by Leah Richards and John R. Ziegler
[page 7] At Halloween of 2019, one of your editors expressed a desire to own a plague doctor mask; in January of 2020, they shared a meme (see right) y’all may remember on social media with a comment about the inevitability of needing a plague doctor mask, and Facebook suggested that perhaps that post should be shared as a life event.
Yes, 16 months of global pandemic was my fault—sorry—and Zuckerberg knew. But when life gives us pandemic lemons here at Supernatural Studies, we make a special cluster on contagion and the supernatural to celebrate, which you will find centered in this issue.
But first, the issue opens with Ka Yan Lam’s article on fin de siècle British writer Vernon Lee’s “Oke of Okehurst: The Phantom Lover,” a story of an artist, his ego, and how he represses memories, written by a woman who was much more talented than her character and made notable contributions to the field of aesthetics. This is followed by Matthew Jones’s discussion of 1970s/80s eco-horror films and how casting frogs, rats, alligators, and other animals as antagonistic to humans in these movies does not make them the antagonists of the story. These creature features foreground the ego of humans and the irreparable damage humans are doing to the planet. I have no idea what that was all about. We recycle, and giving up my Aqua Net hairspray in high school solved everything, and the weather is lovely this time of year.
But after reading Jones’s article, if you’re feeling a little anxious about the future, just ease right into our Contagion Cluster. Rhonda Knight considers infection as an evolutionary catalyst and the roles of both science and [page 8] humanism in the inversion of who the monsters are in Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend and M.R. Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts and its prequel. M.T. Bennett’s article on purported “causes” of vampirism explores the medicine vs. pseudoscience debate that we probably all engaged in online with some family member or person we went to high school with over the last year: not understanding science or trusting those who do has very real consequences. The Contagion Cluster ends with Octavia Cade’s exploration of Dracula as an infection narrative and how and why it seems to ignore medical and observational knowledge of inoculation and disease. The issue closes out with a selection of reviews of recently published books of interest to our readers.
We have a really exciting special issue coming up in Spring/ Summer on the work of Jordan Peele, edited by the amazing Dr. Chesya Burke. Follow @Superna81210483 on Twitter for calls for papers, information about upcoming issues, and generally creepy content.
As always, stay spooky, friends, and remember that vaccines don’t cause vampiris, but vampirism causes global pandemics. I think I got that right; I’m not a scientist, but I trust those who are. Get vaccinated!
Leah Richards, Ph.D.
John R. Ziegler, Ph.D.
MLA citation (print):
Richards, Leah, and John R. Ziegler. "Editors' Note." Supernatural Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Art, Media, and Culture, vol. 7, no. 1, 2021, pp. 7-8.