Call For Papers: Transnational Monstrosity in Popular Culture

Saturday 3rd June 2017, York St John University

This one-day conference will explore the figure of the monster in transnational popular culture, across cinema, television, games, comics and literature, as well as through fandoms attached to global monster cultures. It is our intention to bring together researchers to consider how transnational monstrosity is constructed, represented and disseminated in global popular culture.

Since the popularisation of monster narratives in the nineteenth century, the monstrous figure has been a consistent border crosser, from Count Dracula’s journey on the Demeter from Romania to Whitby, to the rampaging monsters of Godzilla movies across multiple global cities. In folklore, such narratives have long been subject to specific local and national cultures, such as the shape-shifting Aswang of Filipino folklore or the Norwegian forest Huldra, yet global mediacapes now circulate mediatised representations of such myths across borders, contributing to a transnational genre that spans multiple media. Aihwa Ong has referred to ‘the transversal, the transactional, the translational, and the transgressive’ in transnational ‘human practices and cultural logics’, and each of these categories can encompass the scope of transformations imagined within cross-border constructions of monstrosity.

There has been significant recent interest in the ways in which transnationality, particularly in film studies, has depicted flows of people and demonstrated lines of cultural flow. This conference will explore cultural flow as it relates to the construction of a transnational genre (by producers and audiences), but will also explore the ramifications of representations of monstrosity in socio-political terms. The event also intends to engage with the ways in which monsters metaphorically represent forms of social and political otherness as they relate to cross-cultural or transnational forms and social groups, either directly or indirectly. Monstrosity has long been explored in a number of ways that connect gender, sexuality, class, race, nationality and other forms of otherness with depictions of monsters or monstrosity. The representation of refugees across Europe has been just one example of the ways in which cross-border monstrosity and otherness are culturally fused, with media outlets and political figures contributing to the repeated representation of refugees as a monstrous ‘swarm’ moving into and across European borders.

While the study of monsters in fiction is nothing new, the examination of the figure of the monster from a transnational perspective offers the opportunity to better understand: issues of cultural production and influence; the relationship between national cultures and transnational formations; hierarchies of cultural production; diasporic flows; the ethics of transnationalism; as well as the possibility to explore how shifting cultural and political boundaries have been represented through tropes of monstrosity. Hence, this conference seeks to offer new insights into the nature of transnational cultures and help us to understand how one of the oldest fictional metaphors has been transformed during the age of globalisation.

We welcome proposals for 20-minute papers, on topics around transnational monsters and monstrosity. Possible themes might include (but are not limited to):

Monstrous-genders/sexualities/ethnicities: transnational approaches to femininity and/or sexuality as monstrous or othered; interpretations of otherness in cross-cultural or comparative approaches.

Monster fandoms: transnational fandoms around monsters, or representations of monstrosity, which might include Whitby Dracula pilgrimages, kaijū eiga, or Pokemon.

Transnational horror and the monster: approaches to investigating particular monster tropes in comparative national cultures or across media that might include the figure of monsters in the slasher film, or the transnational appropriation of folkloric monsters in horror games such as the Wendigo in Until Dawn.

The transnational monster genre: theoretical explorations of the genericity of monster narratives and their relationships with national and transnational cultures (including regional approaches to affinitive transnational areas, such as Scandinavia or Latin America).

Reimagining monsters: cross-cultural appropriations of specific monster figures; issues of cultural power and difference within appropriations that might include Dracula, Godzilla, King Kong or zombies.

Monster as metaphor: cultural metaphors relevant to the figure of the monster as it relates to transnational, cross-border concerns, which might include the reflection of concerns about migration in The Walking Dead and the potential impact of those metaphors.

Proposals are welcomed on any other relevant topics

Please send proposals of 300 words, along with a brief biography (50 words), to transnationalmonsters@gmail.com by Wednesday the 1st of March 2017.

We will be announcing details of our invited speakers early in 2017.

Follow @TNMonstrosity on Twitter.

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