Words to That Effect: Mashups, Remixes, and Frankenfiction

Words to That Effect Ep 45: Mashups, Remixes, and FrankenfictionAre you a fan of podcasts, or popular fiction? If so, you might enjoy this 30-minute episode of Words to That Effect I contributed to, on ‘Mashups, Remixes, and Frankenfiction’. Come for the opening remix, stay for the zombies—teaser below:

In one sense, all culture is a remix, nothing exists in a vacuum. On the other hand, some people may take a dim view of lifting almost the entire text of Pride & Prejudice and republishing it with additional zombie action. Which is where Seth Grahame-Smith’s best-selling 2009 classic, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, comes in.

In this episode I talk to Dr Megen de Bruin-Molé about mashup novels, or what she calls ‘Frankenfiction’: commercial fiction that takes out of copyright texts from the 18th and 19th centuries, and reworks them into something new. We chat about everything from the best (and worst) Frankenfictions, to the history of the mashup, to the power of adaptation and remix to subvert and parody the great works of literature and our own contemporary culture.

Read more

Darkly by Leila Taylor: A Gothic Love Letter to America

I’ve been sitting on this review of Leila Taylor’s Darkly: Black History and America’s Gothic Soul for almost a year. It’s not difficult to summarise my feelings—Darkly is a brilliant book. I’ve mainly been unsure how to do it proper justice. Darkly is everything I love about the Gothic as a mode: it contains multitudes. As Taylor writes, ‘Goth alone is too big, too broad’ (20) to capture, and likewise ‘Black contains multitudes…literally. As a pigment it is all colors at once, but black is also the complete absence of all light. Black is […]everything and nothing at the same time’ (83). There are many ways to be a Goth, and to be a Black Goth.

Read more

Dead on Arrival (A Spoiler-Free Review of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels)

Netflix’s viewer data famously indicates that it takes an average of three episodes to become hooked on a new series. Having now watched four episodes of Sky/Showtime’s Penny Dreadful: City of Angels I can safely say that, for me, John Logan’s newest series is dead on arrival.

Read more

Embodying Contagion Coming April 2021 in Open Access

Back in May I wrote that I was working on the final manuscript for an edited collection called Embodying Contagion, co-edited with Sandra Becker and Sara Polak. Now, I am excited to announce that the collection is available for preorder with University of Wales Press, and will be coming to a bookstore or library near you in April 2021. The book will be released in paperback (retailing at £45), but most importantly it will also be coming out in Open Access, thanks to a generous grant from the Dutch NWO Domain Social Sciences and Humanities.

Read more

Crisis in Contemporary Writing (BACLS Virtual Conference, 26 June 2020)

There is still time to register for the British Association of Contemporary Literary Studies’ first virtual conference, on ‘Crisis in Contemporary Writing’—free access to this event closes on Monday 22nd June.

The conference will open with a roundtable discussion of contemporary crisis. It will then feature live online discussions of pre-circulated papers, readings, and videos (most already available via the BACLS website) on contamination and contagion, economic, cultural, and social crises, as well as relationships to technology and between the human and the non-human. I will be presenting in Panel 2: Human – Non-human, with a discussion of ‘mindful’ consumption and the rehabilitation of the zombie in twenty-first-century popular culture. Using the metaphor of mindfulness and the mindful consumer, I suggest that rather than dehumanising the other outside of the community, in these narratives the horror is directed inward, to the twin monsters of modernity that cannot be escaped, destroyed, or ignored, and must be embraced and ethically managed: capitalism and consumerism. This work is related to what I have been writing for the forthcoming edited collection Embodying Contagion (UWP 2021).

Read more

Artist Talk with David Blandy (16 June 2020)

How to Fly (2020)

On Tuesday, 16 June 2020 I’ll be talking with British artist David Blandy about his newest work, two specially commissioned videos (How to Fly and How to Live). This online event is hosted by Southampton’s John Hansard Gallery, and I’ll be joined by Jussi Parikka, who is leading and moderating the discussion.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

‘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.

Read more