Call for Papers:
(Don’t) Look Back: Our Nostalgia for Horror and Slasher Films
Editors: Karrȧ Shimabukuro and Wickham Clayton
On first consideration it may not seem like “nostalgia” and horror and slasher films have any clear connections. Usually nostalgia is applied to events and experiences that have a pleasant connotation, even if these pleasant feelings are a result of a rose-tinted view of the past. While nostalgia can refer to personal feelings as well as larger communal or cultural memory and pleasure, there is also an implied action to it- that someone is seeking to reclaim, or revisit a specific time period or place for an explicit reason. Applying this understanding to remakes, revisions, reimaginings helps us understand what the purpose of these reworked creations are, the work they’re doing, and how they build on and expand on an already understood and accepted set of narratives, tropes, characters, and beliefs.
Since the national and global trauma of 9/11 we have seen dozens of remakes, reboots, revisions, and reimaginings of horror and slasher films from the 1970s and 80s. Each work seeks to capture some element of the original- the simple understanding of good and evil, the audience reaction to scares, an aesthetic homage, the commercial popularity. If we shift our perspective to view these films through the lens of nostalgia, we can see that many of these narratives are grounded in trauma, the performance of it, the aftermath, how people survive and later work through it. Whether it is a movie, mini-series, television show, or video game, these remakes can be organized according to several subtopics that perform different work within the media and reflect different fears, anxieties, and desires of a specific historical and cultural moment, although the argument could be made that some texts belong in a variety of categories, and there is noticeable overlap.
We’re interested in texts from BIPOC scholars, especially chapters that apply new approaches to well-known films. Poltergeist (1982/2015) falls into the trap of appropriating Indigenous stories and lore, setting these figures and beliefs in the past, erasing them from the present narrative. To date an Indigenous scholar has not examined this. In a similar manner, while the nuclear setting of The Hills Have Eyes (1977/2006) is often considered in analysis, the Southwest setting, origin of colonial seizure of Native lands for nuclear testing, and the use of appropriated land, has not been.
Similarly, “traditional” horror films have often erased their Black characters or used them in exploitative ways. We’d welcome proposals that discuss films that seek to revise or fill the gap these films have. We’d also love to see proposals on traditionally racialized monsters in horror like zombies, and movies that present a new presentation of horror, calling out to but not replicating Anglo structures or tropes.
Proposals of roughly 350 words, with bio, should be submitted by 1 June 2020 to Karrá Shimabukuro firstname.lastname@example.org and Wickham Clayton email@example.com.
First drafts (6,000-8,000 words) due 31 December 2020. We welcome questions and expressions of interest at any stage.