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Final Call for Contributors (2/1/17 Abstracts; 8/1/17 Essays)

Horror by the Book: Monstrous Manuscripts, Sacred Scrolls, and Illuminated Evil on Screen

Nothing, seemingly, could be more innocuous—less threatening—than a book, but those steeped in the world of horror films know better.  Dusty tomes can harbor the souls of the dead, steal the souls of the living, or call forth the undead to walk the Earth. Spell books, passed down through generations of witches and warlocks, give those who read from them the power to bend the fabric of reality itself.  The lost scriptures of ancient religions drive non-believers mad, and unleash powerful demons or long-banished elder gods onto an unsuspecting world. Even in stories told on screens in moving images, the book remains a cornerstone of horror.

This collection focuses on genre horror films in which books—manuscripts, diaries, scrolls, sacred texts, chronicles, books of spells, etc. — play an active, material role in the story. The volume will explore the ways in which these texts shape and drive the horror of their narratives, asking new, incisive questions about the ways in which books function as warnings, guides, portals, prisons, and manifestations of the monstrous, as well as the ways in which those texts further the idea of the book as a timeless container of horrors, mysteries, hidden histories, and knowledge beyond human comprehension.

We seek proposals for intelligent, accessible chapters–rigorous scholarship and innovative ideas expressed in clear, vigorous, jargon-free prose—that examine and critically analyze the book as it is portrayed in the horror genre across a range of films and eras.  Proposals for both topical essays and close readings of a single text are welcome. Proposals on films produced outside the US are very welcome. Previously unpublished work only, please.

Possible themes include, but are not limited to:

* Books of the Dead
* Books of spells as witches’ and warlocks’ tools
* Books as containers for evil entities
* Books as portals to other worlds
* Cursed or enchanted books
* Holy Books of “elder gods”
* Books that summon demons
* Characters entrapped in books
* Books of lost (or hidden) wisdom
* Bibles and anti-Bibles

Work on topics focused on authors or the writing process, rather than their texts (such as The Shining, 1408, or Sinister), or in which the horror is only tangentially related to the book or its contents (such as Misery) fall outside the scope of this project.

Please send your 500-word abstract to both co-editors, Cindy Miller ( and Bow Van Riper (

Publication Timetable:

Abstracts – Feb. 1, 2017
First Drafts – Aug. 1, 2017
Revisions – Nov. 15, 2017
Submission – Jan. 15, 2018

Acceptance will be contingent upon the contributors’ ability to meet these deadlines, and to deliver professional-quality work.  Contributors who, without prior arrangement, do not submit their initial draft by the deadline will, regrettably, be dropped from the project.