Here you can find a brief overview of some of the things I’ve written or talked about in the last few years – including publications, talks, panels, and reviews. Broadly speaking I am interested in horror, bodies, spaces and ecologies, although this plays out in lots of different ways. In recent years I have also been looking specifically at New Zealand horror. There is more specific information available on my UC Researcher Profile, which focuses on academic and outreach work.
My book Women, Monstrosity and Horror: Gynaehorror is a part of Routledge’s Film Philosophy on the Margins series. It’s available here and in all the usual places, and you’re welcome to get in touch to talk about it. In it, I put forward a theory of ‘gynaehorror’ – horror films concerned with all aspects of female reproductive horror, from reproductive and sexual organs, to virginity, pregnancy, birth, motherhood and finally to menopause. I’m interested not only in a a feminist interrogation of these films and themes, but also a counter-reading of the gynaehorrific that looks to new spaces of productive, radical and subversive monstrosity. This is a mode of representation and expression that has often been accused of being misogynistic, and in many cases rightly so, but there’s far more to these films and impulses, and it’s time to acknowledge that.
It covers a lot of ground, including areas that up until now had been absent from scholarship. Some of the themes explored include the intersection of horror, monstrosity and sexual difference; the relationships between normative female (hetero)sexuality and the twin figures of the chaste virgin and the voracious vagina dentata; embodiment and subjectivity in horror films about pregnancy and abortion; reproductive technologies, monstrosity and ‘mad science’; the discursive construction and interrogation of monstrous motherhood; and the relationships between menopause, menstruation, hagsploitation and ‘abject barren’ bodies in horror. I had a lot of fun writing it.
Other recent published academic work includes:
“Policing through parody with Wellington Paranormal“: an article on What We Do In the Shadows spin off Wellington Paranormal, which parodies policing reality series Police Ten 7, and the ways that the characters have been adopted by the New Zealand Police within official communications. I’m particularly interested in the politics of parody, satire and subversion, and the tension between the NZ Police’s soft power / hearts and minds campaigning, and the show’s implicit critique of the language and registers of pro-police programming.
“Slicing up the boys’ club: XX (2016) and the female-led horror anthology”: a chapter on gender, authorship, genre and marketing that looks at the female-led horror anthology XX within the context of horror omnibus films. This is part of a terrific and genuinely ground-breaking new collection called Women Make Horror – it’s currently available for pre-order
“Peering through the trees, or, everything I ever learned about American summer camp came from Friday the 13th Parts 1 – 4 and The Baby-sitter’s Club Super Special #2“: a hybrid academic article / personal essay for the collection Friday the 13th at 40 on the ways that low, marginal cultural texts like Friday the 13th and its sequels come to be a part of the blunt fist of American cultural hegemony elsewhere in the world.
“The Casketeers and prime-time tangihanga”: a book chapter on the wonderful observational reality series The Casketeers, and the opportunities and challenges of showing tangihanga (traditional Māori funeral rites / death customs) and the realities of funeral direction on television.
“Macduff vs Army of Darkness”: a book chapter on parody and pastiche in the stage play Macbeth Re-Arisen – a zombified sequel to Macbeth that draws as much from the Evil Dead franchise as it does Shakespeare.
“Horror on Home D: Gender, Humour and Horror in Housebound“: a book chapter on the NZ horror comedy Housebound, and the way it uses the language of culturally-specific comedy to challenge generic conventions, especially as they relate to the representation of women and family structures.
I’m currently working on a variety of projects. These include an account of the mediality of the New Zealand horror webseries Ao-terror-oa and its paratexts (for a collection on transmedia and mediation in horror), an appraisal of corporeality, houses and humour in Evil Dead II (for a collection on the films of Sam Raimi), and ongoing work on bodies, gender, horror, ecologies and space.
Writing and criticism
I love writing about the arts, and I’m a staunch believer that good criticism, in all its forms, is necessary for a healthy arts ecosystem / good arts social infrastructure. I’ve been publishing consistently in this area for over a decade. Some of my recent work includes:
… “Back to the Future: Spaceships, Tōtara, and the Christchurch Performing Arts Precinct” – a very frustrated essay on (lost) opportunities rebuilding arts infrastructure in post-quake Christchurch, in response to a decision by the Christchurch City Council about fund allocation the proposed Performing Arts Precinct (with follow up interviews on RNZ);
… long-form review essays for the excellent digital arts and culture journal Pantograph Punch, including big productions of Uncle Vanya and Steel Magnolias, a new musical called The Things Between Us, the tongue-in-cheek utopian throwback Erewhon Revisted, and the film The Love Witch;
… a slurry of editorials, interviews, contributions to festival coverage, end of year reviews, and round ups of theatre and film for a range of outlets, including Pantograph Punch, the Playmarket Annual, RNZ National, the Christchurch City Libraries, and The Press / Stuff.co.nz / The Sunday Star Times;
… something like 150 reviews of all manner of shows – large, small, touring, local, theatre, dance, Shakespeare, comedy, cabaret, musical, avant-garde – for New Zealand performing arts review site Theatreview;
… and reviews of film and the performing arts on various RNZ National shows, and local independent stations rdu 98.5fm, Plains FM, and others.
Talks and appearances
In recent years I have given a variety of public talks and keynotes, including sessions on the appeal of horror, how to use ‘creepypasta’ in an educational setting, the changing face of the ‘final girl’, aging women in horror and ‘hagsploitation’, gendered advertising, and witches in pop culture.
I’ve appeared as an expert or a talking head, sometimes accidentally, on a variety of theatre and horror related topics, in print, on TV and on air. If you need some Hallowe’en or horror commentary, I am happy to oblige.
I often feature as a panelist, chair and moderator on public and festival panels, including film, literary and arts festivals. Recent events include panels about attitudes towards death and dying in New Zealand, the role of public intellectuals, arts critics and criticism, feminist performance art, canonicity and culture, women in film industries, popular feminism, palliative care, gender and food histories, whiteness and class in the work of Cindy Sherman, and more.
If you’d like to know more, please get in touch!