Monstrous Words: Writing and Incoherence (27 July 2022)

If you enjoyed the last two workshops from the Creative Posthumanism project, or if you wanted to attend but couldn’t make it, we’d like to welcome you to our third and final event of the summer, ‘Monstrous Words: Writing and Incoherence’ (Wednesday 27 July 2022, 2-4pm BST)

Join artist Rebecca Jagoe in a play with language and writing incoherence. Incoherence can be expressed in writing on many levels, for instance in terms of narrative, in the sense of neologisms (for instance in the different spellings of Middle English), or in the transcription of nonverbal sound into roman or other characters. We will think together about how a language deficit or specific forms of speech have been used to deny access to the category of the human. This means we will also be writing in defiance of the idea of rationality and knowability—not only of subjects, but of the ability of language to catalogue and define them. We will work towards what Erin Manning (2020) calls a pragmatics of the useless; ‘the way the work’s work eludes us, escapes us, the way it delays the affirmation of its tenuous apparition, the way it touches us, in the lag’ (p. 15).

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WAKE ISLAND podcast on Monster Mashups and Frankenfictions

Looking for a listen that’s spooky but casual, a slow burn for your morning commute? Then you might be interested in the newest episode from WAKE ISLAND, a bi-weekly podcast hosted by Paul K and David Leo Rice. In it, we have a lovely and wide-ranging chat about the public domain as both an unmarked grave and as a place of rebirth, the tentacular, mashups/remix studies, Twilight, and our current undead state.

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Scrapbooking the Wasteland—A Posthumanist Terror Management Theory Toolkit

Are you interested in critical posthumanism and the creative arts? Did you see images from our zine-making workshop and wish you’d been able to join us? Now is your chance! Our next Creative Posthumanism workshop will be on Wednesday, 1st June 2022, from 2-4pm at Winchester School of Art. This week, our theme (and the focus of our collaborative making project) is ‘Scrapbooking the Wasteland—A Posthumanist Terror Management Theory Toolkit’.

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Do the Monster Mash: Universal’s “Classic Monsters” and the Industrialization of the Gothic Transmedia Franchise

Almost two years after I announced I was writing it, my chapter in Gothic Mash-Ups: Hybridity, Appropriation, and Intertextuality in Gothic Storytelling is now out with Rowman & Littlefield (EU) / Lexington Books (USA)!

My chapter, ‘Do the Monster Mash: Universal’s “Classic Monsters” and the Industrialization of the Gothic Transmedia Franchise’, takes the Universal Monsters as a prime case of early Gothic transmedia and mashup, as well as highlighting the importance of unoriginality to Gothic storytelling more broadly.

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Monster Theory 2.0: Remix, the Digital Humanities, and the Limits of Transgression

‘Is remix a monster, and digital humanities the means through which it is destined to bring down the old-fashioned, exclusionary, and hierarchical modes of humanities past?’

This is the question I ask at the beginning of my chapter in the new Routledge Handbook of Remix Studies and Digital Humanities, edited by Eduardo Navas, Owen Gallagher, and xtine burrough, and the answer is not as simple as it may seem. There are lots of great chapters in the book, divided into sections on ‘Epistemology and Theory’, ‘Accessibility and Pedagogy’, ‘Modularity and Ontology’, and ‘Aurality and Visuality’. My own chapter, on ‘Remix, the Digital Humanities, and the Limits of Transgression’, uses the metaphor of Frankenstein and his creature to suggest that the transgressive potential of remix and the digital humanities lies less in the form of these disciplines, and more in their practice: How they are allowed to intersect, evolve, and escape their traditional (anti)humanist foundations.

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Posthumanist Transmedia: David Blandy’s The World After (2019)

Cover of Transmedia Cultures published 2021This week my author copy of Transmedia Cultures arrived! It contains a series of “fresh” approaches to transmedia, “revealing the ever-increasing levels of entanglement they have within our real lives and with those we experience in other more imaginative or creative ones, bringing into focus exactly what is at stake in the «worlds» we choose to call our own”

My own contribution is a short chapter that frames David Blandy’s The World After (2019) and/as posthumanist transmedia. It follows on from an artist talk and a workshop I did with Blandy last year.

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Embodying Contagion Now in Paperback and Open Access

Embodying Contagion: The Viropolitics of Horror and Desire in Contemporary Discourse is now available to own in paperback, and to read for free in Gold Open Access!

From Outbreak to The Walking Dead, apocalyptic narratives of infection, contagion and global pandemic are an inescapable part of twenty-first-century popular culture. Yet these fears and fantasies are too virulent to be simply quarantined within fictional texts. The vocabulary and metaphors of outbreak narratives have permeated how news media, policymakers and the general public view the real world and the people within it. In an age where fact and fiction seem increasingly difficult to separate, contagious bodies (and the discourses that contain them) continually blur established boundaries between real and unreal, legitimacy and frivolity, science and the supernatural. Where previous scholarly work has examined the spread of epidemic realities in horror fiction, the essays in this collection also consider how epidemic fantasies and fears influence reality. Initiating dialogue between scholarship from cultural and media studies, and scholarship from the medical humanities and social sciences, this collection gives readers a fuller picture of the viropolitics of contagious bodies in contemporary global culture.

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Gothic Remixed Now in Paperback

At long last my first book, Gothic Remixed: Monster Mashups and Frankenfictions in 21st-Century Culture, is available in paperback from Bloomsbury!

The bestselling genre of Frankenfiction sees classic literature turned into commercial narratives invaded by zombies, vampires, werewolves, and other fantastical monsters. Too engaged with tradition for some and not traditional enough for others, these ‘monster mashups’ are often criticized as a sign of the artistic and moral degeneration of contemporary culture. These hybrid creations are the ‘monsters’ of our age, lurking at the limits of responsible consumption and acceptable appropriation.

Featuring 23 black-and-white illustrations, this book explores the boundaries and connections between contemporary remix and related modes, including adaptation, parody, the Gothic, Romanticism, and postmodernism. Taking a multimedia approach, case studies range from novels like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club series, to television programmes such as Penny Dreadful, to popular visual artworks like Kevin J. Weir’s Flux Machine GIFs. In Gothic Remixed, I use these monstrous works to show how the thrill of transgression has been contained within safe and familiar formats, resulting in the mashups that dominate Western popular culture.

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Ask the Expert ‘Tea Talks’ Episode 6: Monsters and the Posthuman

They're there for their afternoon tea mug featured in video
The mug featured in said episode.

The University of Southampton has just launched a new series of Ask The Expert videos, called ‘Tea Talks’. These 20-to-30-minute videos feature Belinda Milestone, Teaching Fellow in the university’s Academic Centre for International Studies, as she interviews staff from WSA about their lives, careers, teaching, areas of specialism—and, of course, favourite cups of tea.

In the most recent episode I talk to Belinda about remix, monsters, and the posthuman over a cup of Chinese white tea:

You can watch the entire first season (six interviews) on YouTube. It includes discussions about festivals, advertising, luxury, fashion and sustainability, and more. Season two will hopefully be on the way very soon.

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The Monster Mash: Remix Horror from the Magic Lantern to the Small Screen (13 April 2021)

A few weeks ago I posted about the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies spring 2021 lineup of classes. This week I’m excited to share more information about my own contribution to this series. Join me and Miskatonic London on Zoom, 13 April (7pm UK time, tickets £8) to talk about remix and appropriative horror, from magic lantern to monster mash to meme. At the event we’ll also be celebrating the paperback launch of Gothic Remixed. 

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