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Call for Contributors: Food and Horror on Screen

What’s Eating You?: Food and Horror on Screen

There is, perhaps, no closer association than the one between food and life – and nearly as close is that between food and quality of life.  Old adages tell us that we are what we eat, or more broadly, divide us into two categories: those who live to eat, and those who eat to live. And of course, what child hasn’t heard “Eeww! Don’t put that in your mouth!”?

Food sustains our bodies, creates and binds relationships, signals beliefs, and engenders romance.  Our relationship with food, then, is not only one of biological continuance, but of what it means to be human, and so, bubbles over with taboos, fears, morals, boundaries, and hierarchies. Are we hunters or prey?  Connoisseurs or cave dwellers?  Pure or polluted?

Horror narratives routinely grasp those questions and spin them into nightmares. Monstrous others dine on bugs and worms, or force-feed them to unwilling captives; Bodies, still thrashing with life are ripped apart for consumption by zombies, or worse, by other humans; The tables of consumption are turned, and the consumer becomes the consumed; The unaware innocently dine on their friends, neighbors, and loved ones. Overindulgence, as Le Grande Bouffe (1973) and Se7en (1995) warn, can kill us, and occasionally, as films like The Stuff (1985) and Poultrygeist (2006) illustrate, our food fights back.  From Blood Feast (1963) to Sweeney Todd (2007); Delicatessen (1991) to Hannibal (2001); and Bad Taste (1987) to Black Sheep (2006), motion pictures have reminded us that it is an “eat or be eaten” world.

This volume is intended to explore the deeper significance of such stories: The ways in which they reflect (or challenge) our deepest fears about consuming and being consumed. How do these films mock our taboos, threaten our complacencies, and unsettle our notions about the human condition?  How do they critique our increasing focus on consumption?  In what ways do they hold a mirror to our taken-for-granteds about food and humanity and ask if we are more than what we eat, or if what we eat truly matters?

Proposals for both topical essays and close readings of a single text are welcome. Please note that this volume is focused on fictional, or explicitly fictionalized, narratives on screen. Essays that treat documentary or other non-fiction horror stories about food and consumption are outside the scope of this project.

The editors seek 500-word proposals for engaging, accessible essays that will explore a wide range of narratives linking food and horror, with an eye toward the ways in which food is used as cultural, social, and philosophical commentary. Please send your 500-word abstract to both co-editors, Cindy Miller cynthia_miller@emerson.edu  and Bow Van Riper: abvanriper@gmail.com 

May 31, 2015 – Deadline for Abstracts

June 1, 2015 – Notification of Acceptance Decisions
December 1, 2015 – Chapter Drafts Due
March 1, 2016 – Chapter Revisions Due

May 1, 2016 –Delivery to Publisher


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