British cinema is often celebrated for its social realism, yet has made significant and influential contributions to the worlds of horror, fantasy and science fiction. From the Gothic tradition of Dracula to nightmarish visions of London in 28 Days Later and the spectacular popular fantasies of Doctor Who and Harry Potter, this course investigates this alternative history or ‘repressed underside’ of British cinema and the ways in which these films have responded to their social and cultural production contexts.
Introducing you to a range of critical approaches to film and literature and making full use of our unique London setting, we will engage with debates on the cultural appeal and social significance of horror and fantasy, and the nature of audiences and film spectatorship. Key topics for discussion will be the depiction of London and the East End as both a landscape of fear and wonder; the representation of women, gender and sexuality in horror and fantasy; the psychoanalytic interpretation of horror and the ways through which these films engage with the history of Britain and its capital. With an emphasis on cinema, we will also compare the writing of British authors with film adaptations of their work.