Millennial ghosts and folk-horror legends: haunted by British 1970s television

RODGERS, Diane (2017). Millennial ghosts and folk-horror legends: haunted by British 1970s television. In: Fear 2000: Horror Media Now, Sheffield,UK, 21-22 Apr 2017. (Unpublished)

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Prominent purveyors of British millennial film and television folk-horror are doing so with distinct reference to British 1970s media; their work is informed by pastoral settings and folkloric themes of the past. Folk-horror legend can range widely from witches and covens, pagan ritual and hauntings, to stone circles and sinister villages within a peculiarly English landscape, all of which resonate with British national identity and related fears. All these themes occur frequently in British television of the 1970s and are seeing strong revival in the post-2000 folk-horror resurgence. This paper will use the 2005-onward revival of the BBC Ghost Story for Christmas tradition (a festive staple in TV schedules throughout the 1970s) and the representation of the ghost-as-monster as a link to and textual comparison with television of the 1970s. The most recent offering in the Ghost Story series, The Tractate Middoth (2013), seems an attempt to recapture particular qualities of 1970s television itself which directly influences this resurgence; as writer-director Mark Gatiss states: "Something I always loved about the seventies… [Ghost Stories] is that they're … very impressionistic and I wanted to achieve something like that." (BFIEvents, 2014). With reference to the depiction of ghost-as-monster in other examples of post-2000 British television (e.g. Midwinter of the Spirit, 2015, The Living and the Dead, 2016, The Enfield Haunting, 2015; the latter itself based on infamous 1970s events), this paper will therefore consider to what extent current British folk horror creators are influenced by 1970s folk horror, alongside television itself as ostensive action; applying Mikel Koven's theory of mass-mediated ostension to examine the medium itself as modern folklore, not only perpetuating such legends but also specific ways of telling those legends within the television medium.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2019 16:08
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 06:25

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