CFP: Special guest-edited issue on Black Horror

A recent New York Times article declared black horror America’s “most powerful cinematic genre.” Likewise, critical attention to the genre is evidenced by the work of Robin Means Coleman in her book Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to the Present (2011) and in the documentary film of the same name, Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (2019), directed by Xavier Burgin. Since Jordan Peele’s 2017 groundbreaking film Get Out, which was the first black horror movie to be nominated for an Oscar, there has been an explosion of popular texts that could be understood as black horror. From Them to Lovecraft Country to the Candyman reboot, the genre of black horror is flourishing, yet arguably themes of horror have characterized the black literary and representational traditions for decades. This special edition will feature essays that examine new and historical depictions of black horror in texts by (or performed by) black authors and casts. Some of the questions the essays included could consider are:

  • How might we historicize black horror in a way that reveals what is at stake, politically, socially, and representationally, in these texts? 
  • What generative intersections are implicated in black horror around gender, race, sexuality, class, citizenship, and ability?
  • How might we explain the current emphasis on the horrific in black texts and what relationship might black horror bear to theoretical movements like Afropessimism? 
  • What relationship do the tropes of black horror bear to Afrosurrealism and Afrofuturism? 
  • In what ways (if at all) does black horror anesthetize fear differently than mainstream horror stories? 
  • How and why does the genre of horror lend itself to deeper examinations of slavery and its afterlife? 
  • How does black horror operate as an alternate modality for a telling of American histories? 
  • In what ways does black horror actualize different futurities and deploy various temporal realities to reimagine current and historic socio-cultural relationships? 
  • How do audiences matter in the production, reception, and understanding of black horror?   

Essays for this volume will reflect on these questions and others, while analyzing the most impactful and important black horror texts produced in the 20th and early 21st century. Contributors could talk about any black horror text broadly read, inclusive of but not limited to, slave narrativesdystopias, and the works of Jordan Peele, Victor LaValle and others. Comparative analyses of film adaptations of novels, as well as similarly situated texts (e.g., Us/ThemKindred/AntebellumBeloved/Grievers, etc.) are encouraged.

Please submit a one page abstract and CV to sofblackhorroredition@gmail.com by August 15th. Full papers will be due by October 31, 2022. 

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Editor biographies

Durell M. Callier is Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at Miami University. His research documents, analyzes, and interrogates the lived experience of Black youth and the racialized queer dynamics of power within educative spaces and practices.  He is co-author of, Who look at me?!: Shifting the Gaze of Education Through Blackness, Queerness, and the Body (Brill, 2019), as well as Performative Intergenerational Dialogues of a Black Quartet: Qualitative Inquiries on Race, Gender, Sexualities, and Culture (Routledge, 2022). His scholarship has been featured in journals such as American QuarterlyCurriculum InquiryCultural Studies  Critical MethodologiesText & Performance Quarterly, and Theatre Topics. An artist-scholar, he is co-founder of Hill L. Waters, a Black queer feminist arts-based collective and experimental research space. Currently, he is working on two book projects, including a celebration and remembrance of Black queer life through a series of collages and embodied performances.

Stefanie K. Dunning is Professor of English at Miami University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Riverside; she is a graduate of Spelman College and a Ford Foundation Fellow. Her first book, Queer in Black and White: Interraciality, Same-Sex Desire, and Contemporary African American Culture, from Indiana University Press, was published in 2009. Her latest project, Black to Nature: Pastoral Return and African American Culture from the University Press of Mississippi was published in April 2021. In addition to her published books, she has been published in African American Review, MELUS, Studies in the Fantastic, and other journals and anthologies. She also has a podcast, called Black to Nature: the podcast, available for listening on all major platforms.