Folk Horror in the 21st Century, is a two-day conference to be hosted by Falmouth University (UK) on Thursday September 5 and Friday September 6, 2019. The conference organizers Ruth Heholt (Falmouth University, UK) and Dawn Keetley (Lehigh University, USA) invite proposals on all aspects of folk horror, in all periods, across all regions and in all mediums, exploring the meanings and manifestations of the folk horror renaissance in the 21st century.
Keynote and plenary speakers: Tanya Krzywinska (Falmouth University), Catherine Spooner (Lancaster University) and Bernice Murphy (Trinity College Dublin).
Since at least 2010, critics and bloggers have been working to define folk horror, understand its appeal, and establish its key texts, including what has become the central triumvirate of the folk horror canon of the 1960s and 1970s—Witchfinder General (Michael Reeves, 1968), Blood on Satan’s Claw (Piers Haggard, 1971), and The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy, 1973).
The 1960s and 1970s also saw a rise in folk horror texts in British literature and TV series: Robin Redbreast (1970), BBC’s A Ghost Story for Christmas (1971-78), Penda’s Fen (1974), Children of the Stones (1977), and Alan Garner’s novels The Owl Service (1967) and Red Shift (1973).
Critics have also begun to uncover a rich pre-history for the folk horror of the 1960s and 70s, looking back to the 19th and early 20th century fiction of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Arthur Machen, and M. R. James. But the history of folk horror can be traced still further back, to Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Shakespeare, and the mystical poetry and witchcraft plays of the seventeenth century.
At the same time, directors in the 21st century have been re-inventing the genre with such new incarnations with films such as The Blair Witch Project (1999), Eden Lake (2008), Wake Wood (2009), Kill List (2011), A Field in England (2013), The Witch (2015), The Hallow (2015), Without Name (2016), Apostle (2018), and Hereditary (2018).
Literature too has seen a renaissance of folk horror novels and texts: Adam Nevill’s The Ritual (2011), Andrew Michael Hurley’s The Loney (2014) and Devil’s Day (2017), Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s Hex (2016), Joyce Carol Oates’ The Corn Maiden (2011) and John Langan’s The Fisherman (2016).
This conference will aim to explore and represent the ‘state of the art’ of folk horror scholarship about all periods and regions, and so we invite submissions that take up any aspect of folk horror in film, TV, literature, art, or music. We are also extremely interested in the idea of Global folk horror from Africa, Asia and South America for example.
These topics could include, but certainly aren’t limited to:
- history of folk horror
- definitions of folk horror
- religion and folk horror
- the political trajectories of folk horror (conservative retreat, progressive renewal etc.)
- agriculture and folk horror
- national identity and folk horror (local vs global, rural vs urban)
- gender, race, and / or class in folk horror
- transgressing and limiting borders
- the devil
- the figure of the witch
- paganism in folk horror
- blogging and folklore
- New ‘myths’ such as Slenderman
- Digital games as folk horror
- the built and natural environments of folk horror
- folk horror in the “lost decades” of the 1980s and 1990s
- re-inventing folk horror in the late 20th and early 21st century
- the Gothic/EcoGothic and folk horror
- folk horror in the digital age
- female-authored/directed folk horror
- global folk horror
- transnational folk horror
- oral histories/tales
Please send abstracts of 300 words and a short bio to conference organizers Ruth Heholt of Falmouth University (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dawn Keetley of Lehigh University (email@example.com) by April 1, 2019. We are both also very happy to answer any questions at any point.
We plan to put together an edited collection that includes select conference papers.