Miskatonic NYC Announces Spring 2018 Lineup

The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies-NYC returns in January 2018 for another semester of classes on horror topics both iconic and arcane from some of the genre’s most brilliant and challenging critical voices.

We begin January 9th with Sukhdev Sandhu’s Sacred Disobedience, a class on Alan Clarke and David Rudkin’s Penda’s Fen (1974), an extraordinary piece of folk horror and a visionary film that is almost a foundational text in the pantheon of The Old Weird Albion. Following that on February 13th, Dianca London Potts’ Black Horror: The Revolutionary Act of Subverting the White Gaze examines how tales of hauntings, demonic possession, vampirism, and hoodoo rituals gone awry have become a celluloid metaphor for colonization and racism’s toll on the Black psyche – and what stories can be told when the white gaze is decentered. On March 13th Kristopher Woofter joins us from Montreal for Shirley Jackson’s Weird, a journey through the haunted spaces of Jackson’s work, from controversial short story “The Lottery” to her uncanny house trilogy (The Sundial, The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle) and more. On April 10th, Rémy Bennett brings us LA Despair: Chasing Death with John Gilmore, a multimedia presentation exploring the life and work of the late Noir and true crime writer John Gilmore that is a meditation on the relationship between pop cultural crime landmarks in the past century and celebrity iconography viewed amidst the landscape of the tragedies he chronicled. And we close out the semester on May 8th with a class from Vinegar Syndrome co-founder Joe Rubin addressing the basic issues and challenges associated with film preservation, with a specific focus on issues most common to genre films. Full class descriptions follow below.

About the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies:
Named for the fictional university in H.P. Lovecraft’s literary mythos, The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies is an international organization that was founded by film writer/programmer Kier-La Janisse in March of 2010 and now has branches in London and New York. Miskatonic NYC operates under the co-direction of Kier-La Janisse and Joe Yanick.

For further information, images or interview requests, please contact publicist Kaila Hier at Kaila.s.hier@gmail.com

Info:

The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies – NYC
Dates: January 9, February 13, March 13, April 10, May 8
Time: 7:00pm-9:30pm
Venue: Film Noir Cinema
Address: 122 Meserole, Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Prices: $12 advance / $15 on the door / Full Season Pass $55 USD (passes available on our registration page HERE)
Website: www.miskatonic-nyc.com
Join our Mailing List HERE
Follow us on Twitter at @MiskatonicIHS

 

FULL CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:

January 9: SACRED DISOBEDIENCE: ON PENDA’S FEN
Instructor: Sukhdev Sandhu

Named after the last pagan king of England, David Rudkin/ Alan Clarke’s Penda’s Fen (1974) is deep heresy, an extraordinary piece of folk horror, a visionary film that is almost a foundational text in the pantheon of The Old Weird Albion. A clergyman’s son – agonistically, ecstatically – has his personal armour stripped away: parentage, nationality, sexuality, patriotism. He has encounters with an angel, a demon, the ghost of Edward Elgar, the crucified Jesus, and Penda himself. A radical archaeology of Deep England and a praise-song to anarchist transformation, it culminates with the most euphoric revelation in British cinema: “My race is mixed. My sex is mixed. I am woman and man, light with darkness, nothing pure.”

Only recently exhumed after having been out of circulation for forty years, Penda’s Fen has lost none of its power to bewitch and ensorcel. This illustrated talk by Sukhdev Sandhu, editor of The Edge Is Where The Centre Is, a limited-edition art book on the film, will explore its topographies and febrile contexts – experimental public broadcasting, avant-garde arcadias, the rural uncanny, a mid-70s Britain that teetered on the brink of civil war, the rise of eldritch England.

About the Instructor:
Sukhdev Sandhu runs the Colloquium for Unpopular Culture at New York University where he is also Director of the Center for Experimental Humanities and teaches classes on hydropoetics, ghosts and sound art. His books include London Calling (2003), I’ll Get My Coat (2005), Night Haunts (2007), and Other Musics (2016). A former Critic of the Year at the British Press Awards, he writes for The Guardian, The Wire, Frieze, Sight and Sound, Bidoun, and Suddeutsche Zeitung. He makes radio documentaries for the BBC and runs the publishing imprint Texte und Töne.

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February 13: BLACK HORROR: THE REVOLUTIONARY ACT OF SUBVERTING THE WHITE GAZE
Instructor: Dianca London Potts

From Spencer Williams’ Son of Ingagi to Jordan Peele’s Get Out, the cinematic screen has consistently served as a site of subversion for filmmakers of the African diaspora. Through the camera’s lens, tales of hauntings, demonic possession, vampirism, and hoodoo rituals gone awry have become a celluloid metaphor for colonization and racism’s toll on the Black psyche. Within this space, expressions of Black embodiment and the Black experience are momentarily freed from the limitations the white gaze. The narrative shifts, allowing for the complexity and depth of Black identity and its subsequent anxieties, fears, and vulnerabilities to be examined outside the constraints of traditional tropes.

Whether it’s Blaxploitation classics like Blacula and Sugar Hill, or successors like Spike Lee’s Da Sweet Blood of Jesus and the aforementioned Get Out, Black horror films are a historically visual mode of resistance within a pervasively supremacist culture. Rather than being sacrificial lambs, wise sages, or saviors to non-POC protagonists, Black characters within this context determine their goals and desires in opposition to whiteness rather than their proximity to it.  William Crain’s Prince Mamuwalde becomes the immortal Blacula, Ben — the sole Black character depicted in George Romero’s cult classic Night of the Living Dead —becomes a hero. Jordan Peele’s Chris becomes a survivor. Within this narrative context, the off-screen script is flipped. The marginalized aren’t merely centered, they’re canonized.

This multimedia presentation will offer an immersive thematic overview of Black horror narratives while highlighting noteworthy films within the genre spanning the early 1900s to modern day. Select films will be paired with excerpts of literary, sociological, and philosophical texts to enhance students understanding of the cinematic genre and its radical roots. Through visual, cultural, and historical exploration, this presentation aims to examine and foster dialogue about what happens when subjection is subverted and what stories can be told when the white gaze is decentered.

About the Instructor:
Dianca London Potts earned her MFA in fiction from The New School. She is a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow, a VONA Voices alumna, and the online editor of Well-Read Black Girl. Her words have been featured in Lenny Letter, The Village Voice, Vice, and elsewhere. Her memoir, Planning for the Apocalypse, is forthcoming from 37 Ink. She currently works and resides in Brooklyn.

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March 13: SHIRLEY JACKSON’S WEIRD
Instructor: Kristopher Woofter

This class is devoted to the work of the reclusive Vermont author whose brutal short story, “The Lottery,” still holds the record for the most letters of protest sent to The New Yorker for publishing it. Come along with instructor Kristopher Woofter as we walk through the haunted spaces of Jackson’s four major works: THE LOTTERY AND OTHER STORIES (1949), and her “uncanny house trilogy,” THE SUNDIAL (1958), THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE (1959), and WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE (1962). A bestseller in her time, and a major influence on authors like Stephen King and Joyce Carol Oates, Jackson’s work has gone relatively unacknowledged by scholarship that relegates her to obscurity. Jackson’s body of work varied from domestic satire in her darkly humorous memoirs RAISING DEMONS and LIFE AMONG THE SAVAGES), to young-adult fiction (THE WITCHCRAFT OF SALEM VILLAGE), to uncanny psychological studies (THE ROAD THROUGH THE WALL, THE BIRD’S NEST), to her most popular work in the realm of horror and the weird.  This class brings Jackson back to acknowledge her place as one of America’s—and without question one of horror’s—greatest writers.

About the Instructor:
Kristopher Woofter teaches courses on the American Gothic, the Weird tradition, and literary and cinematic horror in the English Department of Dawson College, Montréal. He earned his PhD from Concordia University. He is co-editor of the upcoming collection, Joss Whedon vs. Horror: Fangs, Fans and Genre in Buffy and Beyond (I.B. Tauris). Kristopher is also a programmer for the Montréal Underground Film Festival and served for ten years as a co-chair for the Horror Area of the PCA/ACA annual national conference.

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April 10: LA DESPAIR: CHASING DEATH WITH JOHN GILMORE
Instructor: Rémy Bennett

LA Despair: Chasing Death with John Gilmore is a multimedia presentation exploring the life and work of the late Noir and true crime writer John Gilmore that is a meditation on the relationship between pop cultural crime landmarks in the past century and celebrity iconography viewed amidst the landscape of the tragedies he chronicled. A Los Angeles Native born in 1935 to a homicide detective and a bit player for RKO pictures, Gilmore was as authentically hard boiled as they come, destined to document all that seethed within the underbelly of Tinseltown and the American desolation beyond from his uniquely informed firsthand accounts.

Unearthing what is lurking in the shadows of the American dream-cum-nightmare by holding a mirror up to our morbid obsessions with fame and failure is at the center of Gilmore’s singular artistic career inhabited by subjects he crossed paths with ranging from Marilyn Monroe to Charles Manson. In the 1950s as a young actor and greaser, Gilmore was a member of “Night Watch”, the infamous biker gang led by James Dean and it was their deeply personal and troubled friendship that entrenched him deeper into the tragic rise and fall of the desperate figures surrounding him. His talent for mining the very darkest regions of the human soul is strikingly evident in the book that solidified him as a professional writer, Cold Blooded: The Tucson Murders based upon the factual account of his relationship with the 1960s Rockabilly “thrill killer” from Tucson, Arizona, Charles Schmidt who murdered teenage girls and buried them in the desert in the 1960s. In his pulp noir chronicle La Despair: A Landscape of Crimes and Bad Times Gilmore documents the rise and fall of movie stars, porn actors, hustlers, killers, and fame seekers whose self-destruction, insecurity, and greed devour and transform them into what Gilmore called the personification of the “LA Mutant”. Arguably the most stunning and indelible journalistic feats of Gilmore’s career is, Severed: The True Story Of The Black Dahlia Murder which documents with sympathy and dread the ill-fated life and enigmatic death of his first love, Elizabeth Short.

LA Despair: Chasing Death With John Gilmore is an experience that takes its participants on a “Hollywood Death Trip” that follows the trail of subversion and intimate insight that John Gilmore left behind after his death, delving into the obsessions and passions that fueled him while charting the sordid history of the city of fallen stars that birthed him, in all the mystery and allure of its glitter and doom.

About the Instructor:
Rémy Bennett is a filmmaker, writer, and curator living in New York City. She earned her BA in acting and drama studies from The Central School of Speech and Drama in London and studied film at SVA in New York. Her feature film debut Buttercup Bill was shown at Raindance, The New Orleans Film Festival, and The Marfa Film Festival and she recently completed a documentary series called Under Her Skin for the all-female led media company The Front. Her short film Eat Me and installation about a female serial killer/web cam girl that showed at The SPRING/BREAK art fair was voted as one of the top 10 shows to see at Armory Week in 2016 W Magazine and Gothamist, along with the group show GLORY HOLY that she curated along with her sister. Bennett has contributed as an artist and writer to PLAYBOY, 1985ARTISTS, VICE, and BUST MAGAZINE, and has most recently curated a film series at The Roxy Hotel Cinema called GRIT & GORE: NYC HORROR which featured artist talks with Larry Fessenden, William Lustig, Frank Henenlotter, and Roberta Findlay.

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May 8: PRESERVING GENRE FILM AT VINEGAR SYNDROME
Instructor: Joe Rubin

Led by Joe Rubin, the co-founder of Vinegar Syndrome – an acclaimed film restoration and distribution company with an emphasis on horror, exploitation and adult films – this class will discuss the basic issues and challenges associated with film preservation, with a specific focus on issues most common to genre films. Topics shall include film decay and restorative processes, format specific preservation techniques, the role of home video in the preservation of genre films, viewer expectations in the digital age, as well as a general overview of the methodologies by which Vinegar Syndrome selects films for restoration and release.

About the Instructor:
Joe Rubin is a film collector and programmer who founded Vinegar Syndrome with Ryan Emerson in 2012.

 

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