Announcing Embodying Contagion: The Viropolitics of Horror and Desire in Contemporary Discourse (UWP 2021)

Now that the reviewer reports are back, I am pleased to officially announce the forthcoming publication of Embodying Contagion: The Viropolitics of Horror and Desire in Contemporary Discourse. Bringing scholarship from cultural and media studies into conversation with scholarship from the medical humanities and social sciences, this collection (edited by myself, Sandra Becker, and Sara Polak) aims to give readers a fuller picture of how we make sense of contagion in contemporary global culture.

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Testimonials from Online Teaching

Over the next few weeks the teaching team for the MA in Global Media Management will be sharing short testimonials on our blog, with some loose impressions and images of what it’s been like to teach online during the COVID-19 lockdown. These will appear every Wednesday and Friday—you can find mine below: “The last few … Read more

Call for Proposals: Neo-Victorian Decadence (Brill’s Neo-Victorian Series)

A new CfP has just come out, for a new entry in Brill’s Neo-Victorian book series. Details below: Contributions are invited for a collection of essays on the theme of Neo-Victorian Decadence planned to appear in Brill’s Neo-Victorian Series in 2022 (www.brill.com/nvic). The volume’s contents will be partly based on papers delivered at an international conference … Read more

‘Mobilities’ Study Visit to Somerset House

Every year the MA in Global Media Management that I teach on sponsors a series of events and talks around a chosen theme. This includes an annual study visit.

This year’s theme was ‘Mobilities’—in the broad sense, but specifically looking at the ways technology, location, embodiment, and identity inform people’s access to and relationship with the wider world. And shortly before the pandemic closures began we took a study visit to London.

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The Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition

There are many kinds of mashup fiction, some more derivative than others, and one of my favourite sets of transformative mashups has just made another appearance. The Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition has been running every year since 2018, and the deadline for this year’s competition is 4 June 2020.

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Unbound: Visionary Women Collecting Textiles

Over the last few weeks we’ve all had to come to terms with cancelled trips, gatherings, and celebrations. Many more plans will likely be cancelled over the coming weeks and months. For me the hardest thing hasn’t been the confinement. I’m a homebody anyway, and have grown comfortable with quiet and isolation. For me the hardest thing has been a lack of new stimulus and input. My way of coping with and processing the world involves a lot of wandering and observation, of looking at new things in new spaces, and using them to think about old things in new ways. Now that I live near London, the ever-changing parade of exhibitions and events on offer has been a welcome distraction and balm against the stresses of work and life.

Today I’m the feeling loss of this distraction acutely. As excellent as the internet and my home media library have been, entertainment you have to curate for yourself is never quite the same as entertainment curated for you by others! And it doesn’t offer the same magical feeling a ‘day out’ can grant you. Tate Britain’s Aubrey Beardsley exhibition, for instance, was something I’d been looking forward to for months. Another exhibition I’d been looking forward to was Two Temple Place’s Unbound: Visionary Women Collecting Textiles, which I had planned to visit at the end of March.

Happily, the latter has now started exploring various ways to take women’s textile collections online. The original exhibition set out to celebrate ‘seven pioneering women who saw beyond the purely functional, to reveal the extraordinary artistic, social and cultural importance of textiles’.

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The Anne Frank Video Diary

© 2020 Anne Frank Stichting, photography Ray van der Bas.

Many of us in Europe are now in our second or third weeks of self-isolation. The internet being the internet, some commentators on Twitter have started to compare their experiences in quarantine to those of Holocaust refugee Anne Frank, who spent just over two years (25 months) hiding with her family in a small annex in Amsterdam. How, they ask, did she survive all this time shut up indoors, without even the internet to keep her entertained?

One response to this rhetorical question is that she wrote. The published version of Anne Frank’s experiences, The Diary of a Young Girl (In Dutch: Het Achterhuis [The Annex]), is an international bestseller, and the house she hid in is now a popular museum and heritage centre. In 2019 the Anne Frank House saw over 1.3 million visitors, and it has been the 3rd most visited Dutch museum for years. Another, grimmer answer to the question is that she didn’t survive at all: Anne Frank died in Auschwitz in 1945.

Anne Frank’s experiences in the annex are obviously very far removed from our current situation. But the Anne Frank House’s newest production is certainly interestingly timed as a result. The Anne Frank Video Diary is a 15-episode YouTube series, and follows the last five months of Frank’s time in the annex. The spoken language is Dutch (the same language Frank used in her diary), but there are subtitles German, English, Portuguese, and Spanish.

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‘The Carrier Bag of Feminist Pedagogy: Zine-Making as Training in the Neoliberal University’

A few months back I wrote about a zine-related workshop I was involved in organising. Since that workshop, I have done more work on (and research into) zine practice. Today, that work has resulted in an academic article and Creative Practice piece, published together with Dr Mihaela Brebenel on the Open Access journal MAI: Feminism and Visual Culture. I’m very pleased to have our work up on this journal, and even more excited to be part of an excellent new special issue on ‘Feminist Pedagogies’. Check out the other pieces at this link!

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‘Hugely thought-provoking and enlightening’: review of Gothic Remixed on Sublime Horror

The first review for Gothic Remixed is out on the culture blog Sublime Horror, and I am very excited! In his review Daniel Pietersen suggests that we ‘live in a time of remixes […where] everything seems unpleasantly familiar’. He then explores how Gothic Remixed intervenes in these discussions, highlighting the book’s key arguments and concluding: Gothic … Read more

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels and the ‘opposite’ of Gothic

There’s a new Penny Dreadful series on the horizon! A departure from the original 2014–2016 series in terms of setting and tone (and casting with one or two exceptions), City of Angels will take place in 1930s Los Angeles. Despite our reservations about the ending of Penny Dreadful season 3, many of us working in horror and the gothic have been excited about this new sequel series for months. And last week the first teaser trailer dropped:

The YouTube trailer page describes City of Angels as a ‘spiritual descendant of the original Penny Dreadful story set in Victorian-era London’. And all in all it feels very Penny Dreadful. Strong female protagonist a la Vanessa Ives? Meet Natalie Dormer’s character Magda, this time literally a demon (not just possessed by one). On-the-nose metaphors about humanity’s ‘inner monsters’? Check: in the teaser Magda explains how ‘all mankind needs to become the monster he truly is, is being told he can’. Visually spectacular supernatural period drama? The sets are lush and colourful, despite the weird sepia filter that’s been thrown over the whole show. Magda gets not one, not two, but six fabulous costume changes in the teaser, two with hats that I need immediately. I’m also excited to see a few Penny Dreadful actors back in new roles—in particular Rory Kinnear, whose performances I found some of the most moving in the original series.

More of this please.

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