The Gothic 1980s Symposium

By Sorcha Ní Fhlainn

The Gothic 1980s: The decade that scared us

Symposium on Saturday 8th June exploring The Gothic 1980s: The decade that scared us

Date: Saturday 8th June 2019

Time: 9am - 7pm (Full schedule and timings to be confirmed)

Location: Number 70 Oxford St, Manchester, M1 5NH

Tickets: £10, £5 concessions. Available here.

(Image from Shutterstock)

This symposium seeks to re-evaluate the Gothic mood and culture of the 1980s and the legacy of this decade in contemporary Gothic studies. While many disparage the decade as a period of soulless commercialism, avid consumerism and the decade that fashion forgot, the 1980s introduced new modes of communication, new commercial appreciation for Gothic and horror texts, and is now, in contemporary times, suffused with a sense of nostalgia. The seeds of discontent in our contentious and fractured present were sown in the 1980s, making it an important if divisive (and richly Gothic) decade. It is the decade of Threads, The Terminator, and Ghostbusters (all 1984); ‘stranger danger campaigns’, milk carton kids, and child abductions (Adam Walsh etc); media spectacle, 24 hour news cycles, and numerous ‘shocking’ TV specials; increased and explicit special FX in film and the popularity of ‘plastic reality’; the rise of censorship, the PG13 certificate, the Parental Advisory sticker, ‘video nasties’ and the 1984 Video Recordings Act. It is the last decade of the analogue era before the global advent of the internet. ‌


(Image from Shutterstock)

Conference Programme


9.00am - 9.30am  Registration and Welcome
09.30am –10:30am

Keynote:  Unpicking the Threads of a ‘Market in Anxiety’: 1980s Nuclear Gothic… Beyond Reflectionist Readings?Matt Hills, University of Huddersfield, UK. 

10:30am –11:00am


11.00am - 12.30pm

Concurrent Panels:

Panel  1a (LB.01):         1980s Nostalgia/ The 1980s Today

“The Power of Madonna Compels You!” Lost Girls and 1980s Nostalgia in My Best Friend's Exorcism – Máiréad Casey, National University of Ireland, GalwayIreland                                           

“Like home, but dark”: Stranger Things, contingent nostalgia and the deconstruction of Gothic America –Tracey Mollet, University of Leeds, UK.

Rewriting the 1980s: horror, childhood, and the uses of nostalgia –

Filipa Antunes, University of East Anglia, UK.

11.00am - 12.30pm  Panel  1b (LB.02):        1980s Hosts and TV Horrors

‘My Name’s Elvira, but you can call me “tonight”’: Elvira’s Feminist Camp – Thomas Brassington, Lancaster University, UK.

Freddy’s Nightmares (1988-1990) and the Anthology TV Horror Host in 1980s US Television

Thomas Wilson, University of Wolverhampton, UK.

From River’s Edge to Riverdale: Dead Bodies and Disaffected Teens – Laura Johnson, University of Manchester, UK.

12:30pm –1:30pm  

Lunch (provided)

1:30pm –3:00pm 

Concurrent Panel 2:

Panel  2a (LB.01)         Werewolves and  Vampires

The Year of the Werewolf: The Lycanthrope on Film in the Early 1980s – Carys Crossen, Independent Scholar

When Aliens meet Vampires:  Near Dark as Gothic Action Film – Stacey Abbott, University of Roehampton, UK.

“There is no straight when you’re 400 years old”: The Liminality of the 1980s Bisexual Vampire –Hayley Louise Charlesworth, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.

1:30pm –3:00pm 

Panel  2b (LB.02): 1980s Creations and Adaptations

'The (Invisible) Woman in Black: Adaptation, Gender and Nostalgia in Stage and Screen Revisions of Susan Hill's Ghost Novel' - Jeanette D'Arcy, University of South Wales, Wales.

Sometimes (Un)dead is Better: Pet Sematary (1989), Adaptation and Stephen King’s American Gothic – Simon Brown, Kingston University, London, UK.

Creation Myth: the imagining of the Gothic imagination in Gothic (1986), Haunted Summer (1988), and Remando al viento (1989) – Harvey O’Brien, University College Dublin, Ireland.

3:00pm – 3:30pm Coffee and Pastries
3:30pm – 5:30pm

Concurrent Panel 3:

Panel  3a: (LB.01)        Theorising the 1980s:  Satan, VHS, and Scholarship

Rethinking the Early 1980s: Beyond the Slasher Movie – Mark Jancovich, University of East Anglia, UK.

 ‘That’s why we give our sons to war, in the name of peace!’: Masculine Trauma and Occult Hysteria in The Believers (1987) – Charlotte Gough, Manchester Metropolitan University

‘Why are we wearing bras on our heads?’: Occult perceptions in the home video era – Noel Mellor, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.

“Satanic Worship, Nappies and Talk Shows - A Very Gothic Tale” – Sarah Cleary, Independent Scholar 

 3:30pm – 5:30pm  

Inter/National Gothic Cultures:

Panel  3b: (LB.02):

Estrela nua [naked star] and the Gothic pop in the Brazilian cinema at the 1980s - Laura Loguercio Cánepa, Anhembi Morumbi University, Brazil,and Leandro Cesar Caraça, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil, and Film Critic.

Sounds Like Murder:  Early ‘80s Gothic on North American Radio – Leslie McMurtry, University of Salford, UK.

Goth Subculture: The Friendly Ghost - Jenevieve Van-Veda, Independent Scholar

5:30pm – 6:30pm   Wine Reception and Book Launch
7:15pm – 9:00pm 

Screening: The Lost Boys (1987) LB.01. Tickets for this event must be booked separately on Eventbrite.

Book your ticket for this screening here



Contact Dr. Sorcha Ní Fhlainn, Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University at  if you have any queries related to the event.

(Image from Shutterstock)


Thanks to ongoing work, No. 70 spaces are considered accessible to visitors with additional access requirements once again. Please contact or ring 0161 247 6740 if you have any additional access requirements and would like any more information.

Gothic Studies