Spectres des monstres: Post-postmodernisms, hauntology and creepypasta narratives as digital fiction

ONDRAK, Joe (2018). Spectres des monstres: Post-postmodernisms, hauntology and creepypasta narratives as digital fiction. Horror Studies, 9 (2), 161-178.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.1386/host.9.2.161_1


Horror has always been adaptable to developments in media and technology; this is clear in horror tales from Gothic epistolary novels to the 'found footage' explosion of the early 2000s via phantasmagoria and chilling radio broadcasts such as Orson Welles' infamous War of the Worlds (1938). It is no surprise, then, that the firm establishment of the digital age (i.e. the widespread use of Web2.0 spaces the proliferation of social media and its integration into everyday life) has created venues not just for interpersonal communication, shared interests and networking but also the potential for these venues to host a new type of horror fiction: creepypasta. However, much of the current academic attention enjoyed by digital horror fiction and creepypasta has focused on digital media's ability to remediate a 'folk-like' storytelling style and an emulation of word-of-mouth communication primarily associated with urban legends and folk tales. Here, I intend to argue that creepypasta should primarily be considered a form of digital fiction due to its ability to spread narratives in a way distinct to digital textuality and intrinsically linked to the affordances of digital media. In this article, I will treat creepypasta narratives as a genre specific to the form of digital fiction – specifically a 'fourth generation' of digital fiction – in which 'the [social media] platform is a significant part of the aesthetic expression and the meaning potential' of these stories. I will argue that the affordances of social media, and the way in which they are taken advantage of by creepypasta narratives situate the phenomenon as an example of post-postmodern storytelling that embodies traits of Jeffrey Nealon's 'Post-postmodernism', Alan Kirby's 'Digimodernism' and Timotheus Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker's 'Metamodernism'. I will suggest that this postpostmodern cultural turn works hand in hand with the resurgence of a cultural 'hauntology' to coalesce in creepypasta as a unique type of text. While creepypasta's hauntological qualities have previously been noted by Line Henriksen, this article will explore a relationship between creepypasta and post-postmodernism that has not yet been acknowledged. Ultimately, I will attest that the above theories describe (sometimes overlapping) symptoms of an emerging cultural period that relate to creepypasta's meaning potential and its formal and aesthetic properties. Observations from all three theories of a post-postmodern age coalesce in creepypasta narratives, from the specific qualities of digital textuality and the unique properties of different social media platforms on which these narratives are hosted (YouTube, Reddit, webforums and so on) to the metatextuality of creepypasta works and how they depart from and retain a dialogue with postmodern horror narratives. While the cultural landscape is still in flux and what will come after postmodernism has yet to be determined, creepypasta narratives tell us that a post-postmodern age has already arrived.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: ** From Crossref via Jisc Publications Router **Journal IDs: pissn 2040-3275
Uncontrolled Keywords: Literature and Literary Theory, Visual Arts and Performing Arts, Music
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1386/host.9.2.161_1
Page Range: 161-178
SWORD Depositor: Margaret Boot
Depositing User: Margaret Boot
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2019 14:24
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 03:31
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/23603

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