Editors: Neil McRobert, Rebecca Duncan and Shannon Rollins
This edited collection will explore and interrogate the Internet as a new, crucial medium for the culture of terror. The ‘web’ is an anarchic zone in which new possibilities for the curation and performance of identity coincide with an advancing hyperconnectivity and the acceleration of informational transactions. In what ways, we are asking, has all of this been instrumental in the proliferation of an online Gothic culture? Despite the emancipating potential of web 2.0, new media platforms reiterate and redeploy essential Gothic states of uncertainty, disorientation and obscurity, generating equally new networks of unease. The apparently affirmative possibilities of the networked world – a heightened access to knowledge, the capacity to manufacture and control avatars of selfhood – also give way to fears about the extent to which the user not only navigates and manipulates the web, but is also caught up in its tissues, controlled by nets which are never fully knowable, the potentials of which can never be entirely transparent, or entirely predictable.
Alongside this conceptual sense of the internet as a site of unease and disorientation, there is a discernible online macabre: websites that advocate anorexia, suicide and even cannibalism; the increasingly mainstream appropriation of violent sexual proclivities; the proliferation of horror memes (Slenderman etc); uncanny relationships with death and mourning fuelled by the spectral functions of social media. Such Gothic manifestations capitalise upon the Internet’s potential for unrestricted excess.
If Gothic as a mode of fearful cultural production consists in the ambivalent interplay of knowledge and unknowledge, control and uncontrol, then has it found its apotheosis in the online environment? What anxieties have emerged as the web has expanded its reach to an ostensibly global extent? How is the online environment providing new arenas for Gothic, both as a marker of subcultural belonging and as the medium for the production and dissemination of narratives that generate and perpetuate the circulation of unease? Even as it has democratized access to information and intensified the possibilities for interpersonal connection, has the Internet age has also opened the way for fraught uncertainties concerning the status of reality as ontological anchor? To what extent, in other words, has the virtuality of the web as assemblage – in which news media jostles meme and reporting co-exists intimately with mediated content – resulted in an unprecedented elision of the boundary separating fiction from truth?
We are currently in discussion with a renowned academic publisher and are seeking contribution for chapters of 5,000 -7,000 word. Topics for discussion can include, but are not limited to the following:
- Creepypasta and online narratives
- File-sharing sites and user-generated horror media
- Photoshop and the digital manipulation of ‘reality’
- Pornography and sexuality
- Social Media
- Viral marketing/meme
- Representations of the Internet in other media
- Suicide websites
- Shock-sites (Rotten.com etc)
- Online subcultures
- Alternative realities
- Mass Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG)
- The Internet and ‘moral panics.’
Please send proposals of up to 500 words by December 12 2014 to firstname.lastname@example.org
Submissions of final chapters will be due April 2015.