early modern horror

Every confrontation with horror is, in essence, a confrontation with the unknown. In that same instance, it is also a confrontation with representation, with an image—a fiction—that is placed before the spectator’s gaze, which nevertheless demands an embodied and even visceral response from the viewer as if it were real. Bringing together an abiding concern for what Noel Carroll defined as ‘art-horror’ and what Linda Williams referred to as ‘the frenzy of the visible’, this conference will consider the way sixteenth- and seventeenth-century audiences grappled with unknown entities and territories through the very process of representation. Forcing ourselves to look with critical attention at early modern representations of horror—works specifically designed to elicit fright, confusion, terror, pity, and/or pain from the spectator—speakers will push beyond the staid clichés about the Renaissance as a period of extraordinary beauty and order, as the first stop on the heroic telos to the equally problematic ‘Enlightenment’ and turn instead to embrace a messier, murkier, experimental, and experiential history of the period. Focus will be placed on the status of representation in a historical moment before the imposition of Art and Science as twin systems of rationalization and containment.


Please note that seats are limited, tickets (£10/£5 students - payable at the door with reservation) can be reserved in advance: m.loh@ucl.ac.uk

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Early Modern Horror poster

Refreshments will be served from 4.00-4.30 and a reception will follow after the last session...