I’ll Sleep When I’m Undead: Sleep in Contemporary Horror Media

deadline for submissions: 
March 31, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
CORERISC / The Sociability of Sleep
contact email: 

                                                                            CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS

                                         I’ll Sleep When I’m Undead: Sleep in Contemporary Horror Media 

                                                                           July 2-7, 2023 in Montreal

                                                                          DEADLINE: March 31, 2023


CORERISC: the Collective for Research on Epistemologies of Embodied Risk, and The Sociability of Sleep seek participants for a week-long writing workshop (July 2-7, 2023) centered on sleep in 21st century horror media. We aim to explore how horror media–from films to television to social media–responds to the conditions of sleep as a site of embodied risk today. 


Sleep today is said to be in crisis. Sleep is under threat by our 24/7 (Crary 2013) lifestyles; by demands of availability generated by social media, the internet and the always-on of media themselves; by the blue light of media screens, and the somatic reset of social media addictions; and by the crisis cycle of the contemporary news media. Sleep scientists are increasingly attending to longstanding inequities of access to “good sleep”, unevenly distributed across the fracture lines of social inclusion, and reflecting the environmental and cultural impact of insecure sleep conditions, including excess noise and illumination, rising temperatures under climate change, vulnerability to assault, an increasing demands to be available for work or care. These and other anxieties around sleep as a site of embodied risk are found across the spectrum of 21st century horror media.

Beyond dreams and nightmares, sleep itself has a complex history in horror media, in the remix of cinemas as a dream machine to a rich visual and aural language for altered states that blur the line between waking life and nightmare. While our focus is on 21st century media, we also seek work that puts today’s bad sleepers in dialogue with the past of sleep-horror media. Our premise is this: sleep is in essence a risky business. Sleep is often seen as generating precarious situations, and sleep itself is understood as a site of risk, vulnerability, and loss of control and agency. Sleep’s horror affects enervate the sharp edges of conventional horror, its eruptive distinctions between normal and deviant, raising complex questions of creepy agency, resistance, dispossession and vulnerability. Horror sleep media explores rest as a space of work, the site of the relentless extraction of the body’s capacities and biopolitical management, through monitoring and modulation, or in other cases the only territory in which the complexities and dangers of life today can be navigated as a new site of survival. Rather than naming a novel state of affairs, feminist, queer, and racialized sleep horror understands sleep not as a break in the fabric of reality that allows a horrific otherworldliness to emerge, but as the condition of the exhausting conditions of everyday life. Part of the horror in the contemporary wave of sleep horror media is that the waking/ dreaming binary is displaced by the grey zone of somatic capitalism, where even off-hours are occupied by apps that track, quantify and assess us while we sleep, for purposes not our own. How does 21st century media figure the dispossessive risks of sleep?

This weeklong writing workshop is a collaboration between the Sociability of Sleep interdisciplinary research-creation project and CORÉRISC as part of the series "Altered States: The Social Lives of Sleep". We seek four to five participants for a week-long writing workshop in Montreal in the context of the Sociability of Sleep’s summer exhibition InSomnolence (June 20-July 13, 2023). Participants will arrive on Sunday. Monday through Friday will be dedicated to collaborative and individual writing sessions, working towards the publication of an edited collection. As such, we plan to work both with individual chapters, and also to collectively shape the conversation about sleep in contemporary horror. Each day will include two short public talks from participants about their emergent research in sleep horror along with writing workshops and end-of-day check-ins. In keeping with the spirit of the workshop as a generative space, the week’s events will include several activities meant to inspire discussion. The Montreal Monstrum Society will co-host a public screening of a sleep horror film; participants will be encouraged to suggest material to screen and discuss; there will be a workshop on public scholarship on popular media; and there is the possibility of creating a podcast focusing on the sleep media that we watch and discuss together. 

We seek proposals from workshop participants on topics such as:


  • Sleep and Genre (horror, noir, fantastique, dark fantasy)

  • Sleep and Media (cinema, television, short-form, social media)

  • Poetics of Sleep Horror (form, tone, atmosphere, style, mode)

  • Horror studies and sleep

  • Sleep and Experimental Horror

  • Sleep Horror as/and Ecology

  • Sleep Horror and Technology 

  • Sleep Horror and Creep (climate creep, deep/geological time, scale)

  • Somnolent affects: sleep and spectators

  • (Sleep) media as a source of horror and risk

  • Too much, too little: sleep out of scale

  • Earlids and Eyelids: The Bleed of Sleep

  • Sleep Horror and Crisis, Disruption, Disorder

  • Lost sleep: insomnia and other absences  (as awareness, as problematic/symptom)

  • Sleep Horror and Labour

  • Retrovision: 21st century sleep horror frameworks recalling earlier media forms

  • Sleep and/in Horror Studies (concept, content, figuration)

Proposals should include:

  • a one-page description of your potential chapter: topic, approach and media  (300-400 words)

  • a short bio (150 words)

We welcome submissions from emerging scholars and contingent faculty, as well as from researchers from underrepresented perspectives in horror studies. There is funding available to support the participation of scholars, prioritizing those without access to institutional support. The workshop will take place in person in Montreal. If for you, travel to Montreal is not a possibility but you wish to take part in the entire workshop, please indicate this in your application and we will find accommodation for remote participation. 

Proposals can be sent to corerisc@gmail.com, with the subject line “Undead Sleep Submissions”. Deadline is March 31, 2023.  “I’ll Sleep When I’m Undead” is organized by CORÉRISC members Lynn Kozak, Alanna Thain and Kristopher Woofter, in collaboration with The Sociability of Sleep and is part of “Altered States: The Social Lives of Sleep”, with support from the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et culture and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.