Feminist Horror Cinema
- Start date: 1 February 2022
- End date: 31 July 2023
- Funder: Arts and Humanities Research Council
- Primary investigator: Dr Alison Peirse
Partners and collaborators
MAI: Feminism and Visual Culture journa, The Final Girls Berlin Film Festival
This fellowship brings to light the work of ten women writers, producers, directors, editors and composers working on some of the most well-known horror films and franchises from the 1970s-2000s.
I reveal the story of a unique period in genre filmmaking, charting the creative struggles of women amidst turbulent political and cultural changes in industry, society and academia. I ask:
- What major industrial, political and cultural shifts took place in horror filmmaking between the 1970s-2000s?
- How did we move from individual and industrial rejection of feminist reform in the 1970s, to the fervently feminist horror filmmaking, criticism and fandom that emerged in the 2010s?
This project is feminist in its attempt to deepen our understanding of the contributions of women to horror film.
However, the feminist intent runs deeper than this desire alone. The case studies are an opportunity to ask bigger questions of film studies:
- To what extent are our methodological and theoretical models for studying women filmmakers, feminist film criticism and horror film still useful?
- How might they be re-conceptualised in light of current political and social concerns?
- What forms might the research take?
The primary aim of the fellowship, then, is to establish an original, critical- and practice-based research model for doing women's film history.
I offer an intersectional re-reading of 1970s activist and radical theories of cinefeminism and horror film, and generate a new socially conscious theory of women's film practice.
I then construct an iterative, reflexive and cyclical methodology for doing film research that moves across prose, audio and audiovisual mediums.
Finally, I employ techniques of creative nonfiction to retool disciplinary understandings of academic form, creating engaging narrative nonfiction outputs with wide public appeal.
There are two major outputs. The first is an 80,000-word monograph, Feminist Horror Cinema.
My book benefits researchers in film genre and history by revealing the unknown contributions of women to horror films, and by creating a transformative model for doing film history.
The second output output is an essay film, based on the second draft of my book. This will be published in a special issue of MAI: Feminism and Visual Culture. I will edit the special issue and mentor the academic contributors in filmmaking.
The Final Girls Berlin Film Festival will launch the issue in an online, live showcase event.
The contributors benefit from new technical skills. MAI and Final Girls benefit from academic expertise on film gender and genre.