CFP: Philosophy and Horror in Film, Literature and Popular Culture: Aesthetics, Politics, and Histories (Additional Chapters)

to be published by McFarland
Editors: Subashish Bhattacharjee (Jawaharlal Nehru University), Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns (Universidad de Buenos Aires)
Stichtag: 03.01.2021

In the first volume of his Horror of Philosophy trilogy—In the Dust of this Planet—Eugene Thacker calls the horror of philosophy “the isolation of those moments in which philosophy reveals its own limitations and constraints, moments in which thinking enigmatically confronts the horizon of its own possibility.” The wider genre of “horror” encompassing such genres as literature, cinema, and the arts exposes its viewers/readers/audience to a world of conflict between the selfsame subject and the of the ‘other’ which involves the element of horror. The genre has invariably aided in a metaphorical confrontation with the genre consumers’ systemic confrontation with a reality outside that of the perceived. Stephen King had produced a definition of “horror” as “the unnatural, spiders, the size of bears, the dead walking around, it’s when the lights go out and something with claws grabs you by the arm.” While the above statement does not present a wholesome definition of what could constitute a philosophy of horror, it establishes the groundwork for the same—a philosophy of horror is not a definitive introspection into the genre, or an intervention into it, but rather an attempt to amalgamate the multifarious roles of the genre into presenting a deeper understanding of human psychology while it enters into a transaction with a hyperreal/surreal “reality”. Whether we discuss, at this juncture, Mary Shelley’s manufacture—an in-human contraption—or that of Poe’s blend of the gothic or Lovecraft’s alienating cosmic horror, or, moving into the screen, the shadows of Nosferatu or the veiled sociopolitical satirical horror that is The Night of the Living Dead, horror as a genre has been an adherent to the notion of genre-bending and genre-warping in order to comprehend the realities beyond, or underlying the real.

Freud asserted that horror its based on the “other” that is rooted in the subconscious, formulating the foundations for his concept of the “uncanny” (unheimliche)—something strangely familiar—settling the genre of horror firmly within the individual recipient’s familiar milieu (one may well recall the Mariner’s fright at the spectres of his former friends rising from the dead, or how the homefront becomes a space of/for terror in StrangersStraw Dogs, or Funny Games), or how the ‘interior’ becomes the site of the horror (Haute Tension). This psychological element of horror is highlighted and further elaborated upon by Lacan, Deleuze, Žižek, the semantic element by Derrida, or philosophers such as Noël Carroll who have endeavoured to produce a philosophical context of horror. While Carroll believes that fantasy and horror operate by challenging and dissolving perceived limits of reality and so violate our normal perspective (The Philosophy of Horror), for Žižek it is the science of psychoanalysis that pieces together our ‘dissociated knowledge’ into the truth that threatens us with madness: the kernel of reality is the horror of the real. Or we may revert to Lovecraft, for whom the ‘dissociated knowledge’ of the cosmos threatens us with its infinite possibilities. In almost all of these generic and critical/theoretical instances, the genre of horror remains loaded with meanings and critical/crucial interventions into our perceived realities—whether it is through our desire to apprehend the absent real in Dark City, or the absence of social illusions and the overpowering anxiety in Possession, the literal “angst” of Angst, the regressive obliteration of human senses of the real and fictional in The ExorcistEvil Dead, or The Conjuring, or, if we venture into the grotesque and the macabre of gore, Cannibal HolocaustThe Human CentipedeTexas Chainsaw MassacreHostelWrong Turn, or Saw, and the myriad reiterations of the above as well as the several sub-genres of horror, the genre manages to suspend the receiver’s sense of disbelief by metaphorically ‘getting under our skin’.

The proposed volume undertakes to read into this phenomenon, of horror, as a philosophical statement. We are interested in essays that look into the genre of horror and its sub-genres (body horror, disaster horror, horror drama, psychological horror, science fiction horror, slasher, home invasion, supernatural horror, gothic horror and others) across the mediums of literature, cinema, digital cultures, and the arts from a philosophically informed perspective, or those that develop a philosophical perspective of their own. Essays (within 8000 words) are to be submitted on, but not restricted to, the following themes:

  • Philosophers on Horror
  • Philosophies of Horror
  • Horror genres/sub-genres and philosophy
  • Horror and psychology/psychoanalysis
  • The sociology of Horror
  • The politics of Horror
  • The aesthetics of Horror
  • Philosophy and literatures of Horror (genres, authors)
  • Philosophy and Horror cinemas (genres, directors)
  • Philosophy and Horror comics
  • Philosophy and Horror digital cultures (video games, digital dissemination of horror etc)
  • Philosophy and Horror in the arts (performing, presentative)

The deadline for abstracts between 200-400 words is January, 3, 2021 (complete essays between 5000 to 8000 words long -excluding Works Cited- will be welcome as well). Please, submit your abstract with a brief biography. Queries and submissions may be directed to both, and

Feel free to contact the editors with any questions you may have about the project and please feel free to share this announcement with any colleague who may be interested in the volume.

Subashish Bhattacharjee is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of North Bengal, India. He edits the interdisciplinary online journal The Apollonian, and is the Editor of Literary Articles and Academic Book Reviews of Muse India. His doctoral research, on the cultures of built space, is from the Centre for English Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, where he has also been a UGC-Senior Fellow. His recent publications include Queering Visual Cultures (Universitas, 2018), and New Women’s Writing (Cambridge Scholars, co-edited with GN Ray, 2018).

Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns (PHD) is an Assistant Professor at the Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) – Facultad de Filosofía y Letras (Argentina)-. He teaches courses on international horror film and is director of the research group on horror cinema “Grite.” He has published chapters in the books To See the Saw Movies: Essays on Torture Porn and Post 9/11 Horror, edited by John Wallis, Critical Insights: Alfred Hitchcock, edited by Douglas Cunningham, A Critical Companion to James Cameron, edited by Antonio Sanna, and Gender and Environment in Science Fiction, edited by Bridgitte Barclay, among others. He has authored a book about Spanish horror TV series Historias para no Dormir and edited James Wan: Critical Essays for McFarland (forthcoming 2021).

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