Gender, Race, and Apocalypse: Essays on Bird Box

deadline for submissions: 
April 1, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Brandon Grafius and Gregory Stevenson
contact email: 

The Netflix original film Bird Boxshattered records when it was released last December; according to industry reports, the film was streamed by over 45 million viewers in its first week. The film has become a cultural meme, with “Bird Box” challenges involving blindfolded participants trending on YouTube, and receiving a reference in a recent Saturday Night Live “Cold Open.”


This collection of essays will explore the cultural discussions which Bird Boxparticipates in through analyses of its treatment of race, gender, mental illness, spirituality, motherhood, and other issues. Suggested topics may include, but are not limited to:


  • The Apocalyptic Genre: How has the genre developed in the second decade of the 21stcentury, and how does Bird Boxparticipate in this trajectory? (The Walking DeadWorld War ZA Quiet Place)
  • How does this film relate to the traditional genre of the religious apocalypse? (the books of Daniel and Revelation, Left Behind)
  • Portrayals of Mental Illness: How do we understand the film’s relationship between mental illness and violence? (The Haunting of Hill HouseLights Out)
  • Maternal Instinct: How does the film situate Malorie (Sandra Bullock)’s maternal reluctance within the historical discourse of motherhood? (mother!InsideThe Monster)
  • The Numinous – How does Rudolf Otto’s theory of the numinous, or Edmund Burke’s theory of the sublime, help us understand the apocalyptic visitors of Bird Box? (The MistEvent HorizonSunshine)
  • Race/Gender (possibly more than one essay in each of these categories)
  • The Bird Box Challenge:Bird Boxas cultural meme, possibly in conversation with other horror films that have also had after- or pre-lives as internet memes (SlendermanThe Babadook)
  • The Business of Netflix and Horror: How has the streaming platform altered the way horror is consumed, and what are the possibilities for the future? (Black Mirror: Bandersnatch)


For consideration, please submit an abstract of 300-400 words to the editors, Brandon Grafius ( and Gregory Stevenson ( by April 1st. Completed essays of 5,000-6,000 words will be due 3 months after notification. The volume has been contracted by Lehigh University Press as part of the “Critical Conversations in Horror” series, contingent upon a positive peer review after completion.