Proposed Collection: 1980s American Horror Fiction, abstracts Oct. 30, 2010

full name / name of organization: 
Steffen Hantke

Call for Papers

Proposed Collection: 1980s American Horror Fiction

Editor: Steffen Hantke, Sogang University
Deadline for Proposal/Abstract Submission: October 30, 2010

With the publication of William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist and Tom Tryon's The Other in 1971, as well as Stephen King's Carrie in 1975 and Salem's Lot in 1975, horror fiction in the U.S. began to emerge as a (sub-)literary genre capable of dominating the commercial market, in paperback and sometimes even in hardcover. By the 1980s, King's fiction, together with that by Peter Straub, Dean Koontz, and Anne Rice had become a staple of bestseller lists, drawing into the spotlight a host of other writers—some forgettable, but many talented, underappreciated, or by now altogether unduly forgotten—who added momentum, volume, and nuance to what was to become an unparalleled boom period for American horror fiction. For roughly a decade, horror fiction proved capable of outselling science fiction and fantasy. Creatively exhausted by commercial exploitation, however, the boom began to fade by the late 1980s and had ended altogether by the early 1990s. Though writers like King and Straub have survived the collapse, most of their compatriots have vanished from publication, moved to small presses, or switched to more lucrative genres. As a result, commercial horror fiction has, to the present day, never regained its commercial viability and market dominance.

Through a variety of approaches—to individual texts, authors and their careers, and marketing practices—the collection as a whole aims at exploring this boom period in American horror fiction as a coherent literary, cultural, and economic phenomenon, tracing its developmental arc and idiosyncratic shape.

Possible topics for individual essays include, but are not limited to:

- the prehistory of the boom (Ira Levin, William Peter Blatty, Tom Tryon, etc.)
- blockbuster authors (Stephen King, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, etc.)
- general authors (T.E.D. Klein, Joseph Citro, Michael McDowell, Charles Grant, Richard Laymon, etc.)
- publishing formats (experiments in serialization [King's Green Mile, McDowell's Blackwater, Saul's Blackstone Chronicles], single-author collections [Barker's Books of Blood], anthologies [McCauley's Dark Forces, Sammons' Splatterpunks], publishers and imprints [Avon, Tor, etc.], the magazine market, etc.)
- themes (regionalism, the American small town, etc.)
- contexts (the Reagan years, the end of the Cold War, mutual exchanges between fiction and cinema, other national literary traditions, genre fiction and literary fiction, horror fiction and other popular genres)
- production and reception (cover art, fan communities, etc.)
- literary style, aesthetic aspects

Also encouraged are interviews with authors, artists, literary agents, publishers, etc.

Proposals and abstracts should be submitted electronically only (as email attachments in WORD format), and should at least be two pages in length (the more detailed, the better); they should also be accompanied by a current CV. All submissions should constitute original work.

Please send your submission to:
Prof. Steffen Hantke, Sogang University, Seoul, S. Korea, at: