[page 7] Welcome to the Summer 2018 issue of Supernatural Studies. Articles in this issue engage with a wide range of texts read through a variety of critical lenses, but one thing that we saw while putting the issue together is how very timely they all are. Perhaps this is because the real world is so surreal and so scary right now; all we can say is that the humanities are more wildly important than ever.
We begin with Luka Bekavac’s Derridean analysis of instrumental transcommunication, the intersection of technology and an afterlife. From that techno-spiritualist moment, we move to fiction’s engagement with folklore and the natural world: Kirk R. Swenson’s consideration of Algernon Blackwood’s “The Wendigo” looks at how the Native American myth was reworked to reflect contemporary anxieties about masculinity, while Kirsten Møllegaard distinguishes between folklore and the folkloresque in two comics series, Lumberjanes and The Good Neighbors, that foreground female characters as they navigate the supernatural found in nature. Nature becomes all the more malevolent in Jim Coby’s ecocritical and postcolonial consideration of Scott Smith’s The Ruins, wherein the eventual but inevitable extinction of humanity is performed on a smaller scale, accelerated by nature at its most aggressive. Plant-like entities remain aggressive in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers franchise, but have nothing on the masculine behaviors that aid and abet the alien pods in their takeover as male characters refuse to listen to women; Julie Hugonny draws parallels between these works and the macro- and microaggressions toward women that have recently culminated in the #metoo movement. Whitney S. May reads Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and the tensions that exist in a divided self as reflections—literally—of the fin de siècle, and Joseph Walderzak’s consideration of the new turn-of-the-century divided selves, the Leda Clones of Orphan Black, and the ways in which the feminine can be performed closes out the issue. As we sit in the Supernatural Studies office in the midst of a climate-change enhanced sweltering summer and keeping up with the news, these articles were, if not comforting, certainly illuminating. [page 8]
This spring, the Supernatural Studies Association hosted our Inaugural Conference at Bronx Community College, City University of New York. The whole event was fantastic, with presentations on topics ranging from nineteenth-century realist fiction to contemporary video games, from reading the gothic to teaching the uncanny, from silent films to the latest contributions to the zombie corpus, the last of which was also the subject of the keynote talk delivered by Dr. Kim Paffenroth from Iona College. It was an international conference, with contributors coming from Canada and Japan as well as from the Atlantic coast, upstate New York, and the city’s other boroughs, and participants included undergraduates and independent scholars as well as graduate students and faculty. Something that made the day special, beyond the conversations surrounding the more traditional academic panels, was the incorporation of creative works: playwrights, poets, and fiction writers shared their work and reflections on their processes throughout the day. By the lunch break, we were already starting to plan next spring’s conference—keep an eye on our website, our Facebook page, and academic networks for details and the Call for Papers!
Back issues of Supernatural Studies are now (mostly) available on our website, with this and future issues to be posted after a very brief print embargo period. To extend the reach of the work of our contributors, we are in the process of having materials indexed for inclusion in the MLA International Bibliography; while the MLA database itself is behind a paywall, the articles will remain open-access and we are also working on indexing through Google Scholar.
On the horizon, we have our Winter 2018 issue, guest edited by Franck Boulègue, which will focus on Twin Peaks, the series, the reboot, and the phenomenon. The next general issue, Summer 2019, is already starting to come together as well.
As always, stay spooky, our friends!
Leah Richards, Ph.D.
John R. Ziegler, Ph.D.