Heather Lambert

Heather Lambert

A graduate student in English and Film Studies with a passion for pop culture. My interests especially lie in the bizarre and taboo: horror, religion, and the supernatural.

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Latest Articles

Latest Topics

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The Evolution of the Popular Monster

Monsters have greatly evolved in popularity throughout time. From the vampires of Dracula’s era to the witches of the 1990s to the zombies of the 2010s, we have seen certain monsters grow in popularity to reflect the social and political anxieties of their time. Create an outline of the recent history of monsters, and predict what types of monsters the current era will rely on for social critique and escapism.

  • I agree that there is an identifiable connection between the popularity of a particular monster and the society it is presented in. This topic will get a little tricky because of the diversity of our popular culture now so I would recommend picking a specific genre: tv, film, comic, or literature. Otherwise it will be hugely inaccurate. Part of what needs to be discussed here also is the particular representation of the type of monster, for instance vampires are presented in numerous ways that tend to be related to both a context and a social reflection, we seem to be slowly moving off the "sexy vampire" and back towards the "vicious monster" but it depends on where you are looking. A lot to talk about in this topic! – SaraiMW 2 weeks ago
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  • Would cyborgs fit in there, maybe around the 1980s to 1990s, with The Terminator and with Star Trek's The Borg? I agree with SaraiMW that focusing on one particular type of monster might make for a more focused and successful essay. – JamesBKelley 2 weeks ago
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  • Horror movies (and monster movies by extension) often carry the seeds of social commentary Reference the movies "Get Out". "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", the plethora of films that came out using the trope of cell phones turning people into zombies/crazed killers/possessed by ghosts. How do horror stories reflect the real fears of the society they arise out of? – Kidcanuck 1 week ago
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  • Yes, all of this! – ivyskiss 6 days ago
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Taken by ivyskiss (PM) 5 days ago.
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Where Are the Female Monsters?

With the recent release of The Shape of Water, we have been reminded of our love of monsters. But when it comes to them, they are so often male. While female monsters exist, they tend to be either human-coded (think recent vampires) or sexy (think mermaids). But where are the truly terrifying females? The closest I can personally come up with is the Other Mother from Coraline. You may explore the significance of what a female monster would bring to the table.

  • An interesting topic full of potential! I've always personally been fascinated by the idea of monstrosity and subversion, and more often than not, monsters, descended from myths and stories, reflect the fears and concerns of the age. Female monsters in general tend toward either the young and seductive (think Sirens, Medusa) or the old, haggard and mystical (Witches, Hags, Baba Yaga). I think these inclinations are worthy of exploration. Crash Course has an excellent overview of the latter in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OCPQG4bMFs. But most of all I do think its pertinent that there aren't too many contemporary versions of female monsters, and maybe the current social and political climate might play some part in that as well. But i like it! – Matchbox 2 weeks ago
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  • Have you considered perhaps widening the definition of 'monster' to include the monstrous? I've often felt that the most convincing monsters are found within the Far Eastern horror genre, i.e. Korean, Japanese, Pinoy etc. It's surprising how often these monsters are female, insofar as they assume a female human form, possess a human female or give the appearance of being female. The morality issue also seems to differ from western monsters and their actions, whilst often driven by the need for revenge or to avenge some perceived wrong doing, tend to orientated towards the ultimate redemption of the 'monster'. I'd recommend 'Audition' (1999), directed by Takashi Miike, 'The Doll Master' (2004), directed by Jeong Yong-ki and the infamous 'Ring' cycle of films, directed by Hideo Nakata. – Amyus 2 weeks ago
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  • I love this idea! I would also add that female(-coded) monsters are not only sexy, but that their monstrousness generally seems to arise precisely from the extent to which they are sexually attractive and the uninhibited, aggressive way in which they are able to display and pursue their sexual appetites. Female vampires, werewolves, demons, women with vagina dentata and so on seem to be so terrifying because they threaten dominant ideas of acceptable female existence and sexual conduct, namely that of submissiveness, deference and docility. – HangedMaiden 2 weeks ago
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  • Great topic. The egg-laying mama alien in the Alien films is pretty monstrous! – JamesBKelley 2 weeks ago
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  • Interesting topic, especially since I would argue we are conditioned to think of monsters as male from childhood. For example, Sesame Street played host to exclusively male-coded monsters for decades. The rationale was that they couldn't show a female-coded monster with extreme personality traits (e.g., Cookie Monster's obsession with cookies) without drawing the ire of feminist advocates. But I say that's baloney. Female monsters, such as Rosita and Zoe, were eventually added to the cast, but you'll notice they tend to act more human and far less neurotic than their male counterparts. While horror on Sesame is not kosher, male monsters are allowed to be a little scary or strange at times. Females are not. I've noticed some of the same trends in adult media as well. For instance, the "monster" behind the Hound of the Baskervilles was a male, and the hound itself was always referred to with male pronouns. Frankenstein and Dracula? Male again (more human-coded, but still). Werewolves? Overwhelmingly male (the one exception I can think of is Once Upon a Time's Ruby/Red). Aragog? Sauron? Gollum? Basilisks? Male, male, male...ugh, somebody get me some estrogen! And as you mention, if you do see a female monster of any kind, she's often motivated primarily by revenge, or is in a subservient role (see Voldemort's serpent Nagini). I'm with you--give me a female monster who poisons victims or rips their throat out just because hey, it's her idea of a good time! – Stephanie M. 2 weeks ago
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Taken by ivyskiss (PM) 1 week ago.
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Why Are So Many Gothic Stories Geared Towards/Concentrated on Children?

Coraline, IT, Stranger Things, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Babadook…the Gothic and horror genres appear to have a fascination with children. Does it stem from our primal instinct to protect our offspring from threat? Does it illustrate how our childish fears never really leave us? Also, are these texts really geared towards children, or to the adults watching with their children? Or both? So many questions with some possibly fascinating answers.

  • Great topic. There are a /lot/ of examples, including Henry James' long short story "The Turn of the Screw" or the film The Village of the Damned. My initial guess is that there's some sort of play on the oppositions of innocence and monstrosity. (Children can be at least a little monstrous in some ways. One of the characters in Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof calls the children in the play "no-neck monsters.") – JamesBKelley 4 months ago
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  • There's certainly an aspect of empowering, encouraging wish fulfillment in that the kids face the manifestations of their fears and defeat the nightmare monsters. – noahspud 3 months ago
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  • Another aspect might be the trope that children are more perceptive than adults, as in It, where only children can see Pennywise. – tedytak 2 weeks ago
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  • Love this topic, and the construct goes back a lot further than you think. The actual name escapes me, but there is an entire collection of ancient German stories, passed down through generations, that show disobedient children meeting horribly grim fates. You could start there, go into Grimm's Fairytales, and then discuss some of the other examples you mention (Coraline is a great one). You might also consider discussing some examples that aren't classic "horror," but do place children in significant and ongoing peril. The example that comes to my mind is Matilda, wherein the protagonist and her schoolmates are physically and emotionally tortured by an over-the-top headmistress. – Stephanie M. 2 weeks ago
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  • I, for one, was an angst child - partly due to the fact that I had absolutely no life experience. I loved horror, but didn't actually understand all of it. I grew up when I understood that horror and darkness exists everywhere. Especially in a dead end desk job. Those are the real goths. – nolarmade69 1 week ago
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  • Lemony Snicket immediately comes to mind, but I wonder if you could also talk about modern day spoofs? For instance Scooby Doo deals with a lot of traditional gothic elements but shows that monsters don't exist -- it is only humans that are monsters – Mela 1 week ago
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Taken by GabB (PM) 2 days ago.
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The Power of Storytelling as Presented in Life of Pi

Stories are what shape our reality–both on a personal and a widespread cultural scale. They directly affect how we understand everything, from everyday occurrences to the larger questions in life. Stories also play a large role in the world religions through both oral and written types of scripture, including myths, historical accounts, poetry, letters, etc. The novel Life of Pi reflects on the impact of stories in relation to religion and history. Examine questions of "truth" and "scientific fact" in contrast to "myth" and "spirituality" and how these themes are presented in both the novel and the movie. Also analyze the apparent human need for fantastical stories as presented in the movie–does this imply that religion is simply a way for humans to cope with the difficult events of life? Or does it have a larger implication, such as that "truth" or "fact" in life is not always tangible, and does not always have the importance we place upon it? There are many philosophical questions that can be explored regarding stories and reality in Life of Pi, and this topic is certainly open to suggestions!

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    Latest Comments

    Heather Lambert

    I love your commentary on the show’s complication of morality–one of the key strengths of the horror genre. What is evil, what is good? And what kind of things change our answers to these questions? Great article!

    The Walking Dead: The transformation of Rick Grimes
    Heather Lambert

    It’s so important to bring dystopian literature to the forefront of study, as I believe it is one of the key indicators of a society’s struggles, biases, and human experiences. So much can be interpreted from these texts, and you do a great job summing up some of the keystones of the genre. Love this!

    What is the Purpose of Dystopian Literature?
    Heather Lambert

    A great, short, comprehensive guide! When I come back to writing this summer, I’ll return to this article 🙂

    The "Write" Way
    Heather Lambert

    Thanks so much, I appreciate your thoughts! I find the theory that economic/political downturns lead to a growth in public interest in zombies to be particularly convincing, especially now in our complicated and divided Western political climate. It will be interesting to see what other types of monsters rise from the grave over the next few years.

    Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Is Jane Austen Rolling in Her Grave?
    Heather Lambert

    I’m so glad my work has had such an impact! It would interesting to expand what I’ve proposed here and analyze how PPZ relates to other similar adaptations where a classical figure is combined with monsters, such as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter or Jack the Giant Slayer.

    Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Is Jane Austen Rolling in Her Grave?
    Heather Lambert

    I think this reading is really on-point! The zombies can quite easily be linked to a revolution of the lower classes and the anxiety of the upper classes to preserve the system.

    Zombies and other monsters are also said to represent a form of desire. In the case of this text, it may simply be the desire for a wide-scale change and the sense of a ‘clean slate’ that can come from an apocalyptic event such as the zombie outbreak. This is another example of how zombies can link our contemporary time (with all its social and political turmoil) with Austen’s world.

    Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Is Jane Austen Rolling in Her Grave?
    Heather Lambert

    An interesting suggestion. I will challenge that there are multiple forms of feminism(s) that propose different interpretations of this theme; there is not just one true answer that can be applied to everyone. Also, the question of what exactly are “feminine values” and how are they determined is of importance in this debate. There is a gender binary at work here that I think characters like the undead zombie can help us complicate.

    Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Is Jane Austen Rolling in Her Grave?
    Heather Lambert

    A really great question! I love how adaptations can enact a deconstruction of the sometimes strict genre categories. Would you place this in the historical fiction section, the horror section, the comedy section, or somewhere else entirely??

    Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Is Jane Austen Rolling in Her Grave?