’s misogynistic and racialized foundations, several questions arise: Is contemporary horror cinema really abjuring its heteronormative, original structure? Does mainstream horror still convey trite reactionary messages with renewed vigor? If a shift in the architecture of horror is truly in place, what are the most defiant examples of the “new wave,” and how do they accomplish this necessary ideological turn?

This seminar invites submissions that explore the ways in which contemporary filmmakers use horror in order to challenge or, conversely, reproduce hegemonic master narratives. Of particular interest are critical analyses of movies that tritely reproduce an oppressive understanding of the space that gender, class, and race occupy in the social. Proposals with an emphasis on Women’s Cinema(s) and LGBTQ cinema(s) are particularly welcome.

Please submit an abstract of 200 to 250 words describing your proposed seminar paper by September 30, 2020. With your abstract, please include a statement acknowledging the obligations to this specific format session and expressing a commitment to fulfill them.

NB: Participants must submit a complete draft paper no later than February 1, 2021, to be shared with all seminar participants before the conference. Papers should be between 15 and 20 pages, typed (Times New Roman, 12p) and double spaced, and include a “Works Cited” section. All participants are expected to read each other’s papers in preparation for the session and provide at the conference a one-paragraph response to one person as assigned by the session chairs.

Amid the emergence of luminous horror movies that defy and challenge the genre’s misogynistic and racialized foundations, is contemporary horror cinema really abjuring its heteronormative, original structure? Does the genre still convey trite reactionary messages with renewed vigor? This seminar invites submissions that explore the ways in which contemporary filmmakers use horror in order to challenge or, conversely, reproduce hegemonic master narratives.