Child Abuse and the Supernatural (NeMLA 2014; Harrisburg, PA, 4/3-4/6)

full name / name of organization: 
Melissa Bobe / Rutgers University
contact email: 

This panel seeks to examine the way child abuse figures in narratives of the last century that use a supernatural frame and/or supernatural elements. A broad range of texts may be explored, from Henry James's The Turn of the Screw to Gore Verbinski's The Ring. What aspect of abusive environments does the supernatural represent? What might it obscure? Is the supernatural utilized by the child victim as a means by which to regain agency? Or does it result in further objectification? This panel seeks papers that will consider how the abused child functions within a supernatural frame, bearing in mind questions of space, autonomy, and boundaries in regards to both child subject and supernatural element/environment. Please send 300-word abstracts to Melissa Bobe at by September 30, 2013.

Topics explored may include (but are not limited to):

the supernatural and gender/sexuality
ghosts and haunting
psychic children/child mediums
Gothic children
violence and trauma
alien encounters/abductions
supernatural siblings/twins
fairytale revisions and abuse narratives
child abandonment
the supernatural and children's literature
adopted children
children and occult families
imaginary friends
loss/mourning and the supernatural
the vengeful child