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International Summer School for Postgraduate Students and Postdoctoral Researchers
“Representations of Horror in Contemporary Media and Culture”
August 4-10, 2013 in Munich, Germany.
It was one of the central concerns of the age of Enlightenment to expel all sorts of spectres, monsters, and vampires from our conception of reality. But the present boom of horror figures in various media conveys the impression that despite the long-lasting historical changes resulting from that rationalistic era, these seemingly irrational phenomena have not disappeared. Quite the contrary: in current times of dramatic political crises, profound cultural changes, and ground-breaking scientific revolutions, terrifying beings and uncanny forces continue to haunt us in ever-changing forms.
Evidently, ghostly issues, hauntings, and horrors are of interdisciplinary concern, highly inspiring objects for both rational thought and aesthetic imagination. But the central role they play in contemporary media and culture raises numerous questions and evokes different interpretations. Could it be interpreted as a symptomatic expression of the current situation of growing economic and political instability, and thus be compared to other troubled times like the Weimar Republic or the Cold War? Is it a way to re-open a society’s guilt-ridden historical past and attempt to deal with its traumas? Or should one regard it as an indispensable preparation for future extreme conditions - provoked perhaps by natural disasters, genetic engineering, or new military technologies - that can best be achieved by imagining every horror scenario possible?
Recent research in the field mainly focuses on the fact that figures of horror are summoned and exorcised in the shape of narratives, be it in the texts of literature, in the plots of films, or even in performances live on stage. The study of these phenomena therefore seeks to examine how horror manifests itself in different textual and visual media and to scrutinise
the structural potentials and limits of these manifold representations. In doing so, the present reappearance of figures of horror can be closely linked to contemporary medial and cultural evolutions that open the door to new embodiments of fear and dread.
The summer school will benefit from these new perspectives by concentrating on three thematic sections revolving around the currently most prominent and popular representations of horror: the spectral, the monstrous, and the vampiric.
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