Posted on July 21, 2023

American Folk Horrors – Call for Papers (Edited Collection)

Call for Papers/ Dawn Keetley


Edited by Dawn Keetley

Abstracts due: October 29, 2023

There has been a veritable outpouring of both popular and academic writing on folk horror in the wake of folk horror’s resurgence in the post-2009 period. The last three years, for instance, has seen an excellent, comprehensive documentary film, Kier-La Janisse’s Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror (2021); a special issue of the journal Revenant: Critical and Cultural Studies of the Supernatural (2020) dedicated to folk horror (with a special issue of Horror Studies in the works); and four collections of scholarly essays either just published or forthcoming in 2023 (see Bacon; Bayman and Donnelly; Edgar and Johnson; and Keetley and Heholt).

While Janisse’s documentary devotes a significant length of time to American folk horror and at least two of the academic collections include a handful of essays on the topic, the overwhelming focus of this scholarship has been British folk horror. This is not surprising, of course, since the articulation of folk horror as either a genre or a literary and cinematic form emerged from writers’ engagement with specifically British folk horror (see, e.g., Macfarlane, Beem and Paciorek, Newland, Scovell, Cowdell, Rodgers, Thurgill, Chambers, and Luckhurst). In a self-perpetuating feedback loop, definitions of folk horror that center British texts inevitably render British texts more visible as folk horror.

This collection of essays will join the scattered critical essays that address American folk horror and will enter the conversation about distinctive ‘American’ folk horror traditions.[1] Crucially, ‘American’ will be interpreted as broadly as possible, to consider the variegated traditions of folk horrors in the Americas (Canada, Mexico and Central and South America). The collection will also take up the ways in which ‘American’ folk horror inevitably has global tentacles, as other national folk horror productions become critical to the American tradition and the American culture industry shapes other national folk horror productions. Of particular interest are essays that theorize folk horror in light of: Indigeneity, settler-colonialism, migration, displacement, diasporas, uneven economic development, race, class, borders, land, ecologies, and climate – although all approaches are welcome. The collection will consider all media: literature, film, television, streaming, digital media, video games etc.

Please send an abstract of around 250 words and a 150-word bio to Dawn Keetley at by October 29, 2023. Acceptances will be sent out within three weeks, and essays of around 6,000 words will be due May 13, 2024. I do have a publisher interested in the proposal. Please feel free to send along any inquiries at any time. You can email me or message me on Facebook or Twitter.

**Interest in this call for papers has been such that I’m thinking also of devoting a special issue of Horror Homeroom (see tab on far right) to American Folk Horror. These essays would be shorter (2,500 words) and for a more general audience. When you submit your abstract, you can indicate if you’d prefer that format!


[1] For some essays on American folk horror, see essays in the special issue of Revenant by Beth Kattelman (on Winter’s Bone), Peter Turner (on Blair Witch), Brendan C. Walsh (on The VVitch), and Alexandra Hauke (on John Langan’s The Fisherman); essays in Keetley and Heholt, eds. Folk Horror by Jeffrey A. Tolbert, Ian Brodie, Bernice M. Murphy, Valeria Villegas Lindvall, and Dawn Keetley; essays in the forthcoming Bacon, ed., Future Folk Horror by Brandon R. Grafius, Paul A. J. Lewis, Connor McAleese, Kingsley Marshall, Danielle Garcia-Carr, and M. Keith Booker; as well as Budzinski; Brooks; and Murphy.

Bibliography (always evolving)

Bacon, Simon, ed., Future Folk Horror: Contemporary Anxieties and Possible Futures, Lexington Books, forthcoming, July 2023.

Bayman, Louis, and Donnelly, K. J., eds., Folk Horror on Film: Return of the British Repressed, Manchester University Press, forthcoming, October 2023.

Beem, Katherine, Paciorek, Andy, et al., Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies, Wyrd Harvest Press, 2015.

Brodie, Ian, “‘Wow, this place is spooky at night! Suburban Ennui, Legend Quests and What Folk Horror Shares with Scooby-Doo,” Keetley and Heholt, Folk Horror, pp. 75-90.

Brooks, Kinitra, Searching for Sycorax: Black Women’s Hauntings of Contemporary Horror, Rutgers University Press, 2017. (See chapter 4, “Folkloric Horror: A New Way of Reading Black Women’s Creative Horror,” pp. 95-126.)

Budzinski, Nathaniel, “‘It’s All an Indian Burial Ground’: Folk Horror Cinema’s Reckoning with Colonial Violence,” ArtReview, 10 December 2021.

Chambers, Jamie, “Troubling Folk Horror: Exoticism, Metonymy, and Solipsism in the ‘Unholy Trinity’ and Beyond,” JCMS: Journal of Cinema and Media Studies 61:2 (Winter 2022): 9-34.

Cowdell, Paul, “‘Practising Witchcraft Myself During the Filming’: Folk Horror, Folklore, and the Folkloresque,” Western Folklore 78:4 (Fall 2019): 295-326.

Edgar, Robert, and Johnson, Wayne, eds., The Routledge Companion to Folk Horror, Routledge, forthcoming, 2023.

Hauke, Alexandra, “Dreaming of Leviathan: John Langan’s The Fisherman and American Folk Horror,” Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural 5 (March 2020): 167-94.

Horror Studies, special issue on folk horror, edited by Dawn Keetley and Jeffrey A. Tolbert, forthcoming fall 2023.

Janisse, Kier-La, Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror, USA: Severin Films, 2022.

Kattelman, Beth, “Folk Horror in the Ozarks: The Genre Hybridity of Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone,” Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural 5 (March 2020): 109-28.

Keetley, Dawn, “Defining Folk Horror,” Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural 5 (March 2020): 1-32.

Keetley, Dawn, “Forms of Folk Horror in Halloween III: Season of the Witch,” Journal of American Culture 45:4 (December 2022): 373-85.

Keetley, Dawn, “Sacrifice Zones in Appalachian Folk Horror,” Keetley and Heholt, Folk Horror, pp. 245-61.

Keetley, Dawn, “True Detective’s Folk Gothic,” in Justin Edwards, Rune Graulund and Johan Höglund (eds), Dark Scenes from Damaged Earth: The Gothic Anthropocene, University of Minnesota Press, 2022, pp. 130-50. (Open Access)

Keetley, Dawn, and Heholt, Ruth, Folk Horror: New Global Pathways, University of Wales Press, 2023.

Lindvall, Valeria Villegas, “Me quitarán de quererte, Llorona, pero de olividarte nunca’: La Llorona, Colonial Trauma and Mexicanness,” Keetley and Heholt, Folk Horror, pp. 229-42.

Luckhurst, Roger, “Brexitland’s Dark Ecologies,” Textual Practice 36:5 (2022): 711-31.

Macfarlane, Robert, “The Eeriness of the English Countryside,” The Guardian, 10 April 2105.

McDonald, Keith, and Wayne Johnson, Contemporary Gothic and Horror Film: Transnational Perspectives, Anthem Press, 2021. (See chapter 3, “Folk in Hell: Rurality in Transition,” pp. 57-79.)

Murphy, Bernice M., “Black Boxes: Tradition and Human Sacrifice in American Folk Horror,” Keetley and Heholt, Folk Horror, pp. 127-40.

Murphy, Bernice M., “Folk Horror,” in Stephen Shapiro and Mark Storey (eds), The Cambridge Companion to American Horror, Cambridge University Press, 2022, pp. 139-53.

Newland, Paul, “Folk Horror and the Contemporary Cult of British Rural Landscape: The Case of Blood on Satan’s Claw,” in Paul Newland (ed.), British Landscapes on Film, Manchester University Press, 2016, pp. 162-79.

Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural, special issue on folk horror, edited by Dawn Keetley, 5 (2020).

Rodgers, Diane A., “Something ‘Wyrd’ This Way Comes: Folklore and British Television,” Folklore 130 (June 2019): 133-52.

Scovell, Adam, Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange, Auteur, 2017.

Thurgill, James, “A Fear of the Folk: On topophobia and the Horror of Rural Landscapes,” Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural 5 (March 2020): 33-56.

Tolbert, Jeffrey A., “The Frightening Folk: An Introduction to the Folkloresque in Horror,” Keetley and Heholt, Folk Horror, pp. 25-41.

Turner, Peter, “Supernatural Folklore in the Blair Witch Films: New Project, New Proof,” Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural 5 (March 2020): 129-43.

Walsh, Brendan C., “Colonising the Devil’s Territories: The Historicity of Providential New England Folklore in The VVitch,” Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural 5 (March 2020): 144-66.

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