Reminder: Special Issue - Spineless: Online Horror and Narrative Networks

deadline for submissions: 
August 15, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Horror Studies
contact email: 

With the current spate of contemporary high-budget properties that have sought to engage and adapt online horror content, increasing attention has been turned to communities of amateur critics, writers, illustrators, and fans that work to create horror in digital space. Their influence has been felt in a variety of media, from the television series Channel Zero and Supernatural, to the film The Tall Man and video games like Slender and SCP: Containment Breach. Fora in Something Awful, “r/nosleep”, and the SCP Foundation represent attempts by massive communities to create negotiated fictions, imagining mythic spaces and enduring, horrific creatures. Likewise, fora dedicated to notoriously difficult horror texts like Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves provide a continual exegesis on the novel’s nested narratives and clues. Digital horror thus appears to be an engine driving the creation, production, and critical apparatus of contemporary horror fiction. Tina Marie Boyer, along with Andrew Peck and Shira Chess, has emphasized that these creations “obey the same rules of performativity, critique, embellishment, and progression as they do in the oral telling of the story” (Boyer 257). While these critics examine the anthropological infrastructure of online communities in their research, our interest lies in the possibility of literary criticism to provide a more focused reading of their individuated creations within the expectations of a genre.

In this special issue of Horror Studies, we invite contributors to consider how a genre responds to the creative energies of its own networked audience. “Spineless: Online Horror and Narrative Networks” will provide critical readings of the rapid, accretive mode of storytelling that has seen a rise in the wake of the digital. How are we to read and theorize these productions of an urgent, enthusiastic desire to be a part of a collective horror? Ultimately, the issue seeks to examine the increased prominence of online texts, the communities that build up around them, and how these come to inform mainstream productions of contemporary horror texts. 

  • How have the new infrastructures of digital media influenced the form and structure of popular online horror stories?
  • How do online fora demonstrate a conceptual bleed between fictional creation, discussion, and analysis?
  • What are the affective responses to digital horror content?
  • How do digital archives of horror such as the “Creepypasta” site constitute communities? How do these archives engage with the essential ephemerality of their texts?
  • If weird fiction can be characterized by exploring the limits to knowledge and perception, are these elements dramatized (or complicated) in the communal creation of these online worlds?
  • How does the circulation of digital horror worlds or characters (i.e., the multiple Youtube series about the Slenderman) engage in implicit or explicit dialogue with one another?
  • How do online horror communities engage other digital spaces and creations (from chat rooms to conspiracy theories to meme-culture)?
  • How do recent popular culture representations of communal digital space as haunted (i.e., Unfriended) negotiate the same interests as actual online communities?
  • Can we see in digitally-influenced texts like “Candle Cove” and The Raw Shark Texts and attempt to update the Gothic’s epistolary tradition?

Essays of approximately 8500 words (including footnotes and works cited) should be sent to Riley McDonald (rmcdon8@uwo.ca) and/or Thomas Stuart (tstuart9@uwo.ca) by August 15, 2017. Horror Studies uses Harvard Style in its formatting; authors should consult http://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/MediaManager/File/Intellect%20style%20guide.pdf and download the full style sheet.