You can browse all the keynote and panel videos clicking on the thematic links below!
In recent years, many popular culture artifacts outside of the usual terrain of horror and the Gothic have exploited Gothic modes to reveal the terrors of everyday life. Sophisticated narratives have employed gothic modes to take on disruption, questioning reality, as well as challenging the boundaries of conformity and raising issues related to xenophobia, death, social anxieties, alienation, displacement, and self-consciousness.Because of the versatility and diversity of gothic modes and their—more or less subtle—exploitation across media and popular culture products, we call for contributions fitting the thematic lines described below.
Ever since the publication of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Fall of the House of Usher” in 1839, the house as a locus of all sorts of personal, sexual and spatial tensions has been a preeminent site for the Gothic in US popular culture. In a country that had purportedly left the aristocracy of the Old World and its decaying ruins behind, the ordinary site of the family house became the favored space where gothic narratives and modes could be channeled, giving rise to a long-standing tradition that explores the perils lurking in the realm of the familiar. Gothic modes have been exploited to tackle the spatial dimension, especially in relation to the idea of home and family, family trauma, the destabilization of the domestic, the uncanny, and the idea of home as a metaphor for the nation.
Keynotes: Evert J. van Leeuwen and Kevin Corstorphine
Gothic narratives revolving around invading non-humans and unspoken anxieties related with the assumed dangers of “racial intrusion” have been used to elaborate more or less overtly on ethnic otherness. The contact and confrontation with the ethnic other have been linked to the unwanted blurring of both metaphorical and material boundaries. The ethnic minority body has been perceived as the unsettling product of a physical and cultural miscegenation, an unstable blend evoking ambiguous representations transgressively exotic and immorally, savagely inferior altogether. At the same time, Gothic narratives protagonized by ethnic minority subjects have been created, giving voice to their own anxieties and perceptions of ethnic boundaries and xenophobic terrors.
Keynotes: Enrique Ajuria Ibarra and Maisha L. Wester
American culture has maintained a strained relationship with nature and the environment ever since the arrival of the first settlers. The vast lands that they encountered were conceptualized simultaneously as a bountiful Garden of Eden that would facilitate the colonial experience, and as a “howling wilderness” that threatened the first, precarious settlements. Environment-related anxieties have permeated into all cultural forms, often through Gothic imagery. More recently, environmental concerns have more to do with the durability of the planet and the increasingly worrying consequences of human activities upon it, often resulting in (post)apocalyptic narratives.
Keynotes: Christy Tidwell and Michelle Poland & Elizabeth Parker
Body-related anxieties have often been connected to gender, sexuality, and physical otherness, as fears and struggles intrinsic to the wish for liberating repressed, unconventional, or assumedly immoral desires. Socially imposed boundaries blur, connecting with feelings of guilt, degeneration, excess, disruption. The corporeal “other” becomes the image of transgression, depravity, and the breaking of taboos related to the body in all its forms. Themes related to sexual pleasure, physical abjection, body transformation, and gender become at the same time stigmas and boundaries to cross in order to express and face one’s own true self.
Keynotes: Kyle Bishop and Sorcha Ní Fhlainn
Children and YA gothic narratives have dealt with anxieties related with development, a growing awareness of the self and one’s own sexuality, the transformations within the family environment, the increasing necessity to cope with external contexts. The creation of gothic worlds—belonging to either an alternative reality or the characters’ imagination—has also been exploited as a means to represent the complex passages between different stages of life, coming-of-age experiences, and conflicts internal to the characters’ everyday life as children.
Keynotes: Michael Howarth and Julia Round
The extent of contemporary human reliance on technology has stirred up new embodiments of the uncanny elements found in traditional gothic horror. As a response to the fear of technological advances, anxieties about the future and parasocial relationships, robots and automata have replaced the ghouls of our nightmares. Similarly, in lieu of a haunted mansion or a labyrinth, we come to find the liminal space of our technological anxieties represented in our immaterial existence in the online realm.
Keynotes: Xavier Aldana Reyes and Anya Heise-vor der Lippe