Contemporary Horrors: Destabilizing a Cinematic Genre
The University of Chicago, April 25-26, 2014
Abstracts of a maximum of 200-250 words are due no later than February 1, 2014 by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The turn of the millennium has witnessed a uniquely dazzling upsurge in cinematic production within the horror genre. How do we account for the prolific production and prodigious diffusion of horror film since the turn of this last century? From thematic topoi to cinematographic style, horror cinema of the past 10-15 years has witnessed numerous trends emerge, cross-pollinate internationally, and re-enter the genre in cycles of repetition and transformation accelerated by digital production and distribution technologies. And yet, the sheer proliferation and remarkable diversity of vital horror filmmaking makes defining the genre perhaps more challenging than ever before.
In the 21st century, as horror cinema has become more clearly than ever a global genre, those films that find their way to U.S. movie theaters represent only a small fraction of the total quantity made. Just as the vast majority of horror filmmaking now occurs independently of major studio support, practices of distribution and viewing have expanded and evolved with the internet making this impressive range of films available to fans around the world. One is left to question how structures of global information and capital (and strategies for evasion of such structures), affect the form and function of filmic negotiations of horror. In other words: What delineates horror as a genre in the 21st century? How have shock, fear, and the fantastic been defined in recent horror productions? If horror has become somehow an almost “universal” idiom of global experience, what unifies our senses of trauma? How are memory and melancholy supplanted by obscenity and anxiety?
To engage these and other questions, we welcome speakers who take diverse paths toward contemplation of the contemporary horror film and the questions it raises as a transnational cinematic genre. A panel of independent horror filmmakers will convene on Thursday, April 24, 2014 to inaugurate the conference. Adam Lowenstein, Professor of Film Studies at the University of Pittsburgh and author of Shocking Representation: Historical Trauma, National Cinema, and the Modern Horror Film, will provide the keynote.
Topics that may be considered include but are not limited to:
- Gore and images of violence; body horror; torture porn/spectacle horror
- Auteurs and auteurist approaches to genre; alternative collaborationist approaches
- The significance of horror within contexts of national cinemas and the significance of national contexts for understanding international horror
- Transnationalism and border-crossings (international co-productions, émigré filmmakers, transnational influences)
- Remakes and genre formulae; translating and transducing horror across cultures and time
- New forms/patterns of distribution and spectatorship; Methods of advertising and publicity
- Queerness and gender issues in horror; the legacy of Carol Clover, Linda Williams, Robin Wood in
- The relationship of art-house cinema to genre (i.e. Haneke, Del Toro, Von Trier, Denis)
- Monsters and monstrosity
- The “found footage” film (Paranormal Activity, [REC], Cloverfield, etc.); "home movies" and the unheimlich
- Media in horror and “haunted media”; outdated medial artefacts between nostalgia and fear; the afterlife of formats
- Models for independent production
- The eroticization of the monstrous and the abject
- Technologies of horror and horrific technics: instruments of para-transmission
- Horrified psyches: anxiety, melancholy, depression, and affective models
- Horror as Event
- Speculative realism at the movies: the object’s ontology in the horror film.
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