CFP: Reimagining the Victim in Post-1970s Horror Media

Edited collection
Amsterdam University Press
Editors: Madelon Hoedt, Marko Lukic
Stichtag: 01.07.2021

While the analysis of the horror genre, particularly its contemporary articulations, uncovers a myriad of different topics (new (and old) theoretical paradigms, alternative interpretations of familiar narratives and tentative readings of new ones, as well as the progressive expansion and relocation of the genre within a larger trans and interdisciplinary context), some of its basic premises remain inadequately explored. One such issue, or concept, is the notion of the victim, and its position, as well as function/purpose, within the larger framework of the genre. While being an unavoidable part of the genre narrative from its earliest endeavors, the ambition of the victim is to embody, articulate, and finally project all the fears and anxieties (introduced by the narrator/author) towards its target audience. The audience in turn catalyzes and identifies with the projected trauma, while simultaneously enjoying the suspension of disbelief. This dynamic, although simplistic in its nature, functions as an extremely prolific interpretative context confirmed through decades of highly focused research. However, the developed binary system bonding the readers/viewers with the imaginary, but nevertheless doomed victim remains, although logical, a rather “unfair” one, with the analytical focus being placed on the thoughts, experiences, and reactions of the viewers. The (fictitious) victims consequently retain a symbolically blank role, prone to inscriptions of meaning in accordance with a more generalized or overarching narrative.

What this call proposes is a possible unsettling of this binarity by challenging the perspective of the target audience through a re-evaluation and therefore re-reading of the concept of the victim(s) as well as their perspectives. Using different theoretical and disciplinary approaches as analytical prisms, the collection aims at reframing the position, role, and meaning of the notion of victim and victimhood within the horror genre ranging from the post-1970s period all the way to current articulations, regardless of the narrative medium (literature, film, theatre, videogames, comics, etc.). The idea here is to move away from existing trends of examining the victim as a reflection of the audience and their responses, and instead to engage the concept of the victim as a category in itself. This opens up questions about who may be regarded as a victim, as well as how they might be defined or how existing types might be (re)categorized.

Essays may explore, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • interpretations of victim and victimhood in different media (literature, film, theatre, videogames, etc.)
  • interpretations of victim and victimhood in different horror (sub)genres (Gothic, slasher, torture porn, found footage, etc.)
  • definitions of victims: archetypal victims (such as the final girl); victims as characters
  • victims and modes of being (dead or alive; victim as protagonist or antagonist)
  • structure and viewpoint used in victim narratives in horror
  • (overcoming) trauma in horror’s explorations of victims
  • the victim and narratives of empowerment and/or helplessness
  • framing of victim narratives in relation to audiences in different media
  • comparative studies of victims in different periods of horror (for example, the victim in Gothic texts)

The collection is intended for publication with the Horror and Gothic Media Studies imprint of Amsterdam University Press ( We invite all interested scholars to send their proposal (400-500 words) and short bio (max. 200 words, including author’s academic affiliation) to by July 1, 2021. Full essays should be 6000-8000 words (incl. references, notes, and citations) and use the MLA style guide.

  • Deadline for abstracts: July 1, 2021.
  • Notification of acceptance: July 31, 2021.
  • Deadline for essay submission: November 15, 2021.