[UPDATE] Contemporary Horror Fiction

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University of Westminster (June 18th and 19th 2010)

Keynote Speaker: Professor David Punter (Bristol University)

Throughout the twentieth and beginnings of the twenty first century the popularity of horror fiction has remained a constant, its resilience and adaptability enabling it to survive in the face of a succession of tumultuous aesthetic movements such as Modernism, Post-Modernism and Post-colonialism. Part of this success seems to lie in the liminality of the form, with many critics being unable to evaluate whether its merits lie closer to the more respected area of nineteenth century Gothic or the trashy sensationalism of pulp literature.

Yet this supposedly "subaltern" genre shows few signs of decline as we reach the end of the 00's, indeed the Horror novel seems to be encountering yet another groundswell of success with works by authors such as Stephen King and Clive Barker regularly selling in the hundreds of thousands and popular series of novels such as Stephenie Meyer's Twilight cycle, Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire novels and Jeff Lindsay's Dexter narratives all occupying positions in the bestseller lists and finding immense success when adapted into other media.

Despite the enduring popularity of the genre it has largely been resisted by the academic establishment with few horror texts being taught in universities and only a handful of critical studies being carried out. The proposed conference hopes to continue and build upon this nascent investigation into the merits of the Horror novel as a distinct and cohesive form, one that offers the chance for a range of diverse and illuminating ideological, cultural and political readings that have previously been (largely) overlooked).

We welcome papers on issues including (but not exclusively):

• The Genre's origins in the Gothic
• Early twentieth century Horror – Weird Tales and H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Robert Bloch etc
• Splatter-punk - Poppy Z Brite, David J. Schow, Jack Ketchum etc
• Horror Best-sellers – Stephen King, Clive Barker, James Herbert
• Horror Criticism – academic and popular ("Supernatural Horror in Literature", Danse Macabre)
• Literary adaptation – Film, Television, Graphic Novels, Video Games
• The marketing and merchandising of Horror Fiction
• Contemporary Horror Fiction – Anne Rice, Graham Masterton, Caitlin R Kiernan
• Children's Horror Fiction – Stephenie Meyer, Horror High, Point Horror
• Differences between American Horror Fiction and work produced elsewhere
• Horror Fiction's relationship to other forms of speculative fiction including Science Fiction and Fantasy
• The representation of race, sex, gender in Horror Fiction
• The integration of Horror into the work of "mainstream" authors such as J.G. Ballard, Angela Carter, Bret Easton Ellis, Chuck Palahniuk and Joyce Carol Oates

Individual proposals should be sent in the form of a 300-word abstract accompanied by a short bio and contact details
Panel proposals are welcomed. These should include the title of the panel, presenters' names, presentation titles, abstracts, relevant biographical info and email addresses.

Proposals must be submitted electronically as an attachment in .doc or .rtf format by Feb 26th 2010 to the conference email address:

The conference is co-organised by The UK Network for Modern Fiction Studies and The Centre for Contemporary Fiction and Narrative (Northampton University)