Visions of Excess: Class Politics, Fear, and the Representation of Surplus in Horror Cinema (Seminar)
55th NeMLA Annual Convention, March 7-10, 2024 in Boston, Massachusetts
Systems of excess: unsettling visions of the unwanted and grotesque, pushing the limits of our collective imaginary. This is the very texture of horror. For the last few years, the NeMLA convention has allowed our growing community of scholars to lay the foundation for a new trajectory of horror criticism —one that focuses on the class politics at play in horror cinema, as well as on potential materialist analyses of the genre and its spectatorship. The 2024 “Surplus” theme aligns with the theoretical landscape we have been exploring, adding a new level of specificity to the academic discourse we wish to collectively build.
With this new iteration of our seminar, we are thus excited to ask: How is the notion of ‘surplus’ applicable to the visions of excess that constellate horror cinema? Who profits from that excess, and from whom is that surplus extracted? Conversely: What does the scarcity of working-class representation signify for the political substratum of the horror genre, as a whole? And could fear, as an excessive emotion with little e(s)th(et)ic distance, be regarded as a potential entryway for dominant ideologies?
We look forward to receiving proposals that resonate with these questions, as well as with the following topics, including, but not limited to:
- The extraction of surplus value: capitalism as a vampiric/cannibalizing/parasitic entity;
- The politics of representation and spectatorship: class, gender, sexuality, race, dis/ability, etc.;
- The life (and afterlife) of objects under capitalism: production, distribution, (demonic) possessions;
- Surplus and the obscene;
- Surplus as waste: environmental and rural/ urban decay;
- Marxist and Neo-marxist analyses of the genre.
Please submit an abstract of 200 to 250 words describing your proposed seminar paper by September 30, 2023, at https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/20519. Accepted participants must submit a complete draft paper no later than February 1, 2024 to be shared with the collective before the conference. Papers should be between 10-15 pages, typed (12p) and double spaced, and include a “Works Cited” section. All participants are expected to read each other’s essays prior to the session and provide a one-paragraph response to one person as assigned by the chairs.