Reading American Horror Story

Essays on the Television Franchise


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About the Book

Looming onto the television landscape in 2011, American Horror Story gave viewers a weekly dose of psychological unease and gruesome violence. Embracing the familiar horror conventions of spooky settings, unnerving manifestations and terrifying monsters, series co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk combine shocking visual effects with an engaging anthology format to provide a modern take on the horror genre. This collection of new essays examines the series’ contribution to television horror, focusing on how the show speaks to social concerns, its use of classic horror tropes and its reinvention of the tale of terror for the 21st century.

About the Author(s)

Rebecca Janicker is a senior lecturer in film and media studies at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Rebecca Janicker

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: glossary, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6352-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2892-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Introduction 1

Part One: Industry and Culture 7
American Horror Stories, Repertory Horror and Intertextuality of Casting (Lorna Jowett) 8
Haunted History: American Horror Story as Gothic Tourism (Stacey Abbott) 27
Seasons, Family and Nation in American Horror Story (Derek Johnston) 45

Part Two: Issues of Representation 65
Static Femininity: Gender and Familial Representation in Murder House (Nikki Cox) 66
The Minotaur, the Shears and the Melon Baller: Queerness and ­Self-Mortification in Coven (Kyle Ethridge) 85
“Wir sind alle freaks”: Elevating White Gay Male Oppression Through Representations of Disability (Carl Schottmiller) 104

Part Three: Genre Tropes and the Horror of History 127
“There’s a power in it. A power we can use”: Perpetuating the Past in Murder House (Rebecca Janicker) 128
“They were monsters”: The Alien Abduction Plotline and Race, Sexuality and Social Unrest in Asylum (Philip L. Simpson) 145
Piecing It Together: Genre Frameworks in American Horror Story (Emma Austin) 163
Nightmares Made in America: Coven and the Real American Horror Story (Conny Lippert) 182

Epilogue: Past Nightmares and Anticipated Horrors (Rebecca Janicker) 200
Glossary 205
About the Contributors 209
Index 211

Book Reviews & Awards

American Horror Story, FX’s hit anthology series, has captured the imagination of viewers with its intriguing tales, quality writing, and noble actors…. [T]his collection explores the shows literary themes and social issues…as well as how series creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Fulchuk use familiar horror tropes in innovative ways.”—Library Journal.