Here you can find a brief overview of recent research, arts writing and criticism, and public appearances. There is more specific information available on my UC Research Profile, which focuses on academic and outreach work.
My book Women, Monstrosity and Horror: Gynaehorror is published in Routledge’s Film Philosophy on the Margins series. 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.
Other recent 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, edited by Alison Peirse.
- “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 for the anthology Death and Dying in New Zealand on the tonal qualities of 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 in a manner that honours the dignity of the deceased and their family
Arts writing and criticism
I’ve been publishing consistently in this area for over a decade. Some of my recent work includes:
- arts criticism, such as “A network of networks built by believers that runs on belief”, an essay for HAMSTER, the experimental arts journal of the contemporary arts space The Physics Room. The piece is part criticism, part distracted hopping around on the internet, and part digital lament, all exploring our faith in the internet and its collected criticisms and thinking through ho strange it’s been like to experience the arts online during the pandemic. Don’t worry, there’s jokes. The issue is available in hard copy, pdf, a screen-reader friendly epub and as an audiobook edition, narrated by the contributors
- cultural criticism and commentary, including “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)
- short- and long-form arts reviews, such as this review of the Court Theatre’s production of Uncle Vanya, this piece on the limits of pastiche in the film The Love Witch, and this account of percussion ensemble From Scratch’s terrific performance of Pax Pacifica
- long-form book reviews, including this piece on Carl Nixon’s The Tally Stick
- … as well as a slurry of editorials, interviews, contributions to festival coverage, end of year reviews, critical commentary, and round ups of theatre and film for a range of outlets, including Pantograph Punch, the Playmarket Annual, The Spinoff, Bulletin, the Christchurch City Libraries, The Press / Stuff.co.nz / The Sunday Star Times, RNZ National, TV3, rdu98.5FM, Plains FM, BBC5, and a variety of podcasts
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 often feature as a panelist, chair and moderator at public events, and 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, the work of Shirley Jackson, and more.