A symposium organized by the Manchester Center for Gothic Studies @ Manchester Metropolitan University.
What, when & where
The Gothic 1980s: The decade that scared us
Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University
Saturday, June 8th 2019
This symposium seeks to re-evaluate the Gothic mood and culture of the 1980s and the legacy of this decade in contemporary Gothic studies. While many disparage the decade as a period of soulless commercialism, avid consumerism and the decade that fashion forgot, the 1980s introduced new modes of communication, new commercial appreciation for Gothic and horror texts, and is now, in contemporary times, suffused with a sense of nostalgia. The seeds of discontent in our contentious and fractured present were sown in the 1980s, making it an important if divisive (and richly Gothic) decade. It is the decade of Threads, The Terminator, and Ghostbusters (all 1984); ‘stranger danger campaigns’, milk carton kids, and child abductions (Adam Walsh etc); media spectacle, 24 hour news cycles, and numerous ‘shocking’ TV specials; increased and explicit special FX in film and the popularity of ‘plastic reality’; the rise of censorship, the PG13 certificate, the Parental Advisory sticker, ‘video nasties’ and the 1984 Video Recordings Act. It is the last decade of the analogue era before the global advent of the internet.
This symposium is open to proposals on any geographical region or emphasis which evaluates or (re)considers the impact of the Gothic 1980s. Topics of interest include but are not limited to texts and contexts around neoliberalism, culture wars; conflict crises, famine, political protest and distrust of government, Alien(ation) and homeland invasion; deadly pathogens, and fearing/fetishising the rise of new technologies; calls for censorship and concerns on increased violence; and a glut of Gothically-tinged children’s fantasy films and TV shows (Knightmare, for example), and Gothic games. Contemporary culture looks back on this era paradoxically as a period of intense upheaval and neo-conservative backlash, while simultaneously fetishizing it through retro-Gothic nostalgia (such as Stranger Things (2016 – ), IT (2017) and Ready Player One (2018)). Most striking of all, Hollywood is currently cycling through remakes/reboots featuring the decade’s most iconic monsters and monster hunters including A Nightmare on Elm Street; Halloween, Poltergeist, Friday the 13th, Ghostbusters, IT, Hellraiser etc. As a logical, if nightmarish, persistence of this nostalgia, the ascension of Donald Trump to the American Presidency consolidates many aspects of 1980s American ideals turned Gothic nightmare. On the whole, this symposium looks back and examines the darkness of the decade as a distinct disjuncture in recent cultural history.
Topics may include but are not limited to:
· The 1980s and Postmodern Gothic
· The ‘serial killer’ decade in popular culture (TV culture, cases, Ramirez, Bundy, Nilsen etc.)
· Gothic politics (i.e. neoliberalism/deregulation etc)
· Remaking (and revisiting) 1980s films and aesthetics today
· 1980s film and TV industry practices (sequels, mini-series, film to TV adaptations etc)
· Explicit versus implicit Gothic horror/terror
· Gothic Literature of the 1980s
· Film and TV adaptations of 1980s texts
· 80s Gothic music and subcultures
· Nostalgia for 1980s Gothic programming
· Analogue vs digital Gothics (including VHS culture)
· Gothic games (i.e board games/computer games etc)
· Film franchises/reboots/remakes
· 80s Fantasy Gothics
Deadline & how to apply
Please send abstracts to Dr. Sorcha Ní Fhlainn, Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University at firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, March 29th, 2019. Contact me at this address if you have any queries related to the event.