Yesterday I received my author copy of the Palgrave Handbook to Horror Literature (and, to get the self-promotion out of the way, more info can be found here). It’s always satisfying to see your work in print, not in the least because academic publishing tends to take time. This project started early last year, with me submitting a proposal and writing a first draft. My chapter is now part of a book with no less than 37 contributors and over 500 pages. I tip my hat to the editors who somehow managed to keep control over this monster project (Ha! Monster! Geddit?).
What has always attracted me to writing book chapters is that, more than journal articles, they allow one to see one’s work in the context of a field. Yes, I know that journals do the same, at least in theory, and that they are seen as more prestigious in some fields. Being an independent scholar, an alt ac, a recovering academic, or whatever label you want to stick on me, I have little regard for status these days and prefer to write as and when I see fit. I’ll probably write a separate blog post on that at some point, when my thoughts on the subject have become a bit more organised.
So. Horror literature. I was attracted to this project because I like horror and I like literature (note to self: come up with more interesting, if less genuine, explanations for career choices). There’s a wealth of material on horror more generally and your local academic librarian will be able to point you in the right direction, saving me the trouble of providing a reading list here. But many seminal horror studies focus on film, and while I love film, I love literature even more. To be part of a project that aimed to rectify that focus was an intriguing prospect.
I won’t bang on about my own contribution too much. It’s about 1990s horror, Bret Easton Ellis, Poppy Z. Brite, and Mark Z. Danielewski, so well worth a read if I say so myself. But I was struck by the variety of the other chapters. Having recently set up my Goodreads author profile in preparation for the launch of my own book (self-promotion alert: more info here), horror was one of the genres I was offered to situate my writing within. As if horror is just one thing. Which perhaps it is. But like the creatures that roam its dark corners it is much, much more complex than outsiders often think.
One does not commonly read academic books cover to cover, but I am looking forward to get stuck in and discover the wealth of material bit by bit. There’s a chapter on trolls (by Ármann Jakobsson). An exploration of horror and Native American literature (by Joy Porter). A study of animals in horror (by Bernice M. Murphy). Disability in horror (by Alan Gregory). I could go on, but the table of contents is yours to browse, and I think I’ve made my point. This is going to be fun. Especially with the dark winter months hitting the UK at last.
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