The British Horror Film

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Current Announcements
  • The session on October 19 has to be canceled.


  • WS 18/19

Course Information

Nr. Kursbezeichnung Typ Zeit Raum DozentIn
154524 The British Horror Film 2 HS Fr 14:15 – 15:45 R. 3.206 Schmitt

Course Description

Writing in 2002, Steve Chibnall and Julian Petley introduce their essay collection on British Horror Cinema by lamenting the current state of British horror and its “pretty limited canon” (1). Throughout the last decades of the 20th century it seemed that the genre that had once flourished in the 1950s to 70s had lost its bite. Back then, the Hammer Studios produced a number of now classic gothic films and established actors Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing as some of the best-known faces in horror. After the comparable dearth of the 1980s and 1990s, however, British horror returned with a vengeance in the early 21st century. Films such as 28 Days Later (2002), Eden Lake (2008) and Mum & Dad (2008) resuscitated the genre in Britain by mostly abandoning the Victorian gothic of earlier periods for a more contemporary sensibility. The monsters in Britain’s new horror films do not reside in remote Transylvanian castles. Rather, they are the results of medical experiments gone wrong or live right next door, sporting sneakers and a hoodie. They are therefore expressive of the social anxieties of contemporary Britain, fuelled as much by the audience’s unconscious as by today’s Daily Mirror front page and David Cameron’s speeches.

In this seminar we will trace the development of the British horror film from the Hammer classics to today’s so-called “hoodie horror.” We will consider the films in their respective sociocultural contexts. This course is therefore designed to introduce students to the basics of film studies as well as to theories of horror.

Reading List

Suggestions for introductory reading:

  • Linnie Blake. The Wounds of Nations: Horror Cinema, Historical Trauma and National Identity. Manchester University Press, 2008.[UB: C 29978]
  • Steven Chibnall, Julian Petley (eds.). British Horror Cinema. Routledge, 2002. [UB: C 29976]
  • Adam Lowenstein. Shocking Representation: Historical Trauma, National Cinema, and the Modern Horror Film. Columbia University Press, 2005.
  • Johnny Walker. Contemporary British Horror Cinema: Industry, Genre and Society. Edinburgh University Press, 2016. [UB: C 29790]

Course Requirements

Requirements: regular attendance, writing assignments or presentations depending on your course of studies and participation in the “Frankenweek” (October 24-31) celebrating the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Please note that some of the films discussed in this seminar might be emotionally distressing for some viewers. It is the participants' responsibility to inform themselves about the films prior to the respective sessions (the list of films will be handed out in the first session) and to take care of their own emotional wellbeing.


Lehramtsstudiengänge: MA BML 2005:
  • 1302, 1303
LPO 2003:
  • GHR: 5c
  • GyGe: 7ab
  • SP1. Fach: 5c
  • SP2. Fach: 4b
  • BK: 7ab
LABG 2009:
  • G: 703, 704
  • HRG: 601, 1001
  • GyGe/BK: 601, 701, 702, 1001
  • SP: 703
LABG 2016:
  • G: 601, 703, 704
  • HRSGe: 601, 1001
  • GyGe/BK: 601, 701, 702, 1001
  • SP: 703
Angewandte Sprachwissenschaften/

Angewandte Literatur-/Kulturwissenschaften:

  • B.A.ALK: Kern: 6abc, 7bc, Komp: 3abc, 4a
  • B.A.AS: Kern: 6bc, Komp: 4a
  • M.A.ALK: 1abc, 2abc, 3bc
  • M.A.AS: 2ab
Angewandte Sprachwissenschaften/

Angewandte Literatur-/Kulturwissenschaften PO ab WS 16/17:

  • B.A.ALK: Kern: 6abc, 7bc, Komp: 3abcd, 4a
  • B.A.AS: Kern: 6bc, Komp: 4a
  • M.A.ALK: 1abcd, 2abc, 3bc
  • M.A.AS: 2ab