Volume 6, Issue 2
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Editors' Note, by Leah Richards and John R. Ziegler (7-8)
Hauntings of the Hunted: Preying on Childhood in Classic Hunting Stories, by Jericho Williams (9-29)
Abstract: This essay explores the pivotal roles of horror and the supernatural in two classic hunting stories, William Faulkner’s The Bear (1942) and Wilson Rawls’s Where the Red Fern Grows (1961). Focusing on childhood hauntings, these works feature the pursuits of two notoriously elusive prey animals, a legendary bear named Old Ben and a raccoon known as the ghost coon. Faulkner and Rawls present atmospheres that blur the lines between natural and supernatural, facilitated by elements of rural hunting culture that impact childhood psychology, such as encounters with an unpredictable wilderness populated with prey animals with their own desires, the allure of hunting trophies or of maturation that depends upon hunting, and the nature and function of hunting stories. As a consequence of their pursuits of Old Ben and the ghost coon, protagonists Ike McCaslin and Billy Coleman remain forever changed, haunted by losses that impart the fragility of human and animal bodies and that also facilitate a greater appreciation of the natural world’s complexity.
Keywords: The Bear (1942), childhood, hunting stories, Where the Red Fern Grows (1961), William Faulkner, Wilson Rawls
Horrific ‘In-betweenness’: Spatial and Temporal Displacement and British Society in 1970s Children’s Supernatural Television, by Mark Fryers (30-58)
Abstract: The 1970s in Britain were a period marked by economic and industrial strife and a cultural emphasis on nostalgia. It was also a televisual “golden age” that was echoed in a rich seam of horror and supernatural television that was also reflected in an equally vibrant period for supernatural programming for children. These included the series The Changes, Sky, King of the Castle, The Georgian House, Shadows and Come Back Lucy, which consistently explored the fracturing and dislocation of time and space. Alongside these, children were constantly warned of the dangers of playing in the spaces of industry and agriculture by exposure to a series of Public Information Films broadcast on television that both traded on the representational paradigms of the horror film and which consequently imbricated the spaces of work and industry as potentially deadly. As this article will exemplify, a wider societal context of childhood fear was evoked on television that spoke to the attendant fear and uncertainty of the interstitial spaces between childhood and adolescence, adolescence and adulthood. This “horrific in-betweenness” explored so consistently on British screens speaks equally to the socio-cultural contexts of 1970s Britain, long established British childhood literary tropes as well as deeper anxieties surrounding the intractability of discrete parameters of childhood.
Keywords: British television culture, children’s horror and fantasy, horror and society, space and temporality in horror, supernatural television
“Towns that go bump in the night”: Haunted Urbanity and Ghostly Narratives in the UK, by Alexander Hay (59-83)
Abstract: Most if not all towns and cities in the UK have at least one haunted landmark, often several. Locations ranging from Southampton to York to Cardiff, for example, are host to a wide range of venues and locations, from industrial estates to haunted theatres, all said to be host to spectral presences of one sort or another. It is fair to say, then, that paranormal urban landscapes loom large in British culture and its urban experience. Given the sheer number of these occurrences, what does this reveal about how we relate to our towns and cities? Do our large number of haunted cities and towns reflect an ongoing narrative tradition in our popular culture, or do haunted sites instead reflect a sense of alienation and disillusionment with our surroundings, be it in the form of shuttered pubs, the London Underground, or the nondescript environs of a semi-detached house with its own poltergeist? Other areas of interest in this paper include how press coverage both reflects and disseminate urban ghost narratives, alongside the rise of housing inequalities and entrenched poverty that increasingly define British towns and cities. Whether these urban ghosts exist, of course, is another matter.
Keywords: city, ghosts, hauntings, homelessness, housing, media, news, town, urban
The Hesitation Principle in “The Rats in the Walls,” by Dennis Wilson Wise (84-99)
Abstract: Prior to 1926 when H. P. Lovecraft first published “The Call of Cthulhu,” his finest short story is generally considered to be “The Rats in the Walls.” Contradictory evidence, however, laces this short tale. Are Lovecraft’s eponymous rats supernatural entities, or are they simply the mad ravings of an unreliable narrator? Most commentators have preferred a realistic or naturalistic framework of explanation, but I argue that the rats’ ontological status remains inherently undecidable. Using Tzvetan Todorov’s theory of the fantastic as a starting point, this article suggests that when a reader hesitates over the rats’ reality, this hesitation raises questions about the shifting boundary between real and unreal, which in turn accentuates the precarity within what I have elsewhere called Lovecraft’s moment in the international weird.
Keywords: Henry James, H.P. Lovecraft, international weird, “The Rats in the Walls,” Tzvetan Todorov
2020 Supernatural Studies Conference Not-Proceedings (100-148)
We are excited to bring you the ghostly spectre of our third-annual conference, which would have happened in March at Iona College, New Rochelle, NY. New Rochelle was the epicenter of the pandemic in the greater New York City area, which at the time we thought would last maybe 6 weeks. Oh, the naivete of people who leave their homes every day!
Laura Kemmerer, content developer for the indie horror zine What Sleeps Beneath, was going to join us at the conference, so when the conference was canceled, we began discussing a collaboration, the journal’s part of which we present to you now. In addition to an outline of the day’s sessions, we bring you a selection of participant abstracts and a few full conference presentations, Olivia Zolciak’s discussion of mother-hood and The Babadook; Jeffrey Canino’s essay on Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s supernatural fantasies, which would have been the capstone to a panel featuring Canino’s under-graduate students also presenting on Gilman; and Antares Leask’s fantastic analysis of the Tennessee Wraith Chasers as a model of the classism that informs so much reality television. What Sleeps Beneath provided an additional platform for Q&As for readers to learn more about speakers and their work, in lieu of being present at the conference:
While this is not the same as our day of sessions and a keynote from Murray Leeder, University of Manitoba, on “The Cinematic Séance,” we hope that this collection gives our readers a sense of how great it would have been.
Book Reviews (149-177)
Choose PDF with all review from the print version or click on individual reviews for web versions
The Uncanny Child in Transnational Cinema: Ghosts of Futurity at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century, by Jessica Balanzategui, reviewed by Anna Mae Duane
Affective Intensities and Evolving Horror Forms: From Found Footage to Virtual Reality, by Adam Daniel, reviewed by Maledon Hoedt
B-Movie Gothic: International Perspectives, Justin D. Edwards and Johan Höglund, eds., reviewed by Naomi Simone Borwein
Bram Stoker and the Late Victorian World, Matthew Gibson and Sabine Lenore Müller, eds., reviewed by Jeanette Laredo
Subversive Spirits: The Female Ghost in British and American Popular Culture, by Robin Roberts, reviewed by Natalie Grove
Craving Supernatural Creatures: German Fairy-Tale Figures in American Pop Culture, by Claudia Schwabe, reviewed by David J. Puglia
Studying Horror Cinema, by Bryan Turnock, reviewed by Cary Elza
The Mad Scientist’s Guide to Composition: A Somewhat Cheeky but Exceedingly Useful Introduction to Academic Writing, by Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, reviewed by Aaron Pinnix