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Beyond psychoanalysis: Post-millennial horror film and affect theory

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This article suggests the possibility that psychoanalytic frameworks may prove insufficient to apprehend the workings of post-millennial horror. Through a sustained exploration of how affect theory may be applied to horror, and, more specifically, how it may exceed cognitivism in favour of an understanding of the genre founded on Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of the ‘body without organs’, I consider the implications of a new theoretical approach that accounts for the popularity of films such as Saw (Wan, 2004) and Hostel (Roth, 2005). The article proceeds by considering how psychoanalysis offers limited help in the study of a form of horror that appeals directly to the somatic body. It then considers the potential benefits of a theory that acknowledges its viscerality and its recent three-dimensional investments.

Keywords: Deleuze; affect theory; bodies; cognitivism; post-millennial horror; torture-horror; viscerality

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Lancaster University

Publication date: September 26, 2012

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  • Horror Studies intends to serve the international academic community in the humanities and specifically those scholars interested in horror. Exclusively examining horror, this journal will provide interested professionals with an opportunity to read outstanding scholarship from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including work conceived as interdisciplinary. By expanding the conversation to include specialists concerned with diverse historical periods, varied geography, and a wide variety of expressive media, this journal will inform and stimulate anyone interested in a wider and deeper understanding of horror
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