Queer Slashers, SCMS, Denver, April 1-5, 2020

deadline for submissions: 
August 5, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Peter Marra
contact email: 

CFP: Queer Slashers

SCMS – Denver, Colorado

April 1-5, 2020

            Not all queers in cinema are killers and not all killers are queer. Yet the fervent success of the formulaic combination of the two speaks to a uniquely symbiotic entwinement. Early killer films highlighted effeminate, socially ostracized, or otherwise ‘strange’ men in killer roles. They also commonly cast queer actors in these roles, including Ivor Novello in The Lodger (1927), Laird Cregar in Hangover Square (1945), and, most famously, Anthony Perkins in Psycho (1960), to name just a few. The canonical slasher cycle of 1978-1985, popularly said to begin with Halloween (1978), has been described as one in which killers tend to display traits of feminine ‘otherness’ or become feminized across the run of the film. [1] These films have also been said to denature gender and push characters toward a post-gender identity. [2] In 2019, we are developing a distinctly queer canon of slashers filled with queer sex and self-identified queer characters – such as Stranger By the Lake (2013) and Knife + Heart (2018) – that altogether refigure the more implicit and queer-coded subtext of the canonical slasher cycle of the 70’s and 80’s and its earlier precursors.

            In our current political moment, one in which progress for queer rights seems to have made great strides but queer people still face harsh and sometimes violent backlash, it feels more pertinent than ever to ask: What is queer about the slasher? Why has queer identity and sexuality been so historically tethered to this particular pattern of films? What did that mean for queer people before us and what does it mean to us now?

            Topics may include but are not limited to:

- Queer perspectives on classic slashers, modern slashers, or slasher precursors

- Contemporary engagements with representations of trans and non-binary genders in films that depict gender non-normative killers

- Historical arguments about the slasher’s intersection with queer rights issues and evolving cultural perspectives on queer identities

- Ways that modern slashers redeploy classic slasher tropes from queer perspectives and/or with queer characters

- Homonormativity and the ‘normative’ queer couple in the modern slasher

- The role of POV and stalking in the slasher – then and now?

- Thoughts on the roles of gender, sexuality, queerness, and normativity in determining characters death or survival in the slasher

- Contemporary queer reclamations of the slasher in queer cinema and queer performance

- Studies of queer-coded representations in classic slashers and slasher precursors

- Thematic, stylistic, and historical connections between slasher movies and queer cinema

All those interested, please submit a title, abstract (300-350 words), brief bio, and 3–5 bibliographic sources to Peter Marra at peter.marra@wayne.edu by August 5th. Decisions will be communicated by August 15th. Please also direct any questions to the e-mail above.

[1] Carol J. Clover, Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1992), 40; 186.

[2] Jack Halberstam, Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters (Durham: Duke UP, 1995), 141.