Heather Lambert

Heather is a horror-obsessed writer whose work can be found in Imprint, Update Magazine, Lamar Journal of the Humanities, and Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies

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    Latest Articles

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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 7 years ago
    • 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 7 years ago
    • Another aspect might be the trope that children are more perceptive than adults, as in It, where only children can see Pennywise. – tedytak 6 years ago
    • 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. 6 years ago
    • 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 6 years ago
    • 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 6 years ago
    • This is such an interesting topic to consider! I have actually never thought about it but I do agree with previous comments about Grimm's fairytales and how they stem from that. Also, maybe because they do have children in the stories, it can kind of be more relatable to an audience? – ambermakx 6 years ago

    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 6 years ago
    • 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 6 years ago
    • 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 6 years ago
    • Great topic. The egg-laying mama alien in the Alien films is pretty monstrous! – JamesBKelley 6 years ago
    • 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. 6 years ago
    • It would be really awesome if you all had a section specifically for music. – tylerbrown13 6 years ago
    • the book "Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke" has a few chapters on women's roles (in anime in particular, obviously) as the monster/Other/abject. that could be an interesting source for whoever takes this topic! – ees 6 years ago
    • Elsa Lancaster in Bride of Frankenstein is probably the best known. – Joseph Cernik 6 years ago
    • In Stephen King's IT, Pennywise is actually female. Jaws is female. In the Godzilla with Matthew Broderick, Godzilla is female. There are female Titans in Attack on Titan. Their female energy is often ignored, though. It'd be interesting to explore why feminity is ignored in female monsters (or how it isn't. are the creators of these monsters misogynistic, etc.). And, there's the whole trope of Momsters (mother monsters) that could be explored. Most recently, I'm thinking, hereditary? – M K Keane 6 years ago

    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 6 years ago
    • 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 6 years ago
    • 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 6 years ago
    • Yes, all of this! – ivyskiss 6 years ago
    • Many 1950s era monsters came as a result of nuclear testing, some as a result of the fear of Communist subversion. I don't see a dominant influence in monster create today. Will a clear influence emerge that is reflected in monster creation? – Joseph Cernik 6 years ago
    • This is a fascinating and diverse subject area. In addition to the above monsters, there seems to be a continued portrayal of most ghosts as female. Aside from the obvious problem with their having any gender, why would society be so comfortable with vicious ghosts like the one in The Grudge, yet so uncomfortable with portraying living women in this way. Do women have to be supernatural to let out anger or violence? Also, I think older, supernatural monsters have been edged out by actual human ones, such as serial killers or even abusive husbands. One of the most frightening is often a neighbor or even the guy who used to own your house, as in Cold Creek Manor, or Bates Motel! – SharonGenet 6 years ago

    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

      A really great article! I, too, have struggled with the violence against women in GoT, mostly because as a cis woman, it’s hard to watch. It makes the show feel very heterosexual-cis-male-centred. And yet, there are scenes where these women overcome their hardships in very feminist ways. It’s hard to navigate, but you put it into fine words!

      Why do the Women of Game of Thrones Suffer So Much?

      I’m so glad to have had a positive influence on your impression of zombies! I hope you enjoy it 🙂

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

      Fantastic article! Thank you for mentioning Pocahontas. Adaptations of one art form to another are one thing, but adapting real-life occurrences can be trickier, especially when representing marginalized communities. Artists need to practice respect and authenticity when tackling such projects.

      The Art of Adaption

      This is amazing. I can totally see how this survivalist narrative can create a population that craves to be heroes and reject the powers that be, and Trump certainly fits the “outsider” image. Love the comment about the red baseball cap. Unfortunately Trump isn’t as outside of the system as his followers seem to think he is. In the end, he’s just capitalizing on this culture. Thanks for the article!

      How Trump Won: Heroes, Villains and Surviving the Apocalypse

      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

      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?

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

      The "Write" Way

      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?