Haunted Histories and Troubled Pasts: Twenty-first Century Screen Horror and the Historical Imagination

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Howell, Amanda

Green, Stephanie

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2024
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Abstract

Haunted Histories and Troubled Pasts speaks to how a transnational array of recent screen entertainments participate, through horror, in public discourses of history, the social and creative work of reshaping popular understanding of our world through the lens of the past.

Contemporary film and television – and popular screen cultures more generally – are distinguished by their many and varied engagements with history, including participation in worldwide movements to reconcile past losses and injuries with present legacies. The chapters in this collection address themselves to 21st-century screen horror's participation in this widespread fascination with and concern for the historical - its recurrent reimagining of the relation between the past and present, which is part of its inheritance from the Gothic. They are concerned with the historical work of horror's spectral occupations, its visceral threats of violence and its capacity for exploring repressed social identities, as well as the ruptures and impositions of colonization and nationhood.

Trauma is a key theme in this book, examined through themes of war and genocide, ghostly invasions, institutionalized abuse, apocalyptic threat and environmental destruction. These persistent, fearful reimaginings of the past can take many lurid – sometimes tritely generic – forms. Together, these chapters explore and reflect upon horror's ability to speak through them to the unspoken of history, to push the boundaries and probe the fault-lines and ideological impositions of received historical narratives – while reminding us that history and the historical imagination persist as sites of contention.

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Cultural studies

Cinema studies

Fantasy films

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Howell, A; Green, S, Haunted Histories and Troubled Pasts Twenty-first Century Screen Horror and the Historical Imagination, 2024

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