Open Graves, Open Minds update

81Ka5W+Ry-LPreviously TheoFantastique has noted the conference and publishing work of Open Graves, Open Minds. This post shares a recent update received on their work, including a book and conference.

OPEN GRAVES, OPEN MINDS relates the Undead in literature and other media to questions concerning genre, technology, consumption and social change. It features original research by leading scholars (Dr Sam George is a frequent commentator on the contemporary vampire; Dr Catherine Spooner, a pioneer of the study of Contemporary Gothic; and Dr Stacey Abbott is the author of the seminal work on the vampire in film and TV). The essays cover texts both familiar and unexpected, bringing debates around fictional vampires into the twenty-first century where they are currently enjoying a vogue.

This wide-ranging collection forms a coherent narrative which follows Enlightenment studies of the vampire’s origins in folklore and folk panics, tracing sources of vampire fiction, through Romantic incarnations in Byron and Polidori to Le Fanu’s Carmilla. Further essays discuss the undead in the context of Dracula, fin-de-siècle decadence and Nazi Germany together with early cinematic treatments. The rise of the sympathetic vampire is charted from Coppola’s Dracula, to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twilight. More recent manifestations in novels, TV, Goth  subculture, young adult fiction and cinema are dealt with in discussions of True Blood, The Vampire Diaries and much more. The book is essential reading for those who wish to explore open graves with an open mind: scholars of literature and film, enthusiasts of all things vampiric and writers of Undead fiction. The Transylvanian notebooks of the award-winning novelist Marcus Sedgwick conclude the study, shedding light on recent trends in young adult fiction. Sedgwick lays bare the writing process for budding novelists and creative writers in the genre.

The book which emerged from the project can be purchased from Manchester University Press: Open Graves, Open Minds: Representations of Vampires and the Undead from the Enlightenment to the Present Day. OGOM also produced a special issue of Gothic Studies on vampires.

Finally, following the vampire conference and Stoker centenary symposium, OGOM is reconvening in the autumn of 2015 for a werewolf inspired conference, Company of Wolves: Sociality, Animality and Subjectivity in Literary and Cultural Narratives- Werewolves, Shapeshifters and Feral Humans. Full details and call for papers to follow shortly. There is also have a new blog at

Call for Submissions – “Paranormal Pop: Religion, Pop Culture, and the Supernatural”

dXhFK5T_Call for Submissions

ROTHCO Press is accepting proposals for essays for an edited volume tentatively titled Paranormal Pop: Religion, Pop Culture, and the Supernatural, to be published in Summer 2015. Academic writers and independent scholars are invited to submit proposals spanning the wide range of topics on pop culture and the paranormal, and their connection to religion, including reflections on the full panoply of extraordinary beings (e.g. vampires, zombies, demons, ghosts, mutants, cyborgs, cryptoids, etc.) and extraordinary phenomena (e.g. psychic abilities, channeling, spontaneous combustion, magic, necromancy, etc.); as well as theoretical and/or historical reflections on supernaturalism, pop culture and theology.

Proposals should describe briefly (250 words or less) the intended content and argument of the essay, which in its final format should run between 20 to 25 pages (5,000 to 6,250 words).  In addition to the proposal please include a short biographical statement as well as contact information. Please see Submission Guidelines below.

ROTHCO Press is a boutique press specializing in a wide range of genres including: nonfiction, fiction, biography, pop culture, pets, adventure/travel, supernatural, horror, mystery, true crime, cookbooks, academic books and more. Located in Hollywood, California, the publisher is an affiliate of Co-Conspiracy Entertainment, a film and television production company.

Submission Guidelines

SUBMISSION DEADLINE:  October 31, 2014.

The guidelines below are for informational purposes only.

As outlined above ROTHCO Press is accepting proposals for essays for its Religion, Pop Culture and the Supernatural project. If your proposal is chosen, we will contact you. Rule Number One is to provide us with a number you can be reached at during business hours along with a working email address.

Submissions may only be made by the author of the work or someone with legal standing to make the submission on the author’s behalf. If you are neither, please do not contact us.

General Guidelines

  • We accept email submissions. Unless your submission is in digital form we will not be able to review it.
  • Submissions must be in PDF format. We will not open other documents.
  • It may take up to 90 days to adequately review your proposal. Contacting us about its status will only slow down the process.

What to Include in Your Proposal:

  • Include a brief description, a PDF of your proposal, a short author biography, a working email that you check regularly and a phone number where you can be reached during business hours.
  • If your proposal is a simultaneous submission, please indicate this in your email to us.

Where to Send Your Proposal:

Please send submissions to:

EDITORS: Darryl Caterine is a professor of Religious Studies at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. His research interests focus on supernaturalism in popular culture, both in the United States and parts of Latin America. His book Haunted Ground: Journeys through a Paranormal America (Praeger, 2011) is an ethnographic travelogue of various paranormal gatherings in the U.S., focused on Spiritualism, ufology, and dowsing. He has contributed articles on popular supernaturalism to Nova Religio, the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and Paranthropology.

John W. Morehead is a researcher, writer, and editor on horror, science fiction, fantasy, the paranormal, and other aspects of the fantastic in pop culture. He writes for his blog and Cinefantastique Online, is the co-editor and contributor to The Undead and Theology (Wipf & Stock, 2012), co-editor of Joss Whedon and Religion (McFarland, 2013), and he sits on the editorial board for GOLEM: The Journal of Religion and Monsters.


The trailer for Automata looks intriguing. Hopefully it will be a thoughtful expression of science fiction.

In a future where Earth’s ecosystem verges on collapse, man-made robots roam the cities to protect dwindling human life. When a robot overrides a key protocol put in place to protect human life, ROC Robotics insurance agent Jacq Vaucan is assigned to locate the source of the manipulation and eliminate the threat. What he discovers leads Vaucan, ROC Robotics and the police into a battle with profound consequences for the future of humanity.

In Memory of Bela Lugosi


A nice looking colorized photo from Dracula, and a video tribute in memory of Bela Lugosi who passed away August 16, 1956.

Conference on ‘Folk Horror’ at Queen’s University in Belfast


A Friend in the Furrows: Perspectives on ‘Folk Horror’ in Literature, Film and Music
19-21 September, 2014
Queen’s University Belfast

‘A Fiend in the Furrows’ is a three-day conference in association with the School of English and the Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities at Queen’s University Belfast, exploring ‘folk horror’ in British and Irish literature, film, television, and music. The event will include academic papers, film screenings, musical performances, and readings.

Through the writing of Nigel Kneale and Alan Garner, among others, the tradition has influenced British and Irish horror cinema and television, being revived and reimagined in films such as Quatermass and the Pit (1967), The Devil Rides Out (1968), Witchfinder General (1968), Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971), The Wicker Man (1973), and more recently in Wake Wood (2010) and Ben Wheatley’s Kill List (2011) and A Field in England (2013). The conference will examine ‘folk horror’ texts, films and music in their period context and the implications for British and Irish culture’s understanding of their own unsettled pasts.

It will feature papers examining topics such as:

  • Late 19th century Gothic literature
  • Early 20th century weird fiction
  • Modernism and weird fiction
  • The ghost story
  • Contemporary horror and fantasy fiction
  • Children’s literature
  • Folklore collectors and redactors
  • Folklore and the supernatural
  • Primitivism, atavism, degeneration
  • Rural and urban folklore
  • Horror cinema and television
  • Folkmusic

More on the conference here.

My thanks to Heather Greene for letting me know about this conference.

Titles of Interest – “Guillermo del Toro: Film as Alchemic Art”

9781441184023Guillermo del Toro: Film as Alchemic Art, Keith McDonald and Roger Clark (Bloomsbury, 2014)

A critical exploration of one of the most exciting, original and influential figures to emerge in contemporary film, Guillermo del Toro: Film as Alchemic Art is a major contribution to the analysis of Guillermo del Toro’s cinematic output. It offers an in-depth discussion of del Toro’s oeuvre and investigates key ideas, recurrent motifs and subtle links between his movies. The book explores the sources that del Toro draws upon and transforms in the creation of his rich and complex body of work. These include the literary, artistic and cinematic influences on films such as Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devil’s Backbone, Cronos and Mimic, and the director’s engagement with comic book culture in his two Hellboy films, Blade II and Pacific Rim. As well as offering extensive close textual analysis, the authors also consider del Toro’s considerable impact on wider popular culture, including a discussion of his role as producer, ambassador for ‘geek’ culture and figurehead in new international cinema.

Table of Contents



Part 1: Contexts and Audiences
Chapter 1. Influences and Intertexts
Chapter 2. Accented Fantasy and the Gothic Perverse
Chapter 3. Fan as Filmmaker

Part 2: Texts and Thematics
Chapter 4. Twisted Genres: Cronos and Mimic
Chapter 5. Trauma – Childhood –History: The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth
Chapter 6. Gothic Superheroes: Blade II, Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Chapter 7. From Development Hell to the Pacific Depths: The Strain and Pacific Rim

Filmography and Comicography

“Nova Religio” Focus on the Paranormal

banner w-gallagher lowe wessinger zeller.jpg

Joseph Laycock has announced the publication of a special edition of a journal that focuses on the paranormal where he served as guest editor.



Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, Vol. 18, No. 1, August 2014

Table of Contents

Approaching the Paranormal
Abstract: This issue of Nova Religio is devoted to “the paranormal,” focusing specifically on discourses rejected by mainstream religion and traditional science. The author explains the historic and cultural significance of such topics as hauntings, seances, alien abductions, and more generally the concept of “paranormal” as a category of religious beliefs. These articles contribute to what what may be a new focus area in the study of new and emerging religions.

Radiant Healing: Gender, Belief and Alternative Medicine in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada 1927–1935

Heirs through Fear: Indian Curses,A ccursed Indian Lands, and White Christian Sovereignty in America

Transformation: Whitley Strieber’s Paranormal Gnosis

When the Veilis Thin: The Simpsons’ Treehouses of Horror Popular and Academic Comparisons of Paranormal and Religious Phenomena


Be sure to check out the “paranormal” category here at TheoFantastique for past explorations of this topic.

Fandom and Religion Conference at University of Leicester

FandomFandom and Religion:
An international, inter-disciplinary conference
University of Leicester (UK) · 28th – 30th July 2015

A conference exploring interactions between religion and popular culture.

How does fandom work? Has fandom replaced or become a form of religion? This event will provide opportunity for participants to explore these and other questions about popular culture and religion. A main plenary strand will focus on fandom and religion. Short paper sessions will enable a wide variety of other topics to be explored.

Speakers will include:

Matt Hills (Aberystwyth, author of Fan Cultures)

Kathryn Lofton (Yale, author of Oprah)

John Maltby (Leicester, co-author of Personality, Individual Differences and Intelligence)

Chris Partridge (Lancaster, author of The Lyre of Orpheus) with John Lyden and Eric Mazur (co-editors of The Routledge Companion to Religion and Popular Culture)

Register interest in the conference at events/fandomconference/fandom or by sending an email to The Call for Papers will be issued in September 2014.

Titles of Interest – “The Vampire in Science Fiction Film and Literature”

51YFU1stCfL._SL500_AA300_Paul Meehan is a friend of TheoFantastique who has been interviewed and contributed guest essays here previously. I am currently reading his latest book for a review in the Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts. The book is The Vampire in Science Fiction Film and Literature (McFarland, 2014).

Vampires have been a popular subject for writers since their inception in 19th century Gothic literature and, later, became popular with filmmakers. Now the classical vampire is extinct, and in its place are new vampires who embrace the hi-tech worlds of science fiction.

This book is the first to examine the history of vampires in science fiction. The first part considers the role of science and pseudo-science, from late Victorian to modern times, in the creation of the vampire, as well as the “sensation fiction” of J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Bram Stoker, Arthur Conan Doyle and H.G. Wells. The second part focuses on the history of the science fiction vampire in the cinema, from the silent era to the present. More than sixty films are discussed, including films from such acclaimed directors as Roger Corman, David Cronenberg, Guillermo del Toro and Steven Spielberg, among others.

Contagious Vampires and Impotent Religion in “The Strain”

Abraham-Setrakian-Wallpaper-the-strain-fx-37168408-1280-800I finally had a chance to watch the first three episodes of The Strain after recording them. I am a big fan of Guillermo del Toro, including the material he produces. The television series is, of course, based on the 2009 novel by del Toro and Chuck Hogan. It incorporates  some of the vampire conceptions that del Toro included in Blade II, and combines them with other facets of the long history of vampire lore.

I noted while watching the series that it presents a secularized vampire that reproduces more like a contagion than as a supernatural entity, although it does retain the vestiges of the magical vampire of a previous generation. While the vampire has long been connected to disease, The Strain incorporates a disconnection of the supernatural from contagion. This shift from the supernatural to the natural vampire has been discussed previously in my interview with Titus Hjelm on “From Demonic to Genetic: The Rise and Fall of Religion in Vampire Film.”

This brings me to my second point, and that is how religion is featured in The Strain. It reflects both the skepticism of secularism, as well as that which comes from del Toro’s negative experiences with his grandmother’s Catholicism as a boy. One of the characters in The Strain is Abraham Setrakian, an Abraham Van Helsing-like character that connects present day conceptions of the vampire and their religious worldview with the present secular context. He has faced the rise of the vampires in the past, and is prepared to do so now, even if no one believes his ideas about the cause of the strange “infection.” In one scene, while Abraham is in jail for disturbing the peace, he is visited by Thomas Eichorst, a vampire who serves The Master vampire that Abraham has battled before. With a plate of glass between them in the visitor’s area, Eichorst taunts Setrakian and asks him where his God is, and why he isn’t intervening to stop this spread of The Master’s strain of vampirism.

Religion is also featured  in the series through two other characters. Ephraim Goodweather is a recovering alcoholic, and he attends a support group meeting at a church. Guadalupe Elizade is a mother with two grown and criminally troubled sons, who is depicted as a faithful Roman Catholic. In the depictions of religion through these characters the picture is one of impotence, or at least unimportance to the serious challenges of life. Goodweather attends the support group meetings only out of necessity in an attempt to gain joint custody of his son, but there is no evidence he finds any spiritual value in it. Elizade is a woman who attends church regularly, but it is of no interest to her sons, and it presents little value to anyone other than the elderly who may attend more out of tradition than anything else.

I haven’t read the book so I don’t know if religion will surface again in the series, or if it does whether it will play a slightly more positive role in Abraham Setrakian’s character given his connection to a vampiric worldview from the past. At any rate, it will be fun to watch as ever-changing monstrous concepts in connection with religion are played out on the small screen.

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