A black and white illustration of Walpurgis Night

WALPURGISNACHT: FOLKLORE & POPULAR CULTURE (LA Online)

Thu. Apr. 29, 2021

Walpurgisnacht, the evening of the 30th of April, is said to be one of the holiest days of witch’s calendar; the night before the feast of Saint Walpurga, who drove the witches out of Germany. Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, declared Walpurgisnacht one of the holiest days of the Satanic year. It was said that on this evening, covens of witches would gather on Brocken mountain in Northern Germany, to weave their nefarious evil. With instructor Mikel Koven, this class explores the folklore surrounding Walpurgisnacht and its representation in popular culture, including the poetry of Goethe, the music of Mendelssohn, the folk rock/folk metal sounds of Faun, and of course the films of Paul Naschy. How does all this fit together? Only the witches know and will reveal all on Walpurgisnacht 2021.

Image from film "The Skin I Live In" featuring a woman in a mask laying on a table for a cosmetic surgical procedure

PROJECTING HORRORS REAL, IMAGINARY AND METAPHORICAL: TRANS AND OTHER GENDER-NON-CONFORMING BODIES IN HORROR CINEMA (LA Online)

Thu. May. 27, 2021

Gender non-conformity has long been a marker in cinema for murderous villainy and psychosis or has been presented as reason enough for anyone thus marked to be dispatched from their narrative universes with excessive (and often casually misogynistic) force. For transgender and gender-diverse people, everyday life can be the stuff of horror, felt especially by trans people of color. Much of screen media production, has only served, through stereotyping and ignorance, to perpetuate the real traumas and horrors experienced routinely by trans people. This lecture will debunk no small number of harmful myths about transgender people, propagated by the screen media-industrial complex and in the horror movies historically produced within it. With instructor Cerise Howard, we’ll explore the ubiquity of trans narratives and imagery within horror cinema – even if they’ve most often been deployed at a metaphorical remove from being transgender narratives and imagery.

A book cover for EREBUS, with person with fangs holds their bloody and hairy hands in front of their face

LESS PUNK, MORE SPLATTER: THE HARD ROCK HORROR FICTION OF SHAUN HUTSON (London Online)

Tue. May. 11, 2021

This lecture explores horror novelist Shaun Hutson’s oeuvre, with particular attention to his most prolific decade, the 1980s, and offers an overview of the concurrent “literary nasties” phenomenon in Britain. With the aid of lavish illustrations, extended quotations, clips from interviews, and contemporaneous horror films, we will assess the lasting significance of – as Kerrang magazine had it – “The Shakespeare of Gore.”

Image from the film "The Thing," in a frozen room, a man holds a lamntern and looks at a disembodied head.

THE HOLLOW THE IMAGE LEAVES EMPTY: ALTERITY, ABJECTION, & THE THING (NYC Online)

Thu. Apr. 22, 2021

In his treatise on psychoanalysis, Jacques Lacan makes reference to das ding, a thing-presentation that is the beyond of the signified. Das ding is the Other in absolute alterity, outside language and mainly characterized by the fact that, for Lacan, “it is impossible for us to imagine it”. In her essay “Powers of Horror”, Julie Kristeva, “The abject has only one quality of the object—that of being opposed to I”; the abject is exclusion, in a place without meaning, and from that place it cries out in revolt and brutish suffering. This is the essence of horror: that which can be neither known nor named. Through the lens of The Thing, and texts such as Planet of the Vampires and It, instructor Shelagh Rowan-Legg’s class will examine the horror where alterity and abjection meet.

Image from the film "Spoorlos" of a long tunnel, at the end of which, a woman is silhouhetted in the light.e

CHRONICLE OF A DEATH FORETOLD: SPOORLOS (NYC Online)

Thu. May. 20, 2021

George Sluizer’s 1988 thriller “Spoorlos” unfolds as a series of prophecies, including several of the self-fulfilling variety: its characters can envision the consequences of their actions but pursue them anyway. Where many genre films utilize the element of surprise, “Spoorlos” is constructed so that its characters — and the audience — can see everything coming. This creeping, inescapable dread makes Sluizer’s film a classic, and gives it a genuinely existential dimension. Led by Adam Nayman, this class will analyze how “Spoorlos” plays with various literary and dramatic conventions from its shivery, premonitory prologue to its startling, retrospectively inevitable climax, while also examining its relationship to various cinematic influences (including “Vampyr,” “Psycho” and “The Shining”), and a comparison with its 1993 American remake “The Vanishing”—a curious and baffling case of a European filmmaker reworking and arguably disfiguring his own material in a Hollywood context.