Call for papers: At Home with Horror?

Our colleagues at the University of Kent, and members of the Gothic Feminism group,  Katerina Flint-Nicol and Ann-Marie Fleming have announced an exciting call for papers on horror on television. The conference will take place at Kent on the 27th – 28th October 2017 – just in time for Halloween! – and the keynote speaker will be Dr Helen Wheatley. Please see the CFP below. All queries should be directed to and you can find out more information here:

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At home with horror? Terror on the small screen
27th-28th October 2017
University of Kent
Keynote speaker: Dr Helen Wheatley (University of Warwick)
The recent horror output on TV and the small screen challenges what Matt Hills found to be the overriding assumption ‘that film is the [horror] genre’s ‘natural’ home’ (Hills 2005, 111). Programmes such as American Horror Story, Penny Dreadful and The Walking Dead are aligned to ‘‘quality TV’, yet use horror imagery and ideas to present a form and style of television that is ‘not ordinary’’ (Johnston 2016, 11). Developments in industrial practices and production technology have resulted in a more spectacular horror in the medium, which Hills argues is the ‘making cinematic’ of television drama (Hills 2010, 23). The generic hybridity of television programmes such as Whitechapel, and Ripper Street allow conventions of the horror genre to be employed within the narrative and aesthetics, creating new possibilities for the animation of horror on the small screen. Series such as Bates Motel and Scream adapt cinematic horror to a serial format, positioning the small screen (including terrestrial, satellite and online formats) as the new home for horror.
The history of television and horror has often displayed a problematic relationship. As a medium that operates within a domestic setting, television has previously been viewed as incompatible with ‘authentic’ horror. Television has been approached as incapable of mobilizing the intense audience reactions associated with the genre and seen as a medium ‘restricted’ in its ability to scare and horrify audiences partly due to censorship constraints (Waller 1987) and scheduling arrangements. Such industrial practices have been seen as tempering the genre’s aesthetic agency resulting in inferior cinematic imitations or, ‘degraded made-for-TV sequels’ (Waller 1987, 146). For Waller, the technology of television compounded the medium’s ability to animate horror and directed its initial move towards a more ‘restrained’ form of the genre such as adapting literary ghost stories and screening RKO productions of the 1940s (Ibid 1987). Inferior quality of colour and resolution provided the opportunity to suggest rather than show. Horror then, has presented a challenge for television: how can the genre be positioned in such a family orientated and domesticated medium? As Hills explains, ‘In such a context, horror is conceptualised as a genre that calls for non- prime-time scheduling… and [thus] automatically excluded from attracting a mass audience despite the popularity of the genre in other media’ (Hills 2005, 118).
Helen Wheatley’s monograph, Gothic Television (2006), challenges the approach of television as a limiting medium for horror, and instead focuses on how the domestic setting of the television set is key to its effectiveness.  Focusing on the female Gothic as a domestic genre, Wheatley draws a lineage from early literary works, to the 1940s cycle of Gothic women films and Gothic television of the 1950s onwards. Wheatley argues for the significance of the domestic setting in experiencing stories of domestic anxiety for, ‘the aims of the Gothic drama made for television [are] to suggest a congruence between the domestic spaces on the screen and the domestic reception context’ (Wheatley 2006, 191).
Developments in small screen horror are not restricted to contemporary output. In his work on the cultural history of horror, Mark Jancovich argues that it was on television in the 1990s where key developments in the genre were taking place (Jancovich 2002). Taking Jancovich’s work as a cue, Hills develops his own approach to the significance of horror television of the 1990s. Hills cites Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The X Files as examples of programmes striving to mobilise the genre’s more graphic elements while existing as a ‘high-end’ cultural product: ‘authored’ TV that targeted a niche fan audience (Hills 2005, 126). 
Taking these recent developments into account, the aim of this conference is to engage with such advances. Can we say that it is on the small screen where critical and creative innovations in horror are now being made? How has the expansion of satellite television and online sites impacted the genre? How has the small screen format developed the possibilities of horror? Is the recent alignment with ‘quality TV’ evidence of horror’s new mainstream status? This conference will also reflect on seminal works on television horror and revisit the history of the genre. In addressing these questions the conference will underline the importance of the small screen for horror, within the study of the genre and of the medium, and ask: is the small screen now the home of horror?  
Topics can include but are not limited to:
  • The seasons and horror on the small screen
  • Gothic television
  • Gender and horror
  • Historical figures and events in small screen horror
  • Small screen horror as an ‘event’
  • Adaptation from cinema to small screen ‘re-imaginings’
  • Production contexts
  • Censorship and the small screen
  • Serialisation and horror production
  • National television production of horror
  • The impact of Netflix and Amazon Prime
  • TV history and horror
  • Literary adaptations
  • Children’s TV and horror
  • Genre hybridity
  • Fandom
  • Teen horror
  • Stardom and horror
Please submit proposals of 400 words, along with a short biographical note (250 words) to by Friday 30th June. We welcome 20 minute conference papers as well as submissions for creative work or practice-as-research including, but not limited to, short films and video essays.
Conference organisers: Katerina Flint-Nicol and Ann-Marie Fleming

The Handmaiden at the Curzon

Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden will be screening at the Curzon in Canterbury from tomorrow, including with a very special introduction by Gothic Feminism’s Dr Tamar Jeffers McDonald! Tamar will be giving an introduction to the film on Saturday 15th April at 2.25pm. This screening will also be a special director’s cut version of the film which features an extra 20 minutes of footage.

The screening and introduction are part of the wider Gothic Feminism project exploring the representation of women on screen in Gothic cinema. Purchase your tickets from the Curzon website here.

The Handmaiden

Conference screening: The Eyes of My Mother at the Curzon

We are very excited to announce that, as an extension to the conference proceedings, we will be hosting a screening of The Eyes of My Mother (2017) at the Curzon cinema in Canterbury. The screening will take place at 7pm on Thursday 25th May and will be introduced by our keynote speaker Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes.

To attend the film screening as part of the conference, please see the details below.

For registered delegates:

If you have already registered for the conference, we are able to offer you the opportunity to purchase a ticket to the screening at the reduced price of £10.50. In order to take advantage of this offer, could you please confirm to me via email ( that you will be attending the film screening by Friday 28th April.

The Curzon will then reserve your ticket for you and you will need to pay them directly for it on the night of the screening. (Please note: we kindly request that you only reserve a ticket if you intend to pay for it and attend the screening).

For non-registered delegates:

If you have not yet registered for the conference and would like to take advantage of the above offer, please complete conference registration ASAP here: 

Once you are registered, please follow the instructions above and again let me know by Friday 28th April that you will be attending the film screening so I can reserve a ticket for you at the Curzon.


We hope you will be able to take advantage of this offer and attend this exciting event!