One of your objectives in DIG 215 is to “apply specific discursive and theoretical concepts to the analysis of representations of death in 21st century popular culture.” To this end you’ll compare two cultural productions—novels, comics, games, movies, television shows, podcasts, and so on—that somehow exemplify what we might call late postmodern horror.
Late postmodern horror in this context refers to contemporary narratives that do all the things Pinedo ascribes to postmodern horror plus reflects the ubiquity of media and technology in everyday life. Late postmodern horror is often characterized by the following:
- an unbounded experience, crossing over multiple media and platforms;
- metalepsis, a transgression of boundaries between narrative levels or between the inside and outside of the text;
- self-reflexivity, an aware of genre codes to the point of manipulating them; and
- engages in what the critics Bolter and Grusin call hypermediation, or a “style of visual representation whose goal is to remind the viewer of the medium” (272).
This comparative analysis can take one of three forms:
- a videographic essay;
- a podcast-style report; or
- an essay that incorporates multimedia.
Whatever the form, the final version will be posted to our class blog under the category “Comparative Horror.” The crux of this analysis is your application of relevant theoretical concepts. We’ve encountered quite a few of these concepts in our readings and class discussions: Pinedo on postmodern horror, Creed on monstrous women, Cohen on monsters, Gothic tropes, horror verité, etc. I expect you to dig around and find other appropriate concepts as well.
This is a comparative assignment. It asks you to place two works in conversation with each other, the idea being that this dialogue reveals something about both works that would have remained obscured if either work had been considered by itself. The two works should illuminate each other. One of the works may be the same material you considered for your Snapchat Horror Story.
The two works should be distinctively different from each other, either in form, aesthetics, narrative, or theme. For example, two episodes of Black Mirror are not distinctively different from each other for the purposes of this assignment. An episode of Black Mirror and a videogame would be though.
For your Comparative Horror Analysis to count as Satisfactory, it must meet the following criteria:
- The analysis is 1,500-3,000 words.
- The analysis compares two late postmodern horror works that are distinctively different from each other.
- The analysis successfully integrates at least one theoretical text from our class readings and discussions.
- The analysis successfully integrates at least one scholarly secondary source beyond our class readings and discussions.
- The analysis offers some non-obvious insights about both works of horror.
- The analysis is coherent.
- The analysis is based on visual, textual, sonic, or procedural evidence drawn from the two works of horror.
- The analysis offers a synthesis that explains why your insights matter.
- The analysis makes effective use of your chosen form (video essay, podcast, or multimedia essay).
- The analysis follows scholarly standards for citation, using either MLA or Chicago style.
- The analysis contains no more than 3 grammatical, spelling, or other “mechanical” errors.
- The analysis contains no more than 2 minor factual inaccuracies and no major factual inaccuracies.
- The analysis is shared on the course blog under the category Comparative Horror by the end of the day, Friday, February 22. The direct link to the post is also shared on Moodle at the same time.
For your Comparative Horror Analysis to count as Sophisticated, it must meet this criteria (in addition to the Satisfactory criteria above):
- The analysis integrates at least two scholarly sources beyond what we’ve read for class.
- The analysis reaches higher levels of originality and synthesis.
- The analysis uses more effective rhetoric and style to advance its argument.
Comparative analyses can be difficult to manage in terms of organization. I recommend approaching each text separately and then providing a synthesis at the end. In other words, say almost everything you have to say about one work, then move to the second work, rather than bouncing back and forth between the two works. That’s not to say you can’t try the latter approach, but it does require a greater degree of care and control to pull off successfully.
Your job is not to judge the two works, or to rank one as better than the other. This is not a review. Rather, consider how each work approaches similar issues through different techniques, or conversely, uses similar techniques for different aims. Or, some other variation of the dynamic between form and content. In any case, consider each work on its own terms. Pay attention to media specificity, or, how the work takes advantage of the affordances of its particular medium.
When it comes to publishing your analysis, keep in mind best practices for your chosen medium. For videographic essays, I recommend uploading your video to YouTube or Vimeo and then embedding the video into a blog post. For podcasts, I recommend uploading your audio to SoundCloud and embedding the audio in a blog post. You should similarly embed images, audio, and video into your multimedia essay.
By the way, what’s a videographic essay? Basically it’s a scholarly work analyzing film or video, using the same form—moving images and audio—as the object that’s being studied. For an extremely well done example, take a look at this videographic essay about Alfred Hitchcock’s use of space. Here’s another videographic essay, about the film Ex Machina.
- Boling, Kelli S., and Kevin Hull. “Undisclosed Information—Serial Is My Favorite Murder: Examining Motivations in the True Crime Podcast Audience.” Journal of Radio & Audio Media 25, no. 1 (May 2018): 92–108. https://doi.org/10.1080/19376529.2017.1370714.
Byrne, Peter. “The Butler(s) Did It – Dissociative Identity Disorder in Cinema.” Medical Humanities 27, no. 1 (June 1, 2001): 26–29. https://doi.org/10.1136/mh.27.1.26.
- Campbell, Norah, and Mike Saren. “The Primitive, Technology and Horror: A Posthuman Biology.” Ephemera: Theory and Politics in Organization 10, no. 1 (2010): 152–76.
Carr, Diane. “Ability, Disability and Dead Space.” Game Studies 14, no. 2 (December 2014). http://gamestudies.org/1402/articles/carr.
- Cooley, Kevin, and Caleb Andrew Milligan. “Haunted Objects, Networked Subjects: The Nightmarish Nostalgia of Creepypasta.” Horror Studies 9, no. 2 (October 1, 2018): 193–211. https://doi.org/10.1386/host.9.2.193_1.
Gottschalk, Simon. “Videology: Video-Games as Postmodern Sites/Sights of Ideological Reproduction.” Symbolic Interaction 18, no. 1 (1995): 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1525/si.19184.108.40.206.
- Grant, Barry Keith. “Digital Anxiety and the New Verité Horror and SF Film.” Science Fiction Film and Television 6, no. 2 (June 27, 2013): 153–75. https://muse-jhu-edu.ezproxy.lib.davidson.edu/article/510738.
- Hancock, Danielle, and Leslie McMurtry. “‘Cycles Upon Cycles, Stories Upon Stories’: Contemporary Audio Media and Podcast Horror’s New Frights.” Palgrave Communications 3 (August 1, 2017): 17075. https://doi.org/10.1057/palcomms.2017.75.
Hantke, Steffen. “In the Belly of the Mechanical Beast: Technological Environments in the Alien Films.” The Journal of Popular Culture 36, no. 3 (2003): 518–46. https://doi.org/10.1111/1540-5931.00020.
- Have, Iben, and Birgitte Stougaard Pedersen. “Sonic Mediatization of the Book: Affordances of the Audiobook.” MedieKultur: Journal of Media and Communication Research 29, no. 54 (June 28, 2013): 18 p.-18 p. https://doi.org/10.7146/mediekultur.v29i54.7284.
- Henriksen, Line. “‘Spread the Word’: Creepypasta, Hauntology, and an Ethics of the Curse.” University of Toronto Quarterly 87, no. 1 (Winter 2018): 266–80. https://doi.org/10.3138/utq.87.1.266.
- Hinduja, Sameer, and Justin W. Patchin. “Cyberbullying: An Exploratory Analysis of Factors Related to Offending and Victimization.” Deviant Behavior 29, no. 2 (January 22, 2008): 129–56. https://doi.org/10.1080/01639620701457816.
- Kirkland, Ewan. “Gothic Videogames, Survival Horror, and the Silent Hill Series.” Gothic Studies 14, no. 2 (November 2012): 106–22. https://doi.org/10.7227/GS.14.2.8.
- Liu, Linda. “Mortal Cameras and Vulnerable Vision in Found Footage Horror.” Berkeley Center for New Media, 2015.
- Matheson, T. J. “Triumphant Technology and Minimal Man: ‘The Technological Society’, Science Fiction Films, and Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien.’” Extrapolation 33, no. 3 (Fall 1992): 215–229.
- Rochester, Rachel. “We’re Alive: The Resurrection of the Audio Drama in the Anthropocene.” Philological Quarterly 93, no. 3 (Summer 2014): 361–81.
Sayad, Cecilia. “Found-Footage Horror and the Frame’s Undoing.” Cinema Journal 55, no. 2 (Winter 2016): 43–66.
Ryan, Marie-Laure, Lori Emerson, and Benjamin J. Robertson. The Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014. http://muse-jhu-edu/book/29441/.
Trottier, Daniel. “Interpersonal Surveillance on Social Media.” Canadian Journal of Communication 37, no. 2 (July 1, 2012). https://doi.org/10.22230/cjc.2012v37n2a2536.
Tryon, Chuck. “Video from the Void: Video Spectatorship, Domestic Film Cultures, and Contemporary Horror Film.” Journal of Film & Video 61, no. 3 (Fall 2009): 40–51. https://doi.org/10.1353/jfv.0.0034.
Tsikerdekis, Michail, and Sherali Zeadally. “Online Deception in Social Media.” Commun. ACM 57, no. 9 (September 2014): 72–80. https://doi.org/10.1145/2629612.