2015 Conference

How to Talk About Horror

October 22-24, 2015

Keynote speaker: Maisha Wester

Call for Papers

“Horror,” Eugene Thacker contends, “is a non-philosophical attempt to think about the world-without-us philosophically” (8). Beginning with his 2011 work In The Dust Of This Planet, Thacker’s work on horror has lead, according to Quinn Lester’s recent article in The New Inquiry, to a revival in thinking about this unthinkable possibility.

For our 15th annual conference, titled “How to Talk About Horror,” to be held October 22-24, 2015, the English Graduate Organization (EGO) at the University of Florida aims to continue this scholarly conversation by providing a space to discuss all that is frightening and unsettling. We are now accepting proposals for presentations, panels, and creative work involving horror in any way, shape, or form. Along with the arguments posed by Thacker, we also wish to consider how horror might help us understand our individual and collective past, present, and future. This inquiry comes from recognizing the ways in which horror has been used throughout various points in history as a way to explore the unknown.

Our 15th annual conference seeks to clarify and explore these questions: What specific fears and concerns does horror address? How does horror impact our lives and elicit change? And finally, can horror sometimes be a desirable and productive affective and sensory mode?

This conference is interdisciplinary; we welcome individual and panel proposal submissions from a variety of fields, including, but not limited to: literary studies, rhetoric and composition, cultural studies, women’s and gender studies, postcolonial studies, critical theory, comics and visual rhetoric, and film studies. For this conference, we would also like to provide opportunities where authors, creative writers, and visual artists can present their work alongside scholarly research.

Possible topics, for both academic and creative presentations, include, but are certainly not limited to:

Popular culture and horror
The Gothic
National identity
Race and ethnicity
Gender and sexuality
Loss, trauma, and melancholia
Urban legends, folktales, and mythology
Fandom and participatory culture
Media studies and horror
Utopia/dystopia (disaster, pandemic, and apocalypse, etc…)
Bodies, biotechnology, and posthumanism
Animal studies
Globalism/regionalism (hauntings and haunted spaces)
Green studies/sustainability
Digital media/media ecology/digital environments
Horror and terror of/in institutional spaces

Please submit an abstract of up to 250 words for a 20-minute presentation to ufl.ego@gmail.com by Saturday, September 12, 2015. Along with your submission, contact information, and affiliation, please include a few keywords for your presentation. For panel proposals, please submit the abstracts of the panelists along with a rationale and description of what the panel seeks to accomplish. In addition, please indicate any a/v requirements. Authors of accepted papers will be notified the week of September 19, 2015. For questions concerning the conference, please contact us at ufl.ego@gmail.com


10:45 – 11:00 | Opening remarks

11:00 – 12:20 | The V Word
Moderator: Mitch Murray

Solsiree Lynn Skarlinsky, Florida International University
“Haunted Genes”
Jillian Gilmer, University of Colorado Boulder
“‘Love or Death’: Western Parasitism in Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”
Derrick King, University of Florida
“Vampire Intellectuals: Autonomy, Political Engagement, and the University in Only Lovers Left Alive and the Carmilla Web Series”

12:30 – 1:30: Lunch

1:30 – 2:50 | To Serve Man
Moderator: Kenneth Kidd

Mitch Murray, University of Florida
“Cannibalism, Chef’s Table, Hannibal, and the Fourth Plate”
Natalie M. Dorfeld, Florida Institute of Technology
“If Slaughterhouses Were Made of Glass: The Horror of Animal Studies”
Ameen Mettawa, University of Florida
“The Machines Rose from the Ashes of the Nuclear Fire: On Anthropic Inversion”

3:00 – 4:20 | Ahh! Reel Monsters
Moderator: Timothy Robinson

Yurong Jiang, Emory University
“The Success Story of Psycho”
Gus Cook, Emory University
“Acquiring Information and Turning it into Something Stupendous and Awful:” David Cronenberg and Steven Shaviro in a Networked, Post-Cinematic Society.”
Pedro Noel Doreste, Emory University
“Streams of Horror: Graphical User Interface as Mise-en-scène”

4:30 – 5:20 | Uncanny Peaks and Valleys
Moderator: Norma Aceves

Jaquelin Elliott, University of Florida
“The Leviathan and The Cyborg: The Influence of Moby-Dick on Sci-Fi Horror Film”
Ashley Keyser, University of Florida
“Disgusting Poetry: Monsters, Hybrids, Freaks, Machines”

5:30 – 6:00 | Reading: Stephanie Smith

10:30 – 11:50 | Tales of the Unexpected
Moderator: Srimayee Basu

Camille Johnson, California State University, Fullerton
“Turning Demonic: The Horror of Humanity in The Day of the Locust”
Kelly Beck, University of Florida
“Obsession with Possession: Lacan’s Formative Mirror Stage as a Function of Psyche Fragmentation in Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden”

12:00 – 1:00 | Lunch

1:00 – 2:00 | Drawing Out Evil
Moderator: Kayley Thomas

Madeline B. Gangnes, University of Florida
“Intangible Horrors: Wells’s Invisible Man Seen in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”
Spencer Chalifour, University of Florida
“The Horror of Warfare, The Allure of Gambling: How Hellblazer: Pandemonium Represents the Destruction of the Iraq War”
Asmaa Ghonim, University of Florida
“Can Hitler and Voldemort Come Out to Play: Evil Babies, Monster Children, and the De-aging Phenomenon”

2:10 – 3:20 | Beyond the Pale
Moderator: Karina Vado

Samantha Morse, University of California, Los Angeles
“Persistent Pursuits: Prolongation versus domination in José de Espronceda’s El estudiante de Salamanca”
Jonathan Hernandez, University of Florida
“Containing Contamination: Cuban Identity in Jennine Capó Crucet’s Make Your Home Among Strangers”
Rachel Hartnett, Florida Atlantic University
“Savage Wolves: Fears of Miscegenation within Stephenie Meyer’s The Twilight Saga”

3:30 – 4:50 | Double, Double Foil and Trouble
Moderator: Jaquelin Elliott

Rafael Hernandez, University of Florida
“The Horror! The Horror!: The Horror of Heads in Heart of Darkness”
Megan Fowler, University of Florida
“‘You and I Have Begun to Blur’: The Double and Queer Monstrosity in Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal”

5:00 – 6:20 | Dark, Twisted Fantasies
Moderator: Spencer Chalifour

Mikayla Beaudrie, Florida State College at Jacksonville
“‘Blood on the Leaves’: African-American Rhetoric, Gothic Remixes, and Hip-Hop Narratives”
Leila Estes, University of Florida
“Mind, Body and Soul: Exploring Masculinity in Blaxploitation Horror Films”
Karina Vado and Chesya Burke, University of Florida
“‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’: Kanye West’s Monstrous Image of Black Empowerment and its Subversion of the White Capitalist Patriarchal System”

10:00 – 11:20 | In Gendered Spaces No One Can Hear You Scream
Moderator: Megan Fowler

Norma Aceves, University of Florida
“Sex in the Castle: Historiography and the Conversation of Gender in the Gothic”
Sonia Lupher, University of Pittsburgh
“American Mary and Female Horror: How Do Women Feel About Horror?”
Dalina Aimée Perdomo, University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez
“Final Girl, Grown Up: New Cinematic Monstresses and Indiscriminate Abjection”

11:30 – 12:50 | White Pages, Dark Matter
Moderator: Mary Roca

Tiffany Fajardo, University of Miami
“The Writing of the Disaster: (In)scribing Postmodernity in Lord Byron’s “Darkness” and David Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress”
Samantha Richmond, Florida Atlantic University
“A Loss of Language, A Loss of Identity in Toni Morrison’s Beloved”
Asmaa Ghonim, University of Florida
Reading: Untitleds

1:00 – 2:00 | Lunch

2:00 – 3:20 | Laughing in the Dark
Moderator: Asmaa Ghonim

Srimayee Basu, University of Florida
“Representing Horror Through the Absurd: reading Kafka’s The Trial and The Metamorphosis”
Gareth O’Neal, California State University Fullerton
“Iä Camus Fhtagn!: The Absurdism in H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos”
Nici Preston, Goldsmiths College University of London
“The Necessity of the Abject Other – As Portrayed in the Film, The Evil Dead, by Director Sam Raimi, 1981”


4:00 – 5:30 | Guest Speaker: Stephanie Boluk, University of California, Davis

All Talk, No Bite: The Zombie’s Serial Semiotics

Apocalypse—the fear of a totalizing “end”—is a serial phenomena. It’s always the end of the world and the persistent desire to write large the anxieties of individual mortality and historical change is serially renewed within each new generation’s eschatological imaginary. As such, the apocalyptic figure of the zombie not only functions as a mutating metaphor adapting to express the cultural fears of any given moment, but it also reflects the characteristics of the medium through which it is represented. Just as plague narratives both conveyed a fear of the end times and operated as a metaphor for the dissemination of early print media, today the zombie serves as a homology for the virality of digital media itself. Starting with examples that hit close to home such as the release of a “Zombie Attack: Disaster Preparedness Simulation Exercise” on UF’s e-Learning Support Services as a prank in 2009, in this talk Stephanie Boluk will trace the history of the zombie metaphor from its industrial debut on the silver screen to its digital proliferation across networked and programmable media, culminating with a reading of race and labour in Valve Corporation’s videogame series Left 4 Dead. Although videogame players are often pejoratively described as zombies, hypnotized by the screen and compelled to obey the demands of a digital puppet master, in Left 4 Dead the player’s digital labour is zombified. From White Zombie to Left 4 Dead and beyond, the zombie can not be pinned down and continues to mutate like a virus: a form of serial semiotics that does not seem to die.

5:45 – 7:15 | Keynote Speaker: Maisha Wester, Indiana University Bloomington

Screams from Shadowed Places: Defining an African American Gothic Literary Tradition

This presentation theorizes appropriations of the Gothic genre in African American Literature such as Corregidora (Gayle Jones) and “The Child Who Favored Daughter” (Alice Walker). After a brief overview of the racial ideologies implicit in the Gothics production of terror, I’ll illustrate how black writers manipulate the genre to critique the gothic’s traditional racial ideologies to critique oppressive fictional (and social) mechanisms that construct their bodies as monstrous; and how black writers appropriate and re-articulate the Gothic as a useful vehicle for the enunciation of the peculiar terrors and complexities of black existence in America.

7:30 – 10:00 | Reception


CFP PDF available here.

Program PDF available here.