Something Wyrd: Folk Horror, Folklore and British Television

RODGERS, Diane (2018). Something Wyrd: Folk Horror, Folklore and British Television. In: Centre for Contemporary Legend Inaugural Symposium, Sheffield Hallam University, 15 Nov 2018. Centre for Contemporary Legend Research Group. (Unpublished)

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Television schedules in 1970s Britain were so full of with stories involving folkloric narratives featuring paganism, witchcraft, stone circles and ghosts that such tales account for many hundreds of hours of programming. These often eerie series, episodes and teleplays had lasting effects on audiences and on makers of film and television today like Ben Wheatley (Kill List, 2011) Mark Gatiss (The Tractate Middoth, 2013) and Jeremy Dyson (Ghost Stories, 2017) whose work often distinctly references British 1970s television. My research examines how folklore is communicated in British television during the 1970s and the reasons for its continued impact. Television narratives like these are now beginning to be widely referred to as 'folk horror', coined in 2003 by director Piers Haggard to describe his film Blood on Satan's Claw (1971). Haggard's film is now canonised as one of the 'holy triumvirate' of folk-horror films alongside Witchfinder General (1968) and The Wicker Man (1973). A revival of interest in them and other, related media texts has gained 'folk horror' (and what I refer to as the 'wyrd') status as a subgenre and increasing attention from both cult and academic audiences alike. However, two elements have yet to gain much serious academic attention to date: the importance of television folk horror and the folklore of folk horror. I consider the importance of how "mass media contributes to the maintenance and creation of folklore" (Schenda, 1992: 29), examining television as a form of mass-mediated folklore: what folkloric tropes and legends were propagated by British 1970s television, how they were portrayed and why they have had significant impact and influence on future generations of media creators. Combining folkloristics with screen studies, I propose to highlight the significance of television in the communication of folklore and how this continues to affect the cultural development of folklore.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Keynote)
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2019 14:56
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 06:36

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