NeMLA 2022 Panel: Embodying Horror

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)

NeMLA 2022: Baltimore, Maryland. March 10-13

Panel: Embodying Horror

Film theorist Linda Williams has identified horror as one of the “body genres” - genres of film characterized by their effect on the body. The language that we use to talk about these films is embedded in our embodied experiences of them: they are spine-tingling, bone-chilling, full of jump scares. Over the last few years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of socially conscious horror films that foreground the body and intersectional embodied identities. In these films, bodies matter; when we watch them, we are invited to interrogate our own embodied response, as well as the bodies on the screen and those behind the camera.

In this session, we are interested in the relationship between horror and the body: the way that our body feels as we engage with these films, as well as the ways that bodies in these films are represented. What is the relationship between the bodies we see on the screen and the bodies that we live in? What is our experience of identification and empathy as we watch terror and violence unfold? How are the boundaries of bodies stressed and challenged through depictions of body horror and gore? How does casting certain bodies in certain roles affect our understanding of the story the film is telling, the meaning that we construct from it? How do horror films articulate, shape, or challenge gendered and racial narratives through the bodies they employ?

We invite abstracts that tackle the topic of the body and horror from a range of interdisciplinary positions, including phenomenological research, cognitive film theories, performance studies, critical race theories, feminist and queer studies, disability studies, and diaspora and migration studies. Abstracts should be no more than 300 words long.