Editors' Note and Introduction

by Leah Richards and John R. Ziegler

Note: Page numbers from the print version are indicated in brackets and should not be considered part of the text of the article.

[page 7] Welcome to the Summer 2017 issue of Supernatural Studies. The essays assembled in this issue range widely in focus but share a common interest in the intersection of supernatural representations and prescribed norms, including cultural, sexual, generic, and academic.

In “‘Keeping the Past Present’: Time and the Shifting Bog in Bram Stoker’s The Snake’s Pass,” Nancy Marck Cantwell delves into the relationship among cultural memory, national identity, and conceptions of time in Stoker’s Irish-set novel. Next come a quartet of articles that address intersections of female characters, monstrosity, and culture in contexts ranging from contemporary film culture to medieval manuscript culture. Derek M. Dubois, in “A Supernatural Spectacle: Film Style within the Prologue of Black Swan,” examines how Darren Aronofsky uses the formal elements of art cinema to construct the protagonist, ballerina Nina, in relation to her monstrous double in the opening of his psychological thriller. Stephanie Gallon stakes out a position the expansive feminist debate surrounding Stephenie Meyer’s vampire novels in “The girlie wolf--good for nothing: Twilight and the Anti-Feminist She-Wolf.” Rather than the bloodsucking undead, Gallon focuses on the series’ Quileute werewolf pack, in order to unpack Meyer’s presentation of its sole female member. Brittany Caroline Speller’s “Cultural Human Sacrifice in Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street Films” turns to another supernatural saga, arguing that the first and third films in the series featuring Freddy Krueger present symbolic human sacrifices to the conservative cultural mores of the 1980s, displays that are inextricably connected to sexual conventions and the figure of the “final girl.” The cultural conventions foregrounded in “Damsels, Dragons, and Death-girls: Married and Foreign Women in The Book of John Mandeville,” by Elizabeth Light, are those of the European middle ages; Light details how, in this influential piece of invented travel writing, unmarried foreign women are rendered as literal monsters in opposition to married women, who attain value through performances of their marital status. The issue concludes with the [page 8] big-picture questions posed by Elizabeth Lowry in “Academia, Relativism, and the ‘Supernatural’: What is True, What is Real, and What is Reasonable?,” in which she interrogates the utility of applying the academy’s rationalist definition of critical inquiry to truth claims regarding the paranormal.

Looking forward, we are excited to share new developments with our readership. First, with the current issue, Supernatural Studies moves to a new publication model. In keeping with our belief that information should be free and freely accessible, and to extend the reach of the excellent work of our contributors, each issue of the journal will first be published in print and then, after a short embargo period, be made available in open-access electronic form on our website, www.supernaturalstudies.com and indexed. Material from issues prior to 4.1 will also be made available in open-access form as authors’ permission is secured.

Second, the Supernatural Studies Association will hold its first annual conference in the spring of 2018. The event will be hosted by Bronx Community College on its historic campus in the Bronx, NY. Look for more details soon!

In addition, the journal will be publishing two upcoming special issues. The Fall/Winter 2017 issue, guest edited by Bethany Holmstrom, will focus on the enormously popular television series Black Mirror, and the Fall/Winter 2018 issue, guest edited by Franck Boulègue, will focus on surrealist touchstone Twin Peaks, which has recently reentered the contemporary pop-culture conversation with its revival on Showtime. See our website for full details and deadlines.

As the above may suggest, we have expanded the scope of “the supernatural”: as Richard A. Lupoff’s detective Akhenaten Beelzebub Chase pompously mansplains to his much smarter companion, Dr. Claire Delacroix, “The natural universe encompasses all objects and events. If a thing has occurred, it is [page 9] necessarily not supernatural. If it is supernatural, it cannot occur.”[1] That is, the supernatural is that which falls outside the realm of human experience, that which is extraordinary, above and beyond what is deemed “natural,” and this includes our imagined technical near-future and worlds outside of our own. While we will continue to embrace the eerie, the uncanny, and the weird, we are explicitly engaging with these affects in the speculative as well as in what is traditionally perceived as supernatural.

As always, stay spooky, our friends!

Leah Richards, Ph.D.

John R. Ziegler, Ph.D.

Executive Co-Editors

[1] Richard A. Lupoff, “The Second Drug,” The Mammoth Book of Locked Room Mysteries and Impossible Crimes, edited by Mike Ashley. Kindle ed., Constable & Robinson Ltd., 2000.

MLA citation (print):

Richards, Leah, and John R. Ziegler. "Editors' Note and Introduction." Supernatural Studies, vol. 4, no. 1, 2017, pp. 7-9.