Disability in Contemporary Horror Film

Horror movies have long exploited ableist representations of disability. The genre's monsters are often violent, threatening, or vengeful creatures with histories of trauma, disordered minds, or physical deformity, while the genre's defining affects—horror, disgust, and fear—are tied to reductive, misleading, and negative disability images and stories. 
Please join us for a two-part event on Wednesday, May 22, with Prof. Angela Marie Smith (University of Utah) where she will discuss examples of recent horror films that continue this tradition, and other films that offer more complex imaginings of disability. Some of these texts foreground plucky disabled characters who survive traumatic experiences, and others envisage disabled communities in which shared vulnerability and openness to mutation enable human continuity.
Angela Marie Smith is Associate Professor of English and Gender Studies and director of Disability Studies at the University of Utah. Her research examines disability representation and affects in cinema, television, and online media. She is the author of Hideous Progeny: Disability, Eugenics, and Classic Horror Cinema (Columbia University Press, 2012). She has also published in journals such as Literature and Medicine, Post Script, and Antipodes and in edited collections such as  Monsters: A Companion (2020), Embodying Contagion (2021), The Routledge Companion to Gender and Affect (2022), and The Evolution of Horror in the 21st Century (2023). Dr. Smith is also the co-chair of her university’s Universal Design and Access Committee and co-organizer of the university’s Disability Collective, an employee disability affinity group.
Event: Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Part 1: 11am - 12:15pm - Please join Prof. Smith for a 40-minute discussion about Freaks (a 1932 feature film directed by Tod Borwning), followed by a Q&A. This discussion will a part of Prof. Catherine Nesci's course, Comparative Literature 60.
Part 2: 1pm - 2pm - Please joing Prof. Smith for a 30-minute talk on disability and contemporary horror studies, focusing on A Quiet Place (2018), and followed by a Q&A with the Disability Studies Initiative Group and the Graduate Center for Literary Research.
Location: Zoom - link TBA