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JUNE 24, 2021

Artifice & Exaggeration: Camp Sensibilities and Queer Horror TV


Steeped in excess, extremity, and nostalgic reimagining, camp is a sensibility that simultaneously celebrates and turns a critical eye toward popular culture. First popularized by Susan Sontag’s 1964 “Notes on Camp,” it’s an aesthetic interrogation of the notion of “taste.”  It makes sense, then, that as a style, camp has a rich history of being incorporated into the horror genre. It has also long been linked with queer representation; considered a “gay sensibility,” for decades it was one of the few socially permissible modes of even alluding to queer existence.

In contemporary horror, though, the camp sensibility has flourished, and it has helped shape the turn away from simplistic “queer equals monster” metaphors. Modern camp refuses to be stigmatized as “low art,” and instead works to tear down the false binaries not only between “good taste” and “bad taste” but also between the strict (and often inaccurate) divisions of “gay” and “straight.” It destabilizes taxonomies and resists concise categorization, which makes it a natural ally for horror—a genre already marked by hybridity and a resistance to absolutes. In contemporary horror TV, camp is both a site of queer pleasure and a means of invoking queer horror history to celebrate the longevity of our presence and our refusal to remain invisible.

In this talk, Stephanie A. Graves will look at how camp has shaped horror media, focusing on how it has helped change queer representation looking at examples from works like True Blood, American Horror Story, Scream Queens, Ash vs. Evil Dead, Hannibal, Creepshow, and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Stick around after the lecture + Q&A to join us for Stephanie’s selection of TV show episodes viewed via a screening service near you:

– Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Season 1, Episode 7, “Chapter 7: Feast of Feasts” — Available on Netflix (Canada and US)

– Scream Queens, Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”— Available on Netflix Canada and Hulu


DATE: THURSDAY, June 24TH, 2021

We welcome donations to support our programming and the guest lecturer! You can contribute at the Universe ticket site linked above, or via https://ko-fi.com/blackmuseumto.


Stephanie A. Graves is a horror enthusiast and scholar from Nashville, TN. She is a PhD Candidate in English at Georgia State University, where she’s also working on a certificate in Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  She has published critical work on film and television, including Get Out (2017), The Cabin in the Woods (2010), Supernatural (2005-21), Justified (2010-15), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), and Hannibal (2013-15). She caters to the every whim of her three cats.

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