• Reading Folk Horror Through Nostalgia

    Derek Johnston (see profile)
    Cultural Studies, Film Studies, Horror, Television Studies
    Horror, Identity (Psychology), Culture
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    Genre / Nostalgia
    Conf. Org.:
    University of Hertfordshire
    Conf. Loc.:
    Conf. Date:
    5-6 January 2021
    Folk horror, nostalgia, Identity
    Permanent URL:
    This paper considers the use of Boym’s formulations of reflective and restorative nostalgia as a productive lens for viewing the tensions within folk horror texts and their appeals. Considering folk horror texts such as The Wicker Man, Midsommar and The Living and the Dead, the paper will demonstrate that Boym’s two conceptions help to draw out the different interpretations possible in these texts as they relate to conceptions of the past, and as those conceptions relate to ideas of our present and our future. The appeals of a ‘simpler’ rural life, more in touch with community and nature, are made clear in these productions, suggesting a restorative nostalgia that hopes to restore this traditional way of being (which may never have been). However, the horror aspect of folk horror shows that this way of being is dependent on blood and sacrifice, literally, and often at the expense of the outsider. Their nostalgic pleasures can thus be considered as ‘reflective’, encouraging us to consider the elements that we might like to try to bring back, while also acknowledging the elements that we wish to avoid. One of the interesting points with folk horror’s reception is how both readings can clearly be found in general discourse relating to individual texts, indicating that there is an ambivalence within the productions, and arguably within the genre itself. Boym’s concepts help us to understand how these two interpretations can exist together, and can help us understand our own relationships with the genre.
    Last Updated:
    3 years ago
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