‘Gothic Nature: New Directions in Eco-horror and the EcoGothic'

deadline for submissions: 
April 2, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Dr Elizabeth Parker, Emily Bourke, Dr Bernice Murphy

‘Horror is becoming the environmental norm.’ —Sara L. Crosby

Gothic and horror fictions have long functioned as vivid reflections of contemporary cultural fears. Wood argues that horror is ‘the struggle for recognition of all that our society represses or oppresses’, and Newman puts forward the idea that it ‘actively eliminates and exorcises our fears by allowing them to be relegated to the imaginary realm of fiction’.  Now, more than ever, the environment has become a locus of those fears for many people, and this conference seeks to investigate the wide range of Gothic- and horror-inflected texts that tackle the darker side of nature.

As we inch ever closer toward an anthropogenic ecological crisis, this type of fiction demands our attention. In 2009, Simon Estok highlighted the importance of ‘ecophobia’ in representations of nature, emphasising the need for ecocriticism to acknowledge the ‘irrational and groundless hatred of the natural world’ present in contemporary society. Tom J. Hillard responded to Estok’s call ‘to talk about how fear of the natural world is a definable and recognizable discourse’, suggesting that ‘we need look no further than the rich and varied vein of critical approaches used to investigate fear in literature.’ What happens, he asks, ‘when we bring the critical tools associated with Gothic fiction to bear on writing about nature?’

Gothic Nature seeks to address this question, interrogating the place of non-human nature in horror and the Gothic today, and showcasing the most exciting and innovative research currently being conducted in the field. We are especially interested in papers/panels which address ecocritical theory and endeavour to define and discern the distinctions between ‘ecohorror’ and ‘ecogothic’. We welcome academic papers from a variety of different subject backgrounds, as well as interdisciplinary work. Additionally, we also encourage creative submissions from artists and performers whose work intersects with these themes, and hope to provide a platform for a variety of print and performance art at the conference.

Subjects may include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Ecohorror and the ecogothic: theory and distinctions
  • Ecocriticism and horror literature/media
  • Ecocriticism and Gothic literature/media
  • Gothic nature/ecophobia
  • Global ecohorror/global ecogothic
  • Environmental activism and horror/the Gothic
  • Human nature vs. nonhuman nature
  • Rural Gothic
  • Landscapes of fear
  • Legends of haunted nature/Gothic nature and mythology
  • Monsters in nature/natural spectres
  • Climate change and Gothic nature
  • Environmental apocalypse
  • Animal horror
  • Gothic nature in art through the ages

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to gothicnaturetcd@gmail.com by April 2nd, 2017, and any informal enquiries to parkereh@tcd.ie or bourkee2@tcd.ie.

We look forward to welcoming you to Dublin in November.

— Dr Elizabeth Parker, Emily Bourke, Dr Bernice Murphy