Researching Horror Fans and Audiences in the Twentieth-First Century

Edited by: James Rendell and Kate Egan

If ‘[w]e… want to think about horror as an umbrella term encompassing several different sub-categories’ (Cherry 2009: 3), frequently clustered as ‘cycles’ located on particular media at specific times and places (Mittell 2004: 8; Hutchings 2004: 15-16), then horror fans are even more nebula. From the individual illegally downloading rare banned cinema from other parts of the world to the parents taking their children to a kid-friendly /Stranger Things /Secret Cinema matinee event, horror fandom is a leviathan that is both shapeshifting and hydra-headed. There are those who love certain monsters, subgenres, and creatives, whilst others enjoy the genre via specific media such as novels, theatre, cinema, TV, and video games. Equally, the types of affective pleasure that come from consuming horror media are myriad: the thrills of being scared (Barker et al. 2016), to the emotional bond formed with characters (Rendell 2019), to valuing subcultural knowledge-over-effect (Hills 2005). Likewise, intersectional make-up such as gender, race, sexuality, and nationality inform audience responses to horror media and shape fan identity (e.g. Johnson 2015; Morales2021). Conversely, horror fandom is often married with anti-fandom reacting to perceived misuses of the genre, such as cult fans’ disdain for Hollywood teen Gothic blockbusters, viewers who prefer aesthetic restraint over the shock and gore of depicted corporeal trauma, and those who find issues with onscreen representations or lack thereof. Moreover, the variety of fan practices further complicates horror fandoms as participatory cultures, oscillating between the textual and tactile, between the offline and online, and between affirmational and transformative works. We might also note that whilst devotees invest time, energy, and finances into consuming an array of genre paratexts (e.g. Sexton 2015), there are also audiences who casually or infrequently enjoy horror (e.g. Church 2021). Yet, despite the continual study of horror media, the industries producing it, and the cultures or nations from which it arises, comparatively the examination of horror fans have been left somewhat in the shadows (Hills2014: 90; Barker et al. 2016: 66-67). Addressing this shortcoming, this edited collection seeks a diverse range of chapters on horror audiences, fans, and anti-fans. Topics could include (but are not limited to):

  • Horror fans and affect
  • Identity and horror fandom
  • Horror fandom of specific texts, monsters, subgenres, creatives, or
  • Life cycles of horror fandom
  • Transmedia and horror audiences
  • Horror fans collecting, paratexts, and merchandise
  • Controversy surrounding horror audiences and intra-fandom conflict
  • Horror anti-fandom
  • Horror fandoms’ online cultures and digital media
  • Transformative horror fan works
  • Haptic fan experiences and tactile fan crafts
  • Horror fandom and the body – cosplay, clothing, tattoos
  • National, transcultural, and global horror fandom
  • Lay audiences and causal fandom
  • Genre nostalgia, memories of horrors past, and audiences’
    experiences of horror media
  • Horror fans and public events – conventions, festivals, themed
    events, and experiential cinema**

Please submit abstracts (maximum 350 words) and bios (maximum 150 words), or any questions you have, to James Rendell ((james.rendell /at/ ) and Kate Egan ((kate.egan /at/ ). There is an intention to submit the collection for the 21st Century Horror series at EUP who have expressed initial interest. Submission deadline: 31^st July 2022.

Work Cited

Barker, M., Egan, K., Phillips, T. and Ralph, S. 2016. /Alien Audiences: Remembering and Evaluating a Classic Movie/. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Cherry, B. 2009. /Horror/. London: Routledge.

Church, D. 2021. /Post-Horror: Art, Genre, and Cultural Elevation/. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Hills, M. 2005. /The Pleasures of Horror/. London: Continuum.__

Hills, M. 2014. ‘Horror Reception/Audiences.’ In Benshoff, H.M. (ed). /A Companion to the Horror Film/. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell. pp:90-108

Hutchings, P. 2004. /The Horror Film. /Harlow://Pearson Longman.__

Johnson, D. D. 2015. ‘Misogynoir and Antiblack Racism: What /The Walking Dead/ Teaches us About the Limits of Speculative Fiction Fandom.’ /Journal of Fandom Studies/. 3(3). pp:259-275

Mittell, J. 2004. /Genre and Television: From Cop Shows to Cartoons in American Culture/. New York: Routledge.__

Morales, O. 2021. ‘The Visceral in Latinx Horror’. /Flow/ [online]. 27^th April. Available at:

Rendell, J. 2019. A picture is worth a thousand corpses: Audiences’ affective engagement with /In the Flesh/ and /The Walking Dead/ through online image practices. /Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies/. 16(2). pp.88-117

Sexton, J. 2015. Creeping Decay: Cult Soundtracks, Residual Media, and Digital Technologies. /New Review of Film and Television Studies/. 13(1). pp:12-30