Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The New Republic :: Horror After 9/11

Horror After 9/11
Edited by Aviva Briefel and Sam J. Miller
Buy It Now
from "The Thrill of Applying Literary Theory to Everyday Texts"
by Ruth Franklin

I was moved to recall the Dirt dust-up by the appearance of a new book edited by Aviva Briefel, now a professor at Bowdoin, where she teaches courses on Victorian literature and horror movies. Horror After 9/11: World of Fear, Cinema of Terror, her new anthology co-edited with Sam J. Miller, is much in line with the Dirt approach, examining a genre that has traditionally not been valued for its insights into contemporary culture. At a discussion in New York last weekend featuring a few of the book’s contributors, the atmosphere had some of Dirt’s triumphalism—the freshness that follows the airing out an old taboo. Miller spoke about the “queer monster” in horror films as a sublimated expression of societal homophobia. “Torture porn” was invoked frequently as a dominant feature of movie-making in the Bush era. The audience was engrossed, respectful, and impressively well-informed about the subject. When a black audience member pointed out that horror movies almost always kill off their non-white characters, a hush fell over the room.

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