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The Rise of the Monster Scholars

As I watched horror films when I was younger I especially appreciated those learned individuals who devoted their lives to developing expertise in the area of the monstrous. Perhaps the most iconic of such figures is Abraham van Helsing from Dracula, pictured in association with this post in the image at left as portrayed by the late, great Peter Cushing in The Horror of Dracula. Later in my adult life I rekindled my love for such things, not only as a fan, but also as a scholar. When I first started this blog some two years ago it was largely a forum for me to share my thoughts on issues related to the fantastic, including horror. But I had begun interacting with some of the academic literature on these areas and soon discovered that this was an area largely untapped in the blogosphere in terms of making some of these reflections accessible to a popular audience.

My friend and fellow academic horror explorer, Matt Cardin of The Teeming Brain, recently brought an item to my attention that shows that this area of scholarship is growing. Of all places, The Chronicle of Higher Education featured an article on July 22 titled “Taking a Slash at Horror.” This piece looks at the academic analysis of various genres of film, and suggests that horror is the most popular genre for such exploration. To substantiate this claim the article quotes Bernice Murphy, editor of The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies, interviewed here previously. In the middle of the article it includes a listing of several academic books on the subject as examples of this academic study, most of whom will be featured here in interviews over the course of the next few weeks and months.

Readers may wonder why there are so many involved in this area of academic analysis, and the article provides a few suggestions. One has to do with the “video explosion” of the 1970s and 1980s, which, according to the article, “schooled many film scholars of today, who as teenagers haunted video stores brimming with exploitative horror films with salacious, beckoning covers.” This is certainly the case for me and remains so as I build my DVD collection which provides an opportunity for reassessment and analysis of films in the horror genre.

Although this is certainly a niche focus in the blogosophere, I am pleased to see that TheoFantastique is situated within a robust academic subculture that shows no signs of slowing down in the near future.

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