CFP: Don’t Look: Representations of Horror in the 21st Century

University of Edinburgh
April 28, 2018
Stichtag: 2018 02 19

We live in scary, uncertain times. In recent years, we have witnessed the rise of hard-line nationalism, the ascendency of racist alt-right politics and attacks on the increasingly fragile-looking institution of democracy. We contend, daily, with the threat of seemingly inevitable ecological catastrophe. The Horror genre has always been understood as a potent mirror and bellwether, able to digest the socio-cultural and political currents of a given moment and feed them back to us in uncompromising and disturbing ways. This conference seeks to consider how representations of horror are changing in our own contemporary moment, where the line between fiction and reality, truth and lies appears to be fraying beyond recognition.

Recent academic scholarship on horror has diverged towards topics such as: fear and the appearance of reality within found footage horror; the multisensory perception of horror in video games, television and theme parks; and the rise of concepts such as ‘The Horror of Philosophy’. There has also been a focus towards contemporary studies of Queer Horror and appropriation, audience participation, and changing tastes in horror fandom. This one-day interdisciplinary symposium seeks to analyse representations of horror since 2000, with particular emphasis on current trends and cycles, and the ways in which horror can be said to reflect contemporary anxieties and fears.  We are specifically interested in determining some of the ways in which these aesthetics have changed and why. We would especially welcome research that addresses the causes of some of these changes in representations of horror across media and academic disciplines.

PAPERS (for 20-minute presentations)

Topics might include (but are not limited to):

  • Contemporary Representations of Body Horror
  • Generic Mutations
  • New Horror Television (American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, Stranger Things, Hannibal, etc.)
  • Abjection and Transgression
  • Horror and Trauma
  • Horror, Gender, and Sexuality
  • Experimental/Avant-Garde/Underground Horror: Film, Art and Literature
  • Horror and Nostalgia
  • Transmutation/Metamorphosis
  • News Media Representations of Horror
  • Virtual Reality (VR) horror
  • Horror and Disability
  • Contemporary Cult Horror
  • New Genres, Subgenres and Hybrids
  • Horror and the Senses
  • Queer Horror and Performance
  • Horror Fandom and Audiences
  • Literary Horror Adaptations
  • Shudder, Chiller and Contemporary Horror Networks and Viewing Platforms


As a postgraduate led symposium, we also welcome submissions from Masters and PhD students to present work-in-progress papers, which will be 15 minutes in length (as opposed to the usual 20 minutes). We believe these work-in-progress panels will be useful for gaining helpful feedback from peers on ongoing research.


Please submit proposals of 200-250 words, along with a short biographical note (100 words) to by Wednesday 7th February 2018. Accepted presentations should be 20 minutes in length (15 min for work in progress).

We also welcome video essay proposals. Contributors should upload their video to Vimeo, preferably to a password protected page, then email the relevant URL and password, along with a 200-word proposal and a short biographical note (100 words) to dontlookconference@gmail.comby Wednesday 7th February 2018. PLEASE NOTE: We ask that video essays be no longer than 10 minutes in length, to allow sufficient time to make a formal presentation after the video is screened.

Applicants will be notified of the outcome of submissions by Monday 19th February 2018. Updates on the symposium will be made available on our Word Press site:

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