Image from the film "Shivers": A man and a girl are in the an elevator. The man is smelling the girl's hair. There is a body half-seen on the floor.


Date(s) - Thu. Mar. 18, 2021
7:30 pm EDT - 8:45 pm EDT

Émilie von Garan

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In her book on the role of gender in the modern horror film, Carol Clover discusses how the female body often translates as a metaphoric architecture for cinema, arguing that its penetrable yet opaque interiority becomes a perfect site for housing anxieties, fears, or what one would deem, following Freudian theory, the uncanny. This potentially disturbing correspondence between the uncanny feminine and architectural interiority finds its most overt articulation in horror films that take residential towers as their setting, with the precarity of female bodies highlighting the terrors that they give rise to. We see this in numerous horror films from the late 1960s until the present. This lecture focuses on the coupling between residential towers and threatening and/or threatened female bodies in two films—David Cronenberg’s Shivers (1975), and Bernard Rose’s Candyman (1992)—locating in each productive engagements with different stages of neoliberalism and urban development.

Negotiating the complex legacy of the association of the home with the realm of the feminine, we will think through questions of gendered representation via the concept of concrete maternality, which alludes to the residential tower as a new site that incubates anxieties related to the late capitalist transformation of social relations and its gendered formulations of unhomeliness. Specifically, as we look at the treatment of the residential high-rise as womb-like, we will come to understand the building as concrete, objective in its materiality, while envisioning its interiors to be experiential/embodied, thus open to subverting the logic of late capitalism from within. In other words, examining bodily and gendered analogies in architecture will enable us to reflect on the various ways sites and sights of horror directly relate to broader cultural trends and economic policies. Finally, we will reflect on the legacies of these films and turn to more recent productions that explore similar issues.

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