Suspirias: Covering Trauma, Memory and the Body

deadline for submissions: 
February 7, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Queen Mary University of London

Suspirias: Covering Trauma, Memory and the Body

Queen Mary, University of London, 11th June 2022
Co-organisers: Archie Wolfman and Alice Pember

This symposium considers Dario Argento’s 1977 giallo horror Suspiria alongside Luca Guadagnino’s 2018 film of the same name.


The 2018 film has been positioned in a cycle of ‘serious’ horror films, an arthouse spin on Argento’s original cult classic that solicits more complex philosophical engagement with trauma, memory and the body that its gory predecessor. Praised in some quarters for its ‘elevation’ of the original’s sparse thematics, Guadagnino’s ‘cover version’ was also criticised for heavy handedly shoehorning in complex historical allusions to the ‘German Autumn’ of 1977 in its pursuit of prestige horror credentials.


This symposium will explore the ways in which Guadagnino’s film, in dialogue with Argento’s original, can (or perhaps cannot) be taken seriously. It will ask whether the film’s narrative references to the Red Army Faction, Lufthansa 181 hijacking, or Theresienstadt concentration camp are superficial details designed to elevate the film’s ‘art house’ credentials, or important allusions that highlight a more complex, formal negotiation of Germany’s traumatic past. Crucial to these considerations is the film’s use of music, sound design, dance and body horror, filmic elements which invite affective, or haptic, readings that consider the specificity of the film’s mediation of history and memory.


In light of these debates, we welcome proposals for papers of 15 minutes from postgraduate researchers, early career academics and established scholars that engage with questions of trauma, memory and the body in light of ways in which Suspiria (1977) and Suspiria (2018) negotiate both cinematic and lived history. Papers may analyse either or both versions of Suspiria. Approaches to the film(s) might include, but are not limited to:


-          Music and sound in cinema

-          Dance and film

-          Holocaust studies

-          Trauma and memory

-          The body and the body politic

-          Horror genre studies

-          Witches on screen

-          Affect, haptics and film-phenomenology

-          Performance and stardom

-          Feminist approaches

-          Comparative studies with Argento’s Suspiria

-          Intertextuality or the metacinematic in ‘the age of the remake’


Please send your abstract (250 words), along with a 50 word bio, to Archie Wolfman and Alice Pember at by 7 February 2022. We encourage postgraduate students and early career researchers to submit an abstract.